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LVMH could triple eyewear production with joint venture

Luxury eyewear maker LVMH is expecting to triple the production of its signature in-house eyewear brands following the opening of its new joint venture manufacturing house with Marcolin.

Manifattura Thelios – an 8,000 sqm plant which opened earlier this year in Longarone, Italy – could boost production to 4.5 million eyeglasses annually as brands that are currently licensed to third-parties eventually return in house.

LVMH’s strategy is in response to a similar course taken by rival Kering in 2014, and should see it increase both control and profit margins related to its eyewear business. It is also a major blow to the world’s second largest eyewear manufacturer Safilo, which has already lost its licence to manufacture Kering’s top-selling luxury brand Gucci.

LVMH managing director Mr Toni Belloni said that while the brands controlled by the company maintained its freedom to choose licensing rights, Thelios would be considered as a privileged partner moving forward.

“Some of the most important licences are due to expire in 2020 and in the following two years, which is a timeframe consistent with Thelios’ learning curve,” Belloni told Reuters.

Safilo currently holds licences to several LVMH luxury brands such as Christine Dior, which will expire in December 2020, Givenchy in 2021, Fendi in 2022 and Marc Jacobs in 2024.

The rights to manufacture these brands are likely to transferred to Thelios, which currently holds only Celine, Loewe and Fred in its portfolio.

“If we remained with three brands we would be very disappointed ... we’re determined to add more,” Belloni said, while adding LVMH had no plans to raise its 10% stake in Marcolin.

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