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MILAN — Italia Independent Group SpA, the eyewear and lifestyle brand controlled by Lapo Elkann, on Thursday reported a 70 percent increase in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in the first quarter on a 60 percent jump in revenues, lifted by strong demand for eyewear in Italy and abroad.

EBITDA rose to 1.5 million euros, or $2.1 million, while sales reached 8.2 million euros, or $11.2 million, in the quarter ended March 31.

Dollar amounts have been converted at average exchange for the periods to which they refer.

 

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Eyewear remains the “heart of the group,” accounting for more than 86 percent of first-quarter sales, Andrea Tessitore, the group’s cofounder and chief executive officer, told WWD. In the same period of 2013, eyewear represented 79 percent of total revenues.

The company is increasingly successful outside its home market of Italy, which, in the first three months of this year, saw its weight of total eyewear revenues drop to less than 52 percent, compared with 72 percent in the year-ago period, according to Tessitore.

The company’s main markets outside Italy are France, Spain and the U.S.; the U.S. accounts for about 5 percent of total turnover, compared with about 2 percent a year ago, Tessitore said. In the U.S., the group’s products are distributed through department stores, independent opticians and fashion stores, including — in New York — Scoop and Atrium. The company last year opened a Miami office from which to develop its North and South American business.

In terms of eyewear, Tessitore said in the just-ended quarter, velvet and thin metal frames were a particular hit.

The rest of Italia Independent’s business is in communication and advertising (through the Independent Ideas division), which has worked with brands including Gucci and Diesel, and in lifestyle products and projects, which include a capsule collection being developed with Adidas that will be unveiled in September and include sneakers and other apparel items, Tessitore said.

“We are in negotiations with two other brands, in new areas, about other potential projects,” Tessitore told WWD.

In the statement, Tessitore said the company is “optimistic about 2014, even more so with the opening of our first single-brand stores in the next few months in prime locations of Paris and New York.” The company had previously said it intends to open a store in New York’s SoHo and in the Saint-Germain district of Paris.

The group also said its net financial position at the end of the period was negative by 5.9 million euros, or $8.1 million, compared with a negative position of 3.9 million euros, or $5.4 million, as of December 2013, following “foreign subsidiaries’ needs for financing (including the launch of the retail project) and greater supply of goods due to higher turnover.”

Italia Independent’s shares ended the day down 0.54 percent, at 36.5 euros, in an overall lower Milan market.