By  on November 17, 2008

MILAN — A weak dollar, the difficult global economy and cautious spending in the high-end range of the eyewear market hit Safilo Group in the first nine months of the year. The Italian eyewear manufacturer said net profits declined 62.6 percent to 14.5 million euros, or $22 million, from 38.7 million euros, or $51.8 million, in the first nine months of 2007.

Sales in the first nine months dropped 4.2 percent to 865.7 million euros, or $1.31 billion. Dollar figures were converted at average exchange rates for the periods to which they refer.

Massimiliano Tabacchi, who was appointed executive vice president of the group on Friday, said the results were “influenced by an international economic and financial situation marked by a strong uncertainty and the evident volatility of consumers.”

Tabacchi noted the U.S. and emerging countries such as China and South Korea helped balance more saturated and established markets such as Europe. Also, he said he was looking ahead at reaping the rewards of long-term projects that were initiated over the past 12 months, such as more efficient production, the strengthening of wholesale distribution and geographical expansion.

The performance of prescription glasses, he said, was particularly satisfying and showed strong growth of the Safilo-owned Carrera brand. Safilo produces and distributes eyewear collections for the likes of Alexander McQueen, Giorgio Armani, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Marc Jacobs, Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent, Hugo Boss and Max Mara.

Safilo also said Roberto Vedovotto has returned to the company as chief executive officer. Vedovotto left the firm in 2006 after listing it on the stock market. Vittorio Tabacchi, president of Safilo, praised Vedovotto’s knowledge and experience and said he was “the right person to help Safilo achieve its strategic goals and to create value in the medium long term.”

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