EYES AHEAD: Prada and Italian eyewear maker De Rigo announced Wednesday that EID (International Eyewear Distribution), the joint venture created in 1999 between the two companies to produce and distribute eyewear lines for the Prada, Miu Miu, Jil Sander and Helmut Lang lines, will sign a licensing agreement with Avant-garde Optics to produce and distribute Prada-branded eyewear in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. Avant-garde Optics is controlled by De Rigo’s competitor, Luxottica Group SpA. The deal squelches rumors that Prada chief executive Patrizio Bertelli was planning to terminate the joint venture with De Rigo after growing unhappy with its distribution in the U.S. The Avant-garde agreement does not change the distribution for the Italian and European markets, where EID operates directly through its own network. The Prada eyewear collections will be showcased at Vision Expo East in New York this month. Meanwhile, well-placed sources here say Luxottica continues to consider an acquisition of De Rigo, although Luxottica has denied it. Luxottica has been looking for ways to fill the gap left by the termination of the license with Giorgio Armani last year. Earlier this year, it signed a deal to acquire IC Optics, the firm that produces Versace eyewear, and to produce and distribute eyewear for that company.

KOHL’S JOINS NRF: The $7 billion, 400-unit Kohl’s Corp. and several other retailers have joined The National Retail Federation industry organization this year. Other retailers signing on include Jo-Ann Stores Inc., the largest national chain for the retail fabric and craft industry with almost 1,000 stores in the U.S.; Cort Furniture Rental, with 120 locations coast to coast, and OBI Bau, the largest retail home center in continental Europe with 464 stores.

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