EYE SPY: Eyewear is showing more resiliency than some other luxury products as Italian companies in the sector reported growth both in terms of sales and profitability for 2002. Safilo, which late last year won contracts to produce Giorgio Armani eyewear, said its profit for the year ended Dec. 31, 2002, rose 12 percent to $150.8 million, while sales advanced 6 percent to $962.8 million. Dollar figures are converted from the euro at current exchange rates. "In 2003, we intend to further consolidate our leadership in luxury eyewear and, at the same time, boost the steady growth that we have enjoyed in recent years," said Safilo chief Vittorio Tabacchi.

Despite a 7.7 percent contraction in fourth-quarter sales, industry leader Luxottica saw its 2002 net profit rise 17.6 percent to $400.7 million, while revenue grew 2.2 percent to $3.37 billion. Marcolin said strong sales of Dolce & Gabbana and Roberto Cavalli eyewear lifted its 2002 net profit to $2.1 million from $753,830, while revenue rose eight percent to $179.6 million. Meanwhile, De Rigo, which has yet to release profit figures, saw its 2002 revenue climb 1.4 percent to $552 million despite a 2.8 percent decline in Prada brand eyewear sales to $33.6 million. — Amanda Kaiser

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