LVMH Said Coming to the Rescue of Safilo’s Longarone Plant

MILAN – Safilo’s industrial plant in Longarone, Italy may have found its white knights.

According to local media reports, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Marcolin are in advanced discussions with Safilo to take over the plant and its employees whose future, as reported, is uncertain.

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Last January, on the sidelines of reporting preliminary 2022 revenues that hit the 1 billion euro benchmark, up 11.1 percent versus a year earlier, the eyewear manufacturer, licensee for brands including Boss, Dsquared2, Missoni and Tommy Hilfiger, among others, said that it had “given the management a mandate to explore alternative solutions for the Longarone plant.”

That decision was made “with regards to the ongoing strategic analyses and taking into consideration the evolution of the product portfolio, the economic context, the competitive dynamics and a persistent production overcapacity,” the company said at the time.

A total of 468 employees are based at the storied Longarone site, in Italy’s Veneto region, one of the country’s key eyewear manufacturing hubs. The facility flanks Safilo’s production sites in Santa Maria di Sala and Bergamo, as well as a logistic center in Padua.

Italian media reports suggested that LVMH’s group managing director Antonio Belloni met with local authorities and Safilo representatives in the Veneto region, sharing the luxury conglomerate’s willingness to hire 250 people currently employed at the Longarone plant through its Thélios eyewear manufacturing company.

LVMH had no comments on Saturday.

The French group has been at the forefront of the eyewear landscape since 2018 when it formed the Thélios joint venture with Marcolin. 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.

Fellow eyewear specialist Marcolin is also said to be chipping in, agreeing to hire around 50 of Safilo’s employees based at the plant. The company had no comment on Saturday.

If the reports are correct, they would confirm updates shared by Safilo chief executive officer Angelo Trocchia during the company’s Capital Markets Day in March that a potential buyer could come from the eyewear industry.

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