Safilo and Gucci Group announced today that they had signed new sunglass licensing deals for two brands recently acquired by the Florentine fashion house. Both lines will be developed very rapidly. One will become available as from next February under the name of Bottega Veneta, an Italian manufacturer of leathergoods with its own growing network of accessory stores. Designed by Bottega Veneta's creative diretor, Thomas Maier, it will be sold selectively, using highly distinctive eyeglass cases in dark brown leather, coordinated with the company's handbags.

The other line will be named after Stella McCartney, daughter of the famous English singer who belonged to the Beatles group, Paul McCartney. Designed by Stella herself in shapes and colors that go with her typical sex appeal of her dresses, the first line of sunglasses will be launched worldwide next Spring with an initial range of 6 models.

Safilo is already Gucci's eyewear licensee for the Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent brands. According to Safilo, the YSL license acquired last January has enjoyed a good start, and company executives are confident that the YSL line will soon come to represent about 10 percent of Safilo's total turnover.

Safilo has already sold 170,000 units of the new line in Italy and even more than that in France, among other markets. It's too early to make any statement concerning the US market, however, as the product wasn't proposed until the New York fair in March. Safilo's total sales in the USA grew by 12 percent in the first half of this year, in spite of the difficult market situation there.

Safilo has no obligation to publish its quarterly results now that it's no longer quoted on the stock exchange. The third quarter was not good, and the management blames the bad weather in June, July and August, which affected sales of sunglasses.

The group's CEO, Vittorio Tabacchi, is waiting for a substantial improvement in the financial markets before taking Safilo back onto the Milan Bourse.