Missoni Pre-Fall 2019

MILAN —Safilo Group shares closed up 2.98 percent at 0.72 euros in trading in Milan on Wednesday, following the announcement of a new eyewear licensing agreement with Missoni.

Missoni and Safilo have inked a five-year global licensing agreement for the production and distribution of prescription eyewear and sunglass collections for the luxury brand and its sister label M Missoni.

The new collections will be available starting January 2020, and a digital communication campaign is planned to unveil the new designs ahead of the launch. The license is renewable at the same conditions up to 2029.

This is a return to Safilo for Missoni, as the Italian eyewear producer was the brand’s licensee in the Eighties. Most recently, Missoni’s eyewear was produced by Allison.

“The Missoni and M Missoni brands are such a perfect fit in our portfolio,” said Angelo Trocchia, chief executive officer of Safilo Group.

“At Safilo, we can draw on our extensive archive, rich in inspiration, thanks to our previous collaboration, and ensure forward momentum to further support the brands’ global distribution and important business development for both our companies.”

Missoni represents “true Italian style, with a strong and distinctive connotation it has preserved through the years,” an upbeat Trocchia said during an interview. The executive believes the two companies share “common views and strategies” and that both reflect “Italian authenticity.” Also, both are in a phase of relaunch. Safilo is working on a 2020 plan, following the loss of its lucrative Gucci license, which ended in December 2016, two years earlier than planned. Gucci’s collections are now produced by Kering Eyewear.

In October, Safilo’s extraordinary shareholders’ meeting approved the share capital increase up to a maximum of 150 million euros. In the first nine months of 2018, sales were down 9.7 percent to 713.7 million euros compared with 790.5 million euros in the same period last year, but the group progressed on the cost-saving initiatives, with higher efficiencies at the industrial level and of the ongoing savings in overhead expenses. Trocchia, a former Unilever executive, joined Safilo in April, succeeding Luisa Delgado, who retired.

“This is a solid match, we can plan a strong business development,” said Trocchia, trumpeting the company’s expertise.

Michele Norsa, industrial partner of FSI, the fund that bought a 41.2 percent stake in Missoni last summer, and vice chairman of Missoni, said this was “an important partnership that contributes to our goal of adding further value to the brands, while giving a tangible boost to our business plan development, widening its potential of growth.”

The agreement, he continued, will allow Missoni to strengthen its brand position in the fashion and luxury industry.

Norsa, a former Valentino and Salvatore Ferragamo chief executive officer, has worked with Safilo before throughout his career and touted the company’s “extraordinary” skills, its Italian “excellent” quality and product, and the speed with which the agreement was drawn out. “This is an ambitious project. There is a lot of enthusiasm, they are very dynamic, and the contract was ready in a few months, which is rare,” Norsa told WWD.

“We are restructuring to be agile and fast in our processes and decision-making,” Trocchia said. “The market is asking us to be so.”

Norsa underscored the importance for Missoni now to invest in creativity and a different positioning with this license, which will allow to reach new customers and markets.

The executive hinted at “many changes and new licenses to be announced in 2019. Missoni’s brand awareness is very high, and the label can be diversified in a range of product categories, “heightening our notoriety in markets where we are not present. As long as the positioning is correct, licenses allow to expand more rapidly.”

Angela Missoni, chairman and creative director of the Missoni Group, praised Safilo’s “long tradition and strong expertise in its craftsmanship. From a creative perspective, I’ve always loved this product category and cannot wait to see all the diverse elements of the Missoni style developed in this new eyewear collaboration.”

Safilo produces eyewear collections for brands ranging from Dior, Fendi and Givenchy to Jimmy Choo, Max Mara and Moschino. Its own brands include Carrera, Polaroid, Smith, Safilo and Oxydo.

The agreement with Missoni targets a market that is historically very important for both Italian companies: The U.S. Trocchia made a reference to a change in the organization in the region with the appointment last June of Stephen Wright as chief commercial officer of Safilo North America, succeeding Henri Blomqvist, and tasked to further grow the company’s business there. In October last year, Safilo inaugurated new headquarters in Secaucus, N.J., dedicated to the management of the company’s U.S. wholesale business, replacing the headquarters in Parsippany, N.J. The U.S. for Safilo represent more than 40 percent of sales.

Both Missoni and Safilo companies are also eyeing a development of Asia and China. “Our strategies aligned almost magically,” Trocchia said.

While the distribution of the Missoni collections will be selective, and production mainly focused on women’s designs, Trocchia noted that the brand will be able to leverage Safilo’s distribution in around 100,000 doors in 50 countries.