As one way to celebrate its 40th anniversary this year, Silhouette is organizing a series of ?Silhouette Sunny Days? of up to one week and more extensive ?Silhouette Sun Festivals,? running up to 3 weeks in length, this summer all over Europe. Using ingenious new presentation fixtures and new direct marketing and merchandising packages, they will probably end up involving 10-15 percent of the Austrian company's special retail partners in the region. These premium dealers represent about one-third of its 30,000-odd customers around the world, and they enjoy many privileges.
Sunglasses are taking on a new dimension in Silhouette's European marketing plan through a new exclusive partnership with Essilor, which started in a few markets in mid-April and has now been rolled out throughout Europe, giving to opticians the possibility to offer a co-branded line of prescription sunglasses with an 8-base curve. The frames come from Silhouette's collection of sunglasses, with the exception of the new Futura line, which is actually a new edition of one of the company's first models from the ?sixties. Available in the 15 specific fashion tints prescribed by the Austrian manufacturer, the lenses are cast by Essilor in a special lightweight material with a 1.67 index called Stylis.
Essilor is offering tinted 8-base prescription lenses in CR39 in some European countries since mid-May as part of its Orma Open View program, but the partnership with Silhouette goes deeper besides the choice of the high-index material and it may be extended to the Austrian company's Adidas Eyewear line of sports glasses next year. The program is somewhat comparable to those that have already been offered for some time by SOLA in the USA and Europe for various brands including Bollé and Serengeti, Briko, Revo and Rudy Project, insofar as Essilor and Silhouette have decided to work closely together to make sure that their products fit well with one another, while promoting the new service jointly. Because of its more extensive lab facilities in Europe, Essilor should be in a position to ensure a broader geographical coverage. Delivery is generally guaranteed within two weeks.
Silhouette continues to grow at double-digit rates, although the rate of increase is likely to decline this year to 10 percent from the 15 percent rate recorded for the year ended last Jan. 31. Sales grew last year to €230 million and included 2,850,000 pairs of Silhouette frames (13% sunglasses), 920,000 pairs of Adidas frames (60% sunglasses and sports glasses) and 105,000 Daniel Swarovsky Paris frames (24% sunglasses). Sales rose by 20 percent in Germany and by 7 percent in the USA. The best-selling product was Titan Minimal Art. A strong new entry was the Adidas Gazelle ClimaCool model of running sports glasses with ?climate control,? which use a special variety of flexible surgical ?performance steel.?
The company, which continues to produce all its eyewear at its Austrian factory, unlike Safilo, continues to file 3-4 new patents each year and to finance its investments, running between €10 million and €17 million annually, exclusively from its own cash flow. Its Italian sales subsidiary took over the distribution of Adidas Eyewear from an agent last year. As of this month, Silhouette has a new sales subsidiary in Switzerland. Run by an outsider, Beat Nydegger, it takes over the business from a former Swiss distributor, Von Hoff.