Safilo North America has promoted Ross Brownlee to president and chief operating officer.

This story first appeared in the May 22, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

A 12-year veteran of the eyewear firm, Brownlee recently relocated from Hong Kong, where he served as managing director of Safilo Far East. Brownlee is now based at the company’s Parsippany, N.J., headquarters.

Brownlee will be responsible for all management and operations of Safilo USA and Safilo Canada. He will oversee optical and retail sales, product planning and development, licensing and marketing and new business development.

“Ross Brownlee is one of the best resources we have at Safilo Group and in this prime position he will further improve our strong presence in the North American market, enhancing opportunities between parent and subsidiary, having already been instrumental at building both our wholesale and retail channels along the Asian Pacific Rim and our global duty-free business,” said Roberto Vedovotto, chief executive officer of Safilo Group.

Brownlee replaces Claudio Gottardi, who was ceo at Safilo USA before he left to take on the same role at Marchon.

Based in Milan, the Safilo Group holds the licenses for such brands as Marc Jacobs, Jimmy Choo and Gucci. The firm’s retail business spans over 300 stores around the world, including the Solstice, Just Spectacles and Sunglass Island chains.