By  on September 19, 2013

MILAN — Italia Independent Group SpA, the fashion group controlled by Fiat heir Lapo Elkann, on Thursday showed it remained on a strong growth path as it reported a double-digit jump in net profits and sales for the first six months of the year.

In the first half, the company, which listed on the AIM segment of Italy’s stock exchange in June, said net profit increased by 53 percent to 929,000 euros, or $1.22 million, while net sales rose 65 percent to 13 million euros, or $17.03 million.

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

Driving revenue growth was the eyewear sector, which accounted for 82 percent of sales, up from 78 percent a year ago.

In a statement issued after the close of Milan trading, Italia Independent said that the eyewear sector saw strong growth in both Italy (up 51 percent on the year-earlier period) and abroad, “with significant growth in Europe (plus 145 percent) as well as in non-European countries, (plus 81 percent, excluding the USA).”

“The United States also began to contribute to the group’s revenue in the first half of this year,” the company said.

In July, Italia Independent signed a co-branding and joint distribution agreement with U.S. eyewear multinational Marchon, the licensee for Karl Lagerfeld eyewear, to produce a capsule collection of six eyewear models developed jointly by the two brands.

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Aside from its core business in eyewear, the group — which was founded in 2007 by Elkann, the younger brother of Fiat chairman John Elkann and a scion of Italy’s Agnelli dynasty — has activities in communications and lifestyle products.

The eyewear sector is also the driver of the growth in the group’s gross margin, which increased both in absolute terms (7.2 percent to 9 million euros, or $11.79 million) and in relative terms, coming in at 69 percent of sales, up from 67 percent in the first six months of 2012.

The improvement in gross margin also followed the lesser relative weight of international distributors compared with sales channels managed directly by the group, Italia Independent said.

Italia Independent is the first fashion firm to list on the AIM segment, which seeks to encourage listings by small and medium-size companies. The company is controlled by Lapo Elkann, who owns a 46.52 percent stake; chief executive officer Andrea Tessitore owns 8 percent.

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