Luxottica to keep up with M&A in 2012

MILAN | Mon Oct 24, 2011 - Italy's eyewear maker Luxottica is looking to new acquisitions in fast-growing markets in 2012, as it moves to strengthen its market leadership in a challenging year for the global economy.

Luxottica
Kate Moss for eyewear brand Vogue, made by Luxottica

Chief Executive Andrea Guerra told Reuters on Monday he expected 2012 to be an "important" year for Luxottica, which has invested in fast-growing countries to offset risks of a slowdown in mature markets.

"I think that next year will be again an important year (for Luxottica). But it's not a year of growth for everybody," Guerra said in a phone interview after releasing positive third-quarter results.

"We will keep up with our pace of small and medium acquisitions," he said, citing Latin America as the group's main target market.

The world's biggest premium eyewear maker completed the acquisition of optical retailer Multiopticas International in Latin America this year for a total investment of around 140 million euros. It also entered the Mexican and Israeli markets with smaller retail acquisitions.

Guerra said the key U.S. market, where Luxottica is also listed, was in "great shape." In China, the owner of Ray-Ban and Oakley brands is planning to open between 60 to 70 new stores in 2012 after around 60 new openings this year, the CEO said.

The CEO confirmed his indications in March that profits could grow twice as fast as sales in 2011 if revenues grow high-single digit, in line with last year.

Guerra said Luxottica was in talks with Giorgio Armani group over a license currently held by rival Italian eyewear maker Safilo (SFLG.MI). The license contract with Safilo expires in 2012.

Luxottica posted a 9.1 percent rise in third-quarter net profits to 111.2 million euros ($154 million) on Monday, while sales grew 4 percent to 1.524 billion euros despite the impact of a weak dollar.

($1 = 0.720 Euros)

(Reporting by Antonella Ciancio and Sabina Suzzi; Editing by Stephen Jewkes)

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