BOTTEGA’S NEW VIEWS: Gucci Group’s Bottega Veneta will present its new eyewear collection in February. Produced and distributed by Italian eyewear giant Safilo Group, the collections consists of four unisex styles, developed by BV’s creative director Tomas Maier. Beyond the craftsmanship, Maier cited the eyebrow as a point of interest. “It’s rare when you find glasses that align in a beautiful way with the brows,” he explained. “But if you have an eye for proportion, you notice that right away. We set out to create frames that redesign the eyebrow.” The frames are crafted with brushed metal and acetate in different tortoiseshell hues to match the wearers’ hair color. High-performance lenses in shades of gray/green and amber provide optimal UV protection. In line with Bottega Veneta’s design creed, there are no visible logos. The line will initially be sold in the brand’s 53 boutiques worldwide. Shortly after, it will roll out to other eyewear retailers, but a Safilo spokeswoman said details are being hammered out. Retail prices for the frames range from $250 to $300.
SMOOTHER SAILING: Life is getting easier for Italy’s fashion companies. Vittorio Giulini, president of industry organization Sistema Moda Italia, said the Italian government is starting to recognize the importance of the fashion and luxury goods industry. Giulini said the Industry Ministry has agreed to accommodate a series of SMI demands, including tax breaks for companies that merge and better coordination at a European Union level to fight child labor. Giulini also praised Italy’s export commission for striking special deals with retailers — like the recent Viva Italia campaign at Canada’s Holt Renfrew & Co. —by which Italy will subsidize some promotional expenses if stores boost their orders of Italian merchandise. A similar event could take place at Bergdorf Goodman or another prominent U.S. store, Giulini said.
HARRODS’ 2002 PROFITS RISE: Extraordinary items such as the sale of property and investments boosted pre-tax profit at Harrods Holdings Group more than 200 percent to $27.6 million from $8.8 million in the fiscal year ended Feb. 2, 2002. Stripping out those exceptional items, however, pre-tax profit would have slid 97 percent to $314,000 from $11.1 million. Harrods did not reveal after-tax profits in its statement. Dollar figures are converted from pounds at current exchange rates.
The private company controlled by Mohamed Al Fayed said in a statement Sunday that sales rose 0.1 percent to $849 million from $848 million. Same-store sales, however, dipped 2 percent in what the company described as difficult trading conditions. However, it said group trading figures for the first nine months of the current fiscal year were showing a 5 percent rise on a same-store basis. October’s group sales were more than 13 percent ahead of last year.
In the 2002 fiscal year, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization fell 13 percent to $72 million from $83 million due mostly to increased distribution and restructuring costs. A spokesman said he expected EBITDA to improve as the company wraps up redevelopment of its back office and physical infrastructure.
BULGARI’S CHINA-BOUND: Following the opening of a boutique in Hong Kong last week, Bulgari’s chief executive, Francesco Trapani, said the company plans to open its first store on the mainland, in Beijing or Shanghai, next year or in 2004. The Italian jeweler is rolling out a series of flagships: Two months ago, it opened a store in Tokyo’s Ginza, and it plans to open in Zurich by the end of the year and Los Angeles in 2003.