The German Ferdinand Menrad Group, which had been manufacturing some of Carl Zeiss' frames as far back as the 1920s, has acquired all the production and logistics operations of the Zeiss eyeglass frames business, including a factory in Hungary. Menrad will assume overall sales responsibility for Zeiss' high-end line of frames and sunglasses.

Zeiss will continue to distribute its own line in certain markets where it has generated good sales, such as Denmark and Italy. Menrad will reintroduce Zeiss' glasses in Switzerland and the UK. In Italy, Zeiss will also distribute Menrad's own line, which includes the Joop! and Jaguar brands.

Eyewear frames have been marginal for Zeiss, with annual sales of only about 30 million DM (e15m) or about 5 percent of its total consumer optics business. Zeiss, which launched a new nickel-free line of children's glasses at the Optica fair in Cologne, is going to earn royalties on them.

The Menrad group, which is more than 100 years old, had sales of more than 140 million DM (e70m) last year. It operates with a total of 1,250 employees, with 4 factories in China, Ireland, Malta and Switzerland, and 10 sales offices abroad.