Chris Bennett: Luxottica has minerals to take on competition
Author: Chris Bennett
Sitting sipping coffee in a German cafe surrounded by the international optical press corps seems an appropriate setting for a discussion on optical globalisation.
My Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Hungarian and Swedish colleagues are digesting the news that Luxottica has gobbled up Italian mineral glass sun lens specialist Barberini.
Business is business and globalisation is a fact, and while the deal should bring benefits to consumers, there were rumblings among the group about the influence of such a powerful group.
An Italian counterpart seemed sanguine about the move, those based in northern Europe were less keen and frustrated by the reaction from their local opticians, where practices want Ray-Ban in the window to pull in the punters.
The opening of Maui Jim’s new ophthalmic lens lab in Braunschweig brought the whole company together and ‘off the record’ it appeared shocked by the acquisition. Its bold plans remain unchanged – an American company building a production site in Germany using high quality components from the US, Japan and Italy. Among those is Barberini, for now.
Globalisation continues and Maui Jim may find its decision to take greater control of its own manufacturing may not have come a moment too soon.
The company points out its technology is proprietary and that it hasn’t yet had time to assess the Barberini buy. Many others will be in the same boat, as Barberini supplies a varied range independent eyewear brands and not so independent multinational eyewear producers. The independent producers may feel some of their independence will be eroded by such a deal, while Luxottica’s direct competitors now face the prospect of doing business with the animal of Agordo.
Luxottica highlighted that brands such as Persol and Ray-Ban have been synonymous with glass lenses in the past. Could Barberini hold the key to their success in the future?