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LVMH may take eyewear business in-house

Luxury brand group LVMH is thinking about taking its eyewear business in-house.

This could be a further blow for Italian eyewear group Safilo, which lost the Armani licence in 2013 and those for the Kering Group labels (Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta, Gucci and Saint Laurent) at the end of 2014, reports

Italian investment bank Mediobanca has published a report about Safilo, owned by Dutch investment fund Hal, focussing on its announcement that its licence agreement with Celine has been terminated while its contract with Christian Dior has been extended until 2020. The licence for Celine’s eyeglass collections – the LVMH label joined Safilo’s portfolio in 2012 – ends on December 31.

While the licence agreement for the design, production and distribution of eyeglasses and sunglasses for Dior and Dior Homme, also part of LVMH’s galaxy, has been extended until the end of 2020, Mediobanca says the extension is for three years only, not for seven years as was the case for the previous contract, renewed in September 2010.

The bank’s analysts noted that the standard renewable licence contract is for five years.

“We believe markets are much more volatile than in the past, and renegotiating contracts on a more frequent basis may be to the advantage of both parties,” says the bank. “But we think this could also signal a change in LVMH’s approach as the group has the financial strength to internalise its eyewear business, as Kering did a few years ago.”

LVMH has been managing the eyewear collections for its leading brand, Louis Vuitton, internally for several years.

Mediobanca estimates the sales for Celine and Dior eyeglasses collections are worth respectively €40 million (US$41 million) and €200 million. As well as these, there are the sales for the eyewear lines of Fendi, Givenchy and Marc Jacobs, all licensed to Safilo. Altogether, LVMH brands are worth €350 million in annual revenue for the eyewear group, equivalent to nearly 30 per cent of its total revenue, which Mediobanca pegs at €1.2 billion.

The bank report also highlighted the Safilo portfolio’s “marked reliance on one single client”, plus the weakness of its own brands.

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