LUXOTTICA SELLS WOMEN'S GROUP OF U.S. SHOE

Byline: Valerie Seckler

NEW YORK--Luxottica Group SpA said Friday it sold its U.S. Shoe women's group to a related company that will quickly close about 200 women's specialty stores, or about 25 percent of the business. The 90-unit Capezio chain will be shut. About 100 Casual Corner stores and 11 Petite Sophisticate stores are also slated to close, while 13 Capezios will be converted to Petite Sophisticates.
Luxottica said it signed a letter of intent to sell its women's apparel retailing unit to a U.S. company controlled by the Del Vecchio family. Claudio Del Vecchio is chairman of Luxottica. The new company, called Casual Corner Group Inc., will seek a buyer for August Max Woman, a 100-unit chain selling large sizes.
Luxottica, based in Agordo, Italy, purchased U.S. Shoe on April 15. The eyewear maker will retain LensCrafters. Luxottica has failed to find a buyer for the struggling apparel business.
Leopoldo Borzino, formerly chief executive officer of GFT USA Corp., will continue as president and chief executive of Luxottica's women's unit, following the sale's closing. "They want to have a clear focus for Luxottica on eyewear and apparel is a nonrelated business, therefore it was sold to a financial arm of the Del Vecchio family," Borzino said.
La Leonardo Finanziaria Srl, owned by the Del Vecchios, said it has bank commitments of $120 million to finance the apparel business. The Italian company also controls 35 percent of Luxottica and 66 percent of SME, an Italian retailer.

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