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Marcolin Renews Skechers License as Sale Speculation Swirls

MILAN — While speculation continues to swirl around a possible sale of Marcolin, the Italian eyewear company said Monday it has renewed its license with Skechers USA Inc.

The agreement for the design, production and worldwide distribution of Skechers sunglasses, eyeglasses and kids’ eyewear was first started in 2014 and has been further extended until Dec. 31, 2030.

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Speculation has resurfaced about leading private equity firm PAI Partners looking to exit Marcolin. This would not be surprising since PAI Partners acquired a majority stake in Marcolin in 2012 — way beyond a fund’s usual exit time frame — and the eyewear company, led by chief executive officer Fabrizio Curci, has been logging growing profitability and sales and in 2022 secured a perpetual license with Tom Ford. Marcolin and Tom Ford’s license dates back to 2005 and sources believe this could be a significant additional asset for a potential buyer, given the success of the brand’s eyewear.

Neither PAI Partners nor Marcolin is commenting on the rumors, which include EssilorLuxottica and Kering said to be eyeing Marcolin. The latter speculation, however, seems inconsistent since Marcolin’s business is mainly based on the licensing model, while Kering Eyewear’s is not — unless the Tom Ford agreement, which is highly successful, could be enough to tip the scale into a deal.

Kering Eyewear, led by president and CEO Roberto Vedovotto, last year reached a milestone 1.5 billion euros in sales and is marking the 10th anniversary of the company this year.

Marcolin produces eyewear collections for brands ranging from Bally, Moncler, Zegna and Max Mara to Tod’s, Pucci, Guess, Timberland and Adidas Original, to name a few. Proprietary brands include Web Eyewear and the Ic! Berlin brand, a deal inked in November that saw Marcolin integrating Ic! Berlin’s around 140 employees.

Established in 2018 by the merger of France’s Essilor and Italy’s Luxottica Group, EssilorLuxottica in 2022 reported consolidated revenues of 24.5 billion euros. While it does include proprietary brands, from Ray-Ban to Oakley and Persol, the group also has a strong portfolio of licensed brands that range from Michael Kors, Giorgio Armani and Brunello Cucinelli to Burberry, Chanel, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Tory Burch and Versace, among others.

While yearend Marcolin results will be released later in March, in the first nine months of 2023 net profit rose 15.4 percent to 13.5 million euros, and, including non-recurring costs, adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization climbed 28 percent to 64.6 million euros. Operating profit jumped more than 50 percent to 46.4 million euros. Sales amounted to 421.6 million euros compared with 409.7 million euros in the first nine months of 2022.

PAI Partners bought Marcolin, which was founded in 1961 and is based in Longarone, in Italy’s Veneto region known for being an eyewear manufacturing hub, from a number of investors who included the Marcolin family and brothers Diego and Andrea Della Valle, and delisted the company.

Marcolin in 2017 set up a joint venture with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton to create 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, and Marcolin bought back the 10 percent stake LVMH owned in that Italian company.

Separately and in other eyewear news on Monday, Safilo Group and Missoni revealed the renewal of their global licensing agreement for Missoni brand eyewear until the end of 2029. The agreement was first inked in 2020. Safilo will report its yearend results on Thursday. In addition to proprietary brands Smith, Carrera and Polaroid, the group lists among its licensed brands Carolina Herrera, Boss, David Beckham and Tommy Hilfiger, to name a few.

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