MILAN — Safilo’s Longarone plant has finally been sold.
The eyewear company said Tuesday that it has finalized the sale of its storied manufacturing complex in the Veneto region, one of the country’s key eyewear manufacturing districts, to Thélios, the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned eyewear manufacturer, and Innovatek, owned by entrepreneur Carlo Fulchir.
“We worked with determination to reach this agreement, which will ensure, as we hoped, jobs for all the workers at the manufacturing site in Longarone, allowing continuity of the current know-how in the sector,” said Safilo Group’s chief executive officer Angelo Trocchia. “Despite the complex situation, thanks to the support of the Veneto Region and trade unions, we were able together with Thélios and Innovatek to create the conditions for the best output possible,” he said.
Financial details of the transaction were not revealed.
As reported, at the beginning of September the parties reached an agreement with trade unions whereby all previous Safilo employees would transition to the new companies, which are taking over the industrial complex.
Thélios said Tuesday that it will employ 247 Safilo workers at its new “campus,” as the company calls the multicomplex production site resulting from the addition of Safilo’s Longarone plant to the nearby Manifattura Thélios premise. The LVMH-owned company currently employs about 1,000 workers in the area.
“With this strategic deal for Thélios, LVMH further strengthens its presence in Italy continuing to support the ecosystem of companies contributing to the group’s success,” said Toni Belloni, managing director of LVMH. “Thanks to this additional investment on the territory, our maisons, relying on Thélios for the manufacturing of eyewear collections, can count on a high-value and renowned know-how to support their growth and keep their leadership in luxury eyewear.”
The transaction comes after Thélios acquired Metallart in 2022, a metalworking atelier in the region.
“This deal will allow us to internalize pivotal phases in eyewear manufacturing, ensuring full quality control…and it confirms our commitment to value the excellent know-how of this district with strategic investments,” said Alessandro Zanardo, CEO of Thélios. The executive touted the role played by the Veneto region and its city counselor for employment Elena Donazzan in easing and supporting the transaction process.
Innovatek emerged as a runner-up in the plant’s rescue process last summer, squelching earlier speculation that Marcolin could take part in the deal. Innovatek submitted a 10 million-euro business plan pledging to hire more than 200 Safilo employees. Its proposal had a lukewarm reception from local trade unions at the time, which expressed doubts about Innovatek’s ability to fulfill its commitment.
Over the past few years, Safilo has been restructuring and realigning its industrial footprint to the new production scenario the company faced with the expected exit of the Dior, Fendi and Givenchy brands, following the decision in 2017 of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton to create a venture with Marcolin, called Thélios, for the production and distribution of eyewear collections.
In 2021, LVMH took full control of that venture after agreeing to purchase Marcolin’s 49 percent stake in the business for an undisclosed sum. Separately, Marcolin bought back the 10 percent stake LVMH owned in that Italian company. Thélios’ state-of-the-art, 194,400-square-foot plant inaugurated in 2018 is also based in Longarone.
With the completion of the deal, Safilo will rely on its two remaining production sites in Santa Maria di Sala and Bergamo, as well as a logistic center in Padua. In mid-2020 Safilo closed the process for the sale of the business branch of its Martignacco production site to iVision Tech, a local eyewear-maker also launched and managed by the Fulchir family.
In the first six months of the year, the resilience of the European market and a rebound of sales in Asia made up for soft business in North America, as Safilo Group closed the period with revenues of 550.1 million euros, down 3.6 percent compared with 570.9 million euros in the same period last year.
In addition to proprietary brands including Smith, Carrera and Polaroid, Safilo produces eyewear collections under license for brands from David Beckham, Carolina Herrera and Chiara Ferragni to Isabel Marant, Jimmy Choo, Marc Jacobs, Missoni and Moschino, among some.
Last September, the company inked a multiyear eyewear license with Stuart Weitzman and announced a new high-tech Carrera model in partnership with Amazon, equipped with smart features courtesy of Alexa, as reported.