By  on August 2, 2011

MILAN — Italian eyewear maker Safilo Group SpA returned toprofit in the second quarter and nominated Robert Polet — the formerchief executive officer of Gucci Group — as its new chairman.However,the group said it remained “cautious” on its outlook for the full yeardue to “macroeconomic uncertainty, particularly in Europe and the U.S.”Safilo,based in Padua, Italy, reported a net profit of 12.9 million euros, or$18.6 million, in the quarter ended June 30 compared with a net loss of 5million euros, or $7.2 million, in the same period last year, due tostrong sales gains in markets like Asia and Latin America. The continueddecrease in net financial charges and an improved tax rate alsocontributed to boosting the bottom line.During a conference callwith analysts, Safilo ceo Roberto Vedovotto said that first half netprofit of 31.3 million euros, or $45.1 million, was “the second best”first-half net profit result in the company’s history.Regardingthe appointment of Polet as group chairman, Vedovotto said thenomination — to be approved at the shareholders’ meeting scheduled forOct. 5 — “is coherent with Safilo’s strategy to enrich its board ofdirectors with professionals of undisputed experience and leadership inorder to continue the successful journey started last year.” The boardwill be expanded to eight members from the current seven and MelchertFrans Groot, current Safilo chairman, will hand over his position andremain as nonexecutive chairman.The Gucci Group, of which Poletwas chairman and chief executive from 2004 until March, is one ofSafilo’s key licensors in terms of sales.In the three months,Safilo’s total revenues jumped more than 10 percent at constant exchangerates, to 303 million euros, or $436.3 million, thanks to “soundtrading conditions” in the U.S. and “better performance” in Europe. However,the group — which produces for major luxury brands including AlexanderMcQueen, Dior, Giorgio Armani, Gucci and Marc Jacobs — said the overallsales gains at current exchange rates was a more modest 2.8 percent asthe dollar weakened against the euro.Dollar amounts have beenconverted at average exchange for the periods to which they refer.Safilosaid that momentum in the U.S. market remained strong, driven by thehealthy performance — in particular in the independent opticians channel— of the group’s top licensed brands as well as the continuingexpansion of the house brand Carrera. The company remained mum about therenewal of the Armani license, which is due to expire at the end of2012. Regarding the license, one of the group’s biggest in terms ofsales, Vedovotto said, “We have started discussions but I don’t have anyupdate,” he added. “We are not the only ones interested in the Armanilicense.”However, the ceo confirmed that Safilo would continueallowing smaller, unprofitable licenses to expire going forward: “Wewill see more terminations of licenses, especially smaller ones whichare not profitable.”Vedovotto also said that Safilo’s muchawaited new industrial plan will be presented on Sept. 29, in Paris.

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