A recent survey showed that the opticians who have adopted Silhouette's new marketing packages in Germany experienced an average sales increase of 54 percent last year, as compared to 10-12 percent for non-participants. About one-third of the 1,500 German dealers of the Austrian firm have adopted them sofar, and the number is still growing.

The innovative program is now being rolled out by Silhouette worldwide. First introduced in the fall of 1998 in Denmark, Silhouette's new marketing program involves a series of actions culminating in so-called ?fashion days,? organized by the participating opticians with end consumers to let them try on the company's range. These events are promoted by Silhouette and the optician jointly through various forms of coop advertising, involving billboard campaigns and inserts in fashion magazines. Based on "value partnerships" with key opticians, the program is accompanied by special marketing tools ? artwork, photographs, posters printed materials, consumer brochures and specially designed display units

Last Jan. 1, Silhouette set up its own sales subsidiary in France, replacing a former importer, New Charmes. The new French company is run by Frédéric Nobécourt, who worked previously for Christian Dalloz. In the UK, where Silhouette is very successful, Roger McLaren has taken over the management of Silhouette from his father Derek, who is retiring after 25 years of running the company. A new importer has been hired in Australia. The company has its own sales offices also in the UK, Spain, Italy and the USA. An office in Antwerp coordinates sales in the Benelux countries, and the Danish sales office handles the Scandinavian countries.

Silhouette will not disclose its turnover, but the Austrian firm says it again managed to raise it by about 10 percent last year, in spite of a 50 percent reduction in the SKUs over the past 3 years, down to a range of about 100 models, of which two-thirds are under the Silhouette brand name. The balance carries the Adidas Eye Protection and Daniel Swarovski Crystal Eyewear brand names.

Founded in 1964, Silhouette produces over 2 million pieces annually, all of them to order. The company's factories in Austria and the Czech Rerpublic have been working 24 hours a day lately to cope with the strong demand for its few, yet well-designed products.