MILAN — Versace eyewear has a new home.

Confirming a report in these columns, Luxottica Group SpA has acquired IC Optics, the firm that produces Versace eyewear, and has inked a licensing deal to produce and distribute the Versace, Versus and Versace Sport eyewear lines for the next 10 years.

"Our eyewear was always beautiful but we just hadn’t developed the collection enough," chief executive Donatella Versace told WWD.

Luxottica bought IC Optics, which was equally controlled by Versace and the toy manufacturer, Italocremona, for an undisclosed sum. Luxottica said the amount of the transaction was immaterial.

Versace said the sunglasses and prescription eyewear will still have a strong fashion-related component but will appeal to a wider customer base.

"They will be more wearable in a way," the designer said. "I think that Luxottica is the company best placed to make eyewear for people who aren’t just wearing it as a fashion item."

Luxottica, which has been looking for ways to compensate for the loss of its Giorgio Armani eyewear licenses late last year, said it expects the three Versace lines to generate sales of about $95 million in the first 12 months of the contract. The pact is renewable for an additional 10 years. Dollar figures have been converted at current exchange rates.

The new collections will be launched in March of this year.

Luxottica, which issued a profit warning in November after Armani terminated his licenses with the group, said the deal should boost its 2003 earnings per share to 77 cents from an original forecast of 75 cents, assuming euro-dollar parity.

"Our plans for growth are not complete with this transaction," Luxottica chairman Leonardo Del Vecchio said in a statement. "In fact, we are currently evaluating additional alternatives both on the retail and wholesale front."

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