The German eyewear and low-vision equipment manufacturer reported revenues of €144 million for 2018, an overall growth of 4 percent from the previous year, with a faster increase in the eyewear category. This confirms the regular progress made by Eschenbach in its revenues since it reached a level of €125 million at the end of 2015, when Jörg Zobel, a former executive of Puma, was appointed as chief executive. Eschenbach did not disclose income figures for the last year but indicated solid progress in profitability in spite of recent investments in new headquarters, a new assembly line for its low-vision products in Germany and a new licensing deal with the Mini car brand.
The eyewear business represented the bulk of the company's revenues last year at €111 million, while low-vision and sport optics products generated sales of €33 million. Globally, sales of spectacles and sunglasses – under its own brands or under license – grew by 7 percent in 2018, with a strong increase in the German-speaking region as well as in France and the U.S. In the equipment category, the company said that its growth in the core product segment was limited because of the construction of a new assembly line in Germany. However, the revenues of Eschenbach's digital product range increased at a double digit rate.
By region, Germany accounted for about 40 percent of the company's business in 2018 with sales of €57 million. The rest of Europe generated revenues of €30 million and the rest of the world €57 million. The German group currently has ten subsidiaries in Europe, two in the U.S. and one in Japan, as well as many distributing partners throughout the world.
Preliminary figures to the end of May 2019 confirm the upward trend as Eschenbach booked a 6 percent increase for the period at group level, with the eyewear and equipment segments up by 6 and 9 percent, respectively. While the U.S. and the U.K. had a slower start due to changes in the accounting structures that will partly defer revenues to the second half, sales in continental Europe grew by 14 percent. Germany booked a spectacular 19 percent increase, due in particular to strong business with independent opticians. Southern Europe has also been outperforming since the start of the year.
On the product side, Eschenbach is launching the new Mini license, named after the iconic urban car brand of the BMW group. The collections of spectacles and sunglasses for both men and women have been developed on a global scale with close cooperation between the group's American and European design teams. They will retail between €130 and €220 a pair. The company said that deliveries will start in August after a very positive pre-order campaign carried out by a newly built dedicated sales force for the new brand. The Mini eyewear license had been developed by De Rigo in the past but it had disappeared from the market in recent years.
Last month, the German company moved its headquarters to the so-called AEG, a creative urban development space west of Nuremberg. Formerly a huge factory for washing machines that was shut down in 2006, “Auf AEG” has been revamped as a cultural and business hub that brings together art, design, science and research. Out of the 550 Eschenbach employees worldwide, about 250 are now working in the new head office.
Eschenbach's management said that the modern loft offices are more open than the previous ones, favoring collaboration and creativity, in particular between the design team and the brand managers. The company, which has already won multiple Red Dot Design awards in the last 18 months, has highlighted design and creativity as one of the focus areas of its current strategy. The eyewear collections are fully designed and developed in Germany. They are produced in Asia but, without disclosing further information, the management said that there are plans to invest in a German production unit in the near future.