The strategic center of Sola Sunlens, the sun lens division of the American Sola group, has moved from Miami in Florida to Varese in Italy. The Miami office, which had 20 employees, has been closed, and the firm's entire sun lens business has been transferred to Varese under the management of Gaetano Sciuto.

The lenses are produced by Sola in Petropolis, Brazil, at a large production plant that employs 2,000 people, and at Castiglione Olona near Varese, where a workforce of 70 makes polycarbonate lenses and processes and colors plastic lenses.

The sun lens sector represents no more than 7-8 percent of Sola International's total turnover, which was nearly stable at $538.7 million in the year ended last March 31, but it's growing fast. Since last Apr. 1, its turnover has risen by 30 percent as compared to the same period last year, doubling the growth rate recorded for the previous year.

Sola owes this performance to the success of its polycarbonate sun lenses, thanks to new technologies that have improved their optical qualities. They are used extensively in fashion eyewear, whose frequent new mirroring effect is easier and less expensive to achieve with polycarbonate lenses. They are also shock and abrasion-resistant, making them an excellent choice for sports and children's eyewear.

The boom seems to be limited to the bigger clients. After the agreement with Nike last year on a common brand for sports eyewear, Sola Sunlens has signed other co-branding agreements with many important Italian eyewear firms: Allison (for the Body Glove and No Limits brands), Filos Group (Kappa-eyes and Superga), FEIS, Magma and Galileo Occhiali.