Italy's leading optical retail chain, Salmoiraghi & Vigano, has formed a new company, Mediservice, to invest on a series of new centers for ophthalmology and refractive surgery. The first one was inaugurated last July in Milan under the name Essevi Laser. It's a joint venture with a famous Italian ophthalmic surgeon, Francesco Carones, who has a 30 percent stake in the center. Salmoiraghi's management is working on the establishment of other centers.

To finance this project and other investments, the group's shareholders have raised the company's equity of 24.2 million euros by a further e7.7 million, without raising its medium and longterm debt of e30 million euros, which stemmed from the chain's leveraged management buyout from De Rigo.

Salmoiraghi's financial year ended las Sept. 30 with a turnover of e65 million in September, up 10 percent on a same-store basis 30 percent in absolute terms. The number of stores has increased from 128 to 198, including 132 corporate Italian outlets and 27 franchises, plus the 27 stores acquired through Lodi-Optik and 7 stores opened in Germany.