Kering inks eyewear partnership with Cartier
Richemont will acquire a reported 30% stake in Kering Eyewear, a specialist company within the Kering empire that manufactures and distributes the eyewear of twelve brands in the French luxury group - Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Brioni, Christopher Kane, McQ, Stella McCartney, Tomas Maier, Boucheron, Pomellato and Puma.
Kering Eyewear added in a release that it will acquire the Manufacture Cartier Lunettes plant in Sucy-en-Brie, France. Cartier had been one of the few luxury brands to actually still manufacture its one-eye glasses. Allowing Kering Eyewear, which largely produces its eyewear via contract with Safilo of Italy to gain control of a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant. Terms of the deal were not revealed.
Cartier eyewear are some of the most expensive on the market, priced at around 800 euros, compared to Gucci – the biggest fashion brand in Kering – which retails its sunglasses for around 300 euros on average.
Cartier is the key jewelry brand in the luxury empire of Compagnie Financière Richemont, a group primarily focused on hard luxury, principally watchmakers. Besides Cartier, Richemont controls such stellar labels as Van Cleef & Arpels, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin A. Lange & Söhne, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Officine Panerai, IWC, Baume et Mercier, Montblanc, Alfred Dunhill, Lancel, Chloé, British gun maker James Purdey and the largest single stake in Yoox Net-a-Porter.
Launched in 2013, Kering Eyewear was a path-breaking approach to its sector. Previously, most major fashion and luxury brands signed licenses with eyewear and sun glass manufacturers, mostly based in Italy – like Luxottica and Marcolin and Safilo. The latter previously held many of the Kering company licenses.
In a release, Kering and Cartier said they, “plan to enter into a strategic partnership bringing their operations together to create a stronger platform for the development, manufacturing and worldwide distribution of the Cartier eyewear collection. This project is subject to clearance by antitrust authorities.”
The first products from the new partnership will be presented at trade fair Silmo in Paris from October 6 to 9. The move is a major success for Kering Eyewear CEO Roberto Vedovotto, the dynamic Italian who has led the division since it opened. Already by 2016, Kering Eyewear posted revenues of 340 million euros.
Kering and Richemont are generally ranked as the world’s second- and third-largest luxury groups. The industry industry leader LVMH recently acquired a 10% stake in Marcolin, which will create and make the eyewear of both Céline and Louis Vuitton beginning in 2018. All of this activity testifying to the difficulty luxury groups – which like to control their own retail stores – have in this sector, where a fashion house would often distribute its eyewear in many thousands of stores globally.
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