By  on March 25, 2010

MILAN — Improved efficiency and brisk business in its domestic market helped Italian eyewear maker Marcolin SpA close last year with a net profit of 7 million euros, or $9.7 million, up 16 percent from 2008.

However, sales, hurt by the generally lackluster economy, declined 3.5 percent to 180.3 million euros, or $250.6 million.

Geographically, sales in Italy grew 11.6 percent to 40.5 million euros, or $56.3 million, accounting for 22.5 percent of revenues. Hurt by poor performance in Europe, especially in Spain and Russia, sales in that area fell 13.2 percent to 62.9 million euros, or $87.4 million, accounting for 34.9 percent of the total. Revenues in the rest of the world edged down 1.2 percent to 37.2 million euros, or $51.7 million, as a positive performance in Australia and Brazil balanced a drop in the Arab Emirates. Sales in the U.S. were in line with the previous year, dropping 1.7 percent to 39.6 million euros, or $55 million, accounting for 22 percent of sales.

Dollar amounts have been converted from the euro at average exchange rates for the year.

Chief executive officer Massimo Saracchi said despite the difficult scenario, Marcolin posted positive results last year, and was “stimulated by the international crisis into an internal reorganization and an improvement of its efficiency, while successfully introducing new brands in the market.”

The company said in a statement that, while macroeconomic conditions in 2010 are expected to be “anything but easy,” the year kicked off on a positive note with new licenses with Tod’s, Hogan, Dsquared2, and, most recently, Swarovski. Marcolin pointed to the renewal of production and distribution licenses for the Tom Ford, Roberto Cavalli and Just Cavalli brands.

In early March, the company also renewed the historical Kenneth Cole New York and Kenneth Cole Reaction licenses, considered key for business in the U.S.

In particular, the launch of the new John Galliano license was “promising, thanks to the very original models presented.”

Efficiency improvements are expected in the new year, leveraging production investments made to improve logistics and centralize some strategic production phases. Marcolin said it is aiming for international growth, with an increased focus on competitiveness, quality, product cost and productivity. Saracchi concluded: “Considering that only a limited part of the group’s actual potential has taken shape so far, we look at 2010 with confidence and optimism.”

As of Dec. 31, Marcolin had reduced its net debt by 27 percent, as it stood at 23.8 million euros, or $33 million, compared with a net debt of 32.7 million euros, or $48 million, at the end of the previous year.

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