MILAN — Marcolin said Thursday it has agreed to acquire Viva International, the North American eyewear company that produces and distributes the frames of a number of brands, including Gant by Michael Bastian, Guess by Marciano, Bongo, Candie’s, Catherine Deneuve, Gant, Gant Rugger, Guess, Harley-Davidson, Rampage, Skechers, William Rast, Viva, Magic Clip and Saavy.
Viva International is owned by privately held holding company HVHC Inc., which also controls Davis Vision and Visionworks of America.
The Italian eyewear manufacturer and HVHC signed a stock purchase agreement, which will allow the two companies to finalize the acquisition in the next few months.
“Today we announced some really exciting changes for Marcolin USA, to build off of our momentum and success, and to strengthen our ability to grow in the American market,” said Fabrizio Gamberini chief executive officer of Marcolin USA. “Our acquisition of Viva is a perfect way to improve our connection to customers and consumers, within North and South America. We’re about to step up our game.”
“We are [pleased] about the possibilities that this acquisition will bring to Viva’s customers and we look forward to developing a strong, strategic business relationship with Marcolin,” said David Holmberg, president and ceo of HVHC, which is the third largest provider of optical products and service, and the third largest operator of optical retail stores in the U.S.
This operation is part of the strategic business plan of European private equity Pai Partners, which last December, through its indirectly controlled company Cristallo SpA, finalized the acquisition of a majority stake in Marcolin for 207 million euros, or $273 million at average exchange rates.
Pai Partners currently controls 85 percent of the company, while the remaining shares are owned by brothers Diego and Andrea Della Valle, the Marcolin family and Antonio Abete.
Marcolin produces and distributes the eyewear collections of a number of international fashion labels, such as Tom Ford, Balenciaga, Montblanc, Roberto Cavalli, Tod’s, Swarovski, DSquared2, Diesel, 55DSL, Just Cavalli, Cover Girl, Kenneth Cole New York, Kenneth Cole Reaction and Timberland. The company also operates three house brands, including Marcolin, National and Web.
According to Marcolin ceo Giovanni Zoppas, the acquisition of Viva International will enable the company to reinforce its business in the U.S., balancing its presence worldwide. “Europe accounts for 44 percent of Marcolin business, while the U.S. accounts for 57 percent of Viva’s business,” he said. “With this acquisition, our business will be equally divided through Europe, the United States and the rest of the world, in particular the BRIC area.”
By acquiring Viva International, Marcolin, which is more focused on the luxury segment with Tom Ford as its leading brand, will also enlarge its portfolio with strong diffusion labels, in particular Guess — currently Viva International’s most successful line. In addition, the Italian company will increase the sales of optical frames, which according to Zoppas, will soon account for 55 percent of the company’s total business.
Marcolin also expects to almost triple its sales — last year the Italian company sold about 5.5 million eyeglasses, while Viva International sold 8.5 million pieces. “In addition, [by] acquiring Viva International, Marcolin will be present in about 15,000 doors across the United States,” said Raffaele Roberto Vitale, partner of Pai Partners.
Zoppas said that Marcolin will produce the Guess by Marciano line in Italy, while the rest of brands that are currently part of Viva International’s portfolio will continue to be manufactured in China, “where we will have an incredible contractual leverage,” he said.
Although Zoppas declined to forecast sales, he said that this acquisition is expected to guarantee Marcolin high-single-digit growth in the first year. In 2012, Marcolin and Viva International posted revenues of 215 million euros, or $296.8 million at average exchange rates, and 147 million euros, or $203 million, respectively.