Luxottica Group S.p.A.: Revolutionising the Eyewear Industry



Luxottica Group S.p.A., headquartered in Milan, Italy, has emerged as a trailblazer in the eyewear sector, reshaping the industry landscape with its innovative approach. Founded by Leonardo Del Vecchio in 1961, Luxottica has evolved into a global conglomerate renowned for its vertically integrated business model, spanning design, manufacture, distribution, and retail of eyewear.

Luxottica Origins and Expansion

Leonardo Del Vecchio's entrepreneurial journey commenced in Agordo, Italy, where he laid the foundation for Luxottica as a sunglasses manufacturer. Recognising the significance of vertical integration, Del Vecchio strategically acquired various businesses, propelling Luxottica's rapid expansion. Notably, Luxottica's early success was underscored by its groundbreaking designer licensing deal with Giorgio Armani, marking the beginning of numerous fruitful collaborations.

Acquisition and Integration

Recognising the imperative of vertical integration, Luxottica embarked on strategic initiatives to fortify its operations. In 1974, the company bolstered its distribution capabilities with the acquisition of Scarrone. This pivotal move laid the groundwork for subsequent expansions, exemplified by the establishment of its inaugural international subsidiary in Germany in 1981, marking the onset of a rapid global expansion phase.

Luxottica's pursuit of collaborative ventures gained momentum with its pioneering licensing agreement with Giorgio Armani in 1988, signalling the beginning of fruitful partnerships with renowned designers.

The company's strategic evolution continued with its listing on the New York Stock Exchange in 1990, followed by its Milan listing in December 2000. These milestones not only facilitated access to capital but also empowered Luxottica to leverage its shares for strategic acquisitions. Notable acquisitions included Italian brand Vogue Eyewear in 1990, Persol, and LensCrafters in 1995, further bolstered by the acquisition of Ray-Ban from Bausch & Lomb in 1999 and Sunglass Hut in 2001.

Luxottica's expansion into the retail sector gathered momentum with the acquisition of Sydney-based OPSM in 2003, followed by Pearle Vision and Cole National in 2004, solidifying its retail presence across diverse markets.

In a landmark move in November 2007, Luxottica acquired Oakley for US$2.1 billion, a move that underscored its market dominance. The acquisition, however, sparked controversy as Oakley contested Luxottica's pricing practices, leading to a hostile takeover after Luxottica dropped Oakley from its stores, causing a significant decline in Oakley's stock price.

Subsequent strategic manoeuvres included the acquisition of Erroca for €20 million in August 2011, further enhancing Luxottica's brand portfolio and market position. In March 2014, Luxottica announced a strategic partnership with Google for the development and integration of Google Glass into its eyewear offerings, underscoring its commitment to innovation and technological advancement.

Merger with Essilor

In January 2017, Luxottica made history with its announcement of a merger with Essilor, a leading French optical firm. This transformative agreement resulted in the creation of EssilorLuxottica, a global powerhouse in the eyewear industry. The merger not only reinforced Luxottica's market dominance but also granted it control over Foster Grant and Costa Del Mar, further enhancing its competitive edge.

Product Portfolio

Luxottica's diverse portfolio boasts an impressive array of iconic brands, including Ray-Ban, Persol, and Oakley, alongside coveted partnerships with esteemed fashion houses such as Chanel and Prada. The company's commitment to innovation and quality ensures a wide-ranging selection of eyewear that caters to diverse consumer preferences and style sensibilities.

Retail Presence

Luxottica's retail division boasts an extensive network of over 9,100 stores worldwide, encompassing flagship brands like Sunglass Hut and LensCrafters. This widespread retail presence provides consumers with unparalleled access to Luxottica's iconic eyewear brands, delivering exceptional customer experiences across diverse markets.

A Commitment to Vision Care

Luxottica's dedication to vision care extends beyond retail, with ownership of EyeMed Vision Care, a leading vision benefits company in the United States. Additionally, Luxottica's partnership with OneSight underscores its commitment to philanthropy, providing vision services to underserved communities globally.

Criticism and Market Influence

Despite its achievements, Luxottica has faced criticism for its pricing practices and market dominance. Accusations of monopolistic behaviour and inflated prices have prompted scrutiny from regulators and consumer advocacy groups. The company's extensive portfolio of brands and retail outlets has raised concerns about competition and consumer choice, prompting calls for greater transparency and accountability.

Luxottica Response and Defense

Luxottica has defended its business practices, citing competition in the marketplace and its commitment to delivering quality products and services. The company maintains that its market share is a reflection of consumer preference and innovation, rather than anti-competitive behaviour. Furthermore, Luxottica highlights its efforts to provide affordable eyewear through various channels, including online retail and partnerships with vision insurance providers.

Wrapping Up

Luxottica Group S.p.A.'s remarkable journey from humble beginnings to global prominence underscores the power of visionary leadership and strategic foresight. With its merger with Essilor marking a new chapter in its storied history, Luxottica continues to redefine industry standards, setting the benchmark for innovation, quality, and customer-centricity in the dynamic world of eyewear. Despite challenges and criticisms, Luxottica's unwavering commitment to excellence ensures its enduring legacy as a trailblazer in the eyewear industry.

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