LUXOTTICA’S CHINA PLAY: Eyewear company Luxottica Group SpA said it will acquire 100 percent of Ming Long Optical, a chain based in Guangdong, China, for about 29 million euros, or $34.8 million at current exchange rates. “In our view, China is the next big market for fashion and premium eyewear, hence our desire to quickly build critical mass to be the leaders from the onset,” Leonardo Del Vecchio, chairman of Milan-based Luxottica, said in a statement. Ming Long Optical is expected to have sales of about 12 million euros, or $14.4 million, in fiscal year 2005. It operates 133 stores, mainly in the Guangdong province. Luxottica in the summer announced the purchase of Xueliang Optical, which operates mostly in Beijing. Thanks to the Ming Long acquisition, Luxottica will operate 278 locations in two of the top optical markets of mainland China — Guangdong and Beijing — and stores in Hong Kong. Both acquisitions are still subject to regulatory approval in China, which is expected next year.
SOFTWARE TO SHOP BY: Crabtree & Evelyn will use software from Mercent of Seattle to more effectively reach online customers through a variety of shopping portals, including Amazon, Froogle and BizRate, Mercent said. The Mercent Commerce System automatically prepares a retailer’s shopping data to send to a variety of online search engines, portals and malls in the format they need so potential customers can find their merchandise more easily. The software can reduce costs and increase sales online, said Mercent chairman Eric Best.