Safilo, which has lost the Armani licence (see below), has signed an agreement to purchase the Polaroid Eyewear business from the StyleMark group for $87.5m.

Polaroid has offices in the UK, Switzerland, the US, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands, China and Russia, as well as distribution partners worldwide. The company, which invented the first man-made polariser for commercial use in 1929, sold its first pair of Polaroid sunglasses in 1935. It is expected to record sales of $63m for the year 2011.

Safilo stated that the acquisition of the Polaroid Eyewear business was consistent with its strategy of building a strong portfolio of brands to complement its licensed brand portfolio. The move would give high growth potential, particularly outside Europe where Polaroid was under-represented.

Safilo added that it had finalised a loan agreement with its main shareholder Multibrands Italy, controlled by HAL Holding, of at least two thirds of the purchase price - some €44m. The completion of the acquisition is expected during the first quarter of 2012.

Roberto Vedovotto, chief executive officer of the group, said: 'We are extremely happy to announce that a historical yet contemporary brand like Polaroid is becoming part of the new Safilo, bringing along its reputation of leader in the manufacturing of high quality polarising lenses and the distribution of world-class polarised sunglasses around the world.

'The size of the polarising eyewear market is rising steadily as more and more consumers realise the benefits and the value of glare-free vision,' he said.

Speaking for Polaroid's UK distributor Norville Optical, sales director Mark Truss said: 'We have been delighted to be associated with Polaroid and fundamentally the brand has been successful for us in the UK.'