Italia Independent

MILAN — Strong sales of eyewear boosted Italia Independent Group SpA in 2015, with both net profits and revenues rising on the year earlier even as the company invested more in strengthening its retail presence in key markets.

In a statement Thursday evening after the end of trading in Milan, where Italia Independent is listed on the AIM segment, the company said net profits increased 7.3 percent last year, to 480,000 euros, or $520,000, on sales up 20.4 percent to 39.63 million euros, or $43.3 million.

Eyewear sales, which in 2015 accounted for about 80 percent of group revenues, jumped 20 percent over 2014. The group is also active in lifestyle products, communication and retail: in 2015 it inked a partnership with Adidas Originals to create a glasses, shoes and accessories capsule collection. Production of the glasses began in January, the company said.

Eyewear sales grew strongly in Italy (up 20 percent on 2014), the company’s largest single market, accounting for about 40 percent of total revenues. Spain and “rest of the world” also grew strongly, while in France and the U.S. revenues slowed.

Andrea Tessitore, Italia Independent cofounder and chief executive officer, said that “2015 was a year of growth and at the same time also crucial for investments in new projects whose benefits will be seen over the next few years and that will lay the foundations for a further expansion of the group.”

Gross margins increased almost 24 percent on the year earlier, reaching 71.4 percent of sales compared with 69.5 percent of sales in 2014, primarily due to the “greater influence of the eyewear sector” which has higher margins, the company explained.

The company’s net debt spiked in 2015, more than doubling, to just over 22.63 million euros, or $24.7 million, as the launch of the new I-I Eyewear range and support for developing and expanding international activities led to a more than 50 percent increase in net invested capital, to 34.3 million euros, or $37.5 million.

The company revealed that in February it had acquired a 70 percent stake in Alialux Srl, “one of the historical suppliers of eyewear products for the brand Italia Independent…with the goal for the company to vertically integrate and to acquire know-how in the production chain.”

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