By  on June 21, 2011

Sunglass Hut is taking its partnership with actress Rachel Bilson, who was anointed its style director last year, worldwide just as the Luxottica Group SpA-owned retailer’s global footprint is swelling.

Launching with the reboot this month of her blog on Sunglass Hut’s Web site in which she fields reader questions, conducts interviews and offers style advice, Bilson’s larger role means Sunglass Hut shoppers in the U.K., China, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, China and the Philippines, in addition to the United States, will see her in in-store imagery and perhaps in public appearances, as well. Financial terms of her Sunglass Hut contract were not disclosed.

The expansion of Bilson’s role is one of many pieces that Sunglass Hut has put in place to elevate its global presence. Stores are the most critical — and they are multiplying rapidly. At the end of last year, Sunglass Hut had 2,295 stores and that number is now up to 2,800, and projected to reach 4,000 by 2015. In February, the retailer acquired 70 stores in Mexico under the Stanza and High Tech nameplates that are being rebranded to Sunglass Hut under the regional leadership of a team being assembling in Brazil, where Sunglass Hut is slated to open 15 stores by the end of the year.

In May, Sunglass Hut owner Luxottica Group also announced its accelerated takeover of Multiopticas Internacional, operator of 470 South American stores. Its unclear if any of those stores will be converted to Sunglass Hut locations, but the chain has been planting its flagships in key markets across the world.

Sunglass Hut’s record 2010 results have provided motivation for the global push. Last year, the retailer registered an 8.4 percent same-store sales hike worldwide, and an 11.1 percent same-store sales jump in North America. For the first quarter of this year, the chain’s same-store sales climbed 7.9 percent worldwide and notched a double-digit gain in North America, according to the latest financial results released by Luxottica.


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