MILAN — Safilo Group SpA can breathe a sigh of relief.

This story first appeared in the November 11, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

After speculation the Italian eyewear firm could lose one of its most lucrative contracts, with Gucci Group, both companies said Monday they had renewed license deals for the production and worldwide distribution of branded eyeglass frames and sunglass collections for Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Alexander McQueen.

The new Gucci license, which represents around 20 percent of Safilo’s turnover, now runs through 2018, while those for Bottega Veneta and Alexander McQueen have been extended until 2010 and 2013, respectively.

“Safilo’s consistent respect for the spirit, heritage and exclusivity of these Gucci Group brands has made them a wonderful partner to work with. We look forward to building further on this strong foundation as we continue to expand our eyewear business in the years ahead,” said Gucci Group president and chief executive officer Robert Polet.

Safilo vice chairman and ceo Massimiliano Tabacchi said the target was to further strengthen the Gucci brand’s leadership in all worldwide markets.

The Gucci-Safilo relationship began with Gucci’s first eyewear collection in 1989. However, the loss of the Stella McCartney license — also part of the Gucci Group portfolio — to rival Luxottica Group SpA in April led some to speculate the Gucci contract was at risk.

Safilo, which has licenses with Giorgio Armani, Dior and Valentino, among others, added Bottega Veneta and Alexander McQueen in 2002.

The announcement anticipated Safilo’s third-quarter results, which are scheduled to be released on Friday. The company revised down its full-year outlook in July, after net profits slumped by more than a third in the first half of 2008.

Safilo’s stock was up nearly 16 percent to 0.87 euros, or $1.12 at current exchange, at midday Monday on the Milan Bourse.

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