Safilo’s Longarone Plant Saved by Thélios, Innovatek

MILAN — Safilo’s employees at its Longarone plant have found two new employers.

The eyewear company said Tuesday that it has reached an agreement with trade unions whereby its 468 employees based at the storied Longarone site will relocate at Thélios, the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned eyewear manufacturer, and Innovatek, owned by entrepreneur Carlo Fulchir.

More from WWD

As part of Tuesday’s agreement, undersigned by the Veneto Region and its city counselor for employment Elena Donazzan, all employees will transition to the new companies, which will take over the industrial complex, in Italy’s Veneto region, one of the country’s key eyewear manufacturing hubs.

In particular about 250 Safilo workers will be relocated over several phases until 2025 at Thélios, while the remainder will join Innovatek, also in different phases.

The latter company emerged as a runner-up in the rescue process earlier this summer, squelching earlier speculation that Marcolin could chip into the deal. Innovatek submitted a 10-million-euro business plan pledging to hire more than 200 Safilo employees. It had a lukewarm reception from local trade unions and especially from Stefano Zanon, the Femca Cisl general secretary, who expressed doubts about Innovatek’s ability to fulfill its commitment.

“We are fully aware that Innovatek is not Thélios and that the road to putting in place their industrial plan, which we’re not enthusiastic about, may be paved with hurdles,” he said, adding that the union wished for Thélios to absorb the entire workforce.

Commenting on the agreement, Veneto Region president Luca Zaia expressed pride in the institutions’ role in fine-tuning and easing the deal. “News that Safilo is leaving Longarone is filled with nostalgia, but it doesn’t dent the satisfaction for closing a deal that was all but granted and which will allow manufacturing to stay put at the site,” he said in a note.

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.

After the completion of the deal, Safilo relied 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 countered 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.

Best of WWD

Click here to read the full article.