Safilo acquires 70% stake in US brand Blenders Eyewear
Italian eyewear group Safilo has bought a 70% stake in Blenders Eyewear LLC from Chase Fisher, who founded the company in San Diego, California, in 2012, and remains as CEO with a 30% interest.
Blenders Eyewear produces an extensive range of men's and women’s sunglasses and skiing goggles, and owes its success to its innovative e-commerce platform which, together with strong digital and social media capabilities, enabled the company to grow quickly and profitably. The net sales forecast for 2019 is $42 million, up 40% over 2018 and equivalent to a compounded annual growth rate in three years of 175%. The whole of Blenders Eyewear's revenue is generated in the USA, and 95% of it comes through its B2C site, with the recent addition of a first Blenders flagship store in San Diego.
“We are thrilled to welcome to Safilo an inspiring brand like Blenders Eyewear, a fast-growing e-commerce-powered business at the forefront of the latest direct-to-consumer and omni-channel capabilities, which will enrich our proprietary portfolio with new strong skills and a particular focus on our key US market,” said Angelo Trocchia, CEO of Safilo.
Blenders Eyewear sunglasses are inspired by the active lifestyle typical of California. They feature a daring, colourful aesthetic and offer good value for money, appealing to a broad range of both male and female customers, especially Millennial and Gen Z consumers. “With Blenders, we aim to foster and accelerate our e-commerce and omni-channel strategy, leveraging the digital DNA and proven capabilities of the brand and putting Safilo’s global capabilities at its disposal to promote [Blenders’] global expansion,” added Trocchia.
“Safilo’s product know-how and global distribution capabilities are the perfect complement to our digitally native business model, opening up worldwide expansion potential. We’re on a mission to build a thriving global community that inspires people to live in forward motion,” said Chase Fisher, founder and CEO of Blenders Eyewear, who will retain his corporate role and continue to operate from the San Diego headquarters.
Safilo’s acquisition of a 70% controlling interest in Blenders Eyewear was based on a total company valuation, on a cash and debt-free basis, of $90 million. The acquisition will be financed through available cash and credit facilities, and through a €30 million loan by Safilo’s main shareholder, Multibrands Italy BV, which is controlled by HAL Holding NV. The funds will be made available once the operation will be close to completion.
Safilo has been on the market since 1878, and it manufactures and distributes eyeglasses frames, sunglasses and sports eyewear. Its products are sold via approximately 100,000 select retailers worldwide. The group’s portfolio includes proprietary brands Carrera, Polaroid, Smith and Safilo, and licensed brands Dior, Dior Homme, Fendi, Banana Republic, Boss, Elie Saab, Fossil, Givenchy, Havaianas, Hugo, Jimmy Choo, Juicy Couture, Kate Spade New York, Liz Claiborne, Love Moschino, Marc Jacobs, Max Mara, Max&Co., Moschino, Pierre Cardin, Rag&bone, Rebecca Minkoff, Saks Fifth Avenue, Swatch and Tommy Hilfiger.
The group is listed on the Italian stock exchange and closed 2018 with a net revenue of €962.9 million.
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