Simon Jones: Time for a change
Author: Simon Jones
When you’ve been bombarded with industry news each day for a decade, there’s not much left to shock you, but this week’s announcement that Kering Eyewear had agreed to take a 100% share stake in Lindberg has left me reeling.
For years, Lindberg has batted away questions about its future and whether it would be bought by a Luxottica or a Safilo. As Tom Davies alludes to in his column (page 8) this week, the rumour mill can sometimes be beneficial, but I never got that impression when it came to Lindberg and after a couple of years in the job, I just stopped asking them about it. Management was stoic about not being for sale. Not now, not ever was the message. I was then told some interesting stories about how these rumours started, like the time when Luxottica founder and former owner, Leonardo del Vecchio and his entourage, decided, uninvited I hasten to add, to visit the Lindberg stand at a trade show in front of Lindberg’s customers from all over the world. It was a pretty sure-fire way of setting tongues wagging and there was very little Lindberg could do about it.
So, what’s changed? Why now and why Kering? Well, there won’t be many of us out there who haven’t looked back on the past 18 months and reassessed our priorities in life. I think that’s what has happened within the Lindberg family. In Kering, Lindberg has chosen a buyer that will, in all likelihood, be a proper custodian of what Lindberg now represents. Will it want to make a bit more margin on Lindberg as a company? Most likely, yes, but this doesn’t need to be a case of Lindberg becoming diluted as a brand. In fact, Lindberg has shown in the past that it’s fiercely protective of its reputation, coming down hard on counterfeiters and stockists that move product through unauthorised channels. It does that not only for itself, but to help its customers have a product that can only be sourced through them. Kering would be mad to make wholesale changes to an optical institution.