Italian spectacle frame maker, Luxottica Group SpA, and French spectacle lens manufacturer, Essilor International SA, have agreed to merge and the new group will be known as Essilor-Luxottica. While the two companies lead their respective categories, the deal will create by far the largest entity in the global eyewear market. Here are some of the competitive advantages that stand to benefit the two companies through this agreement.
Each company dominates its respective category in eyewear
Luxottica and Essilor are two of the leading global players in eyewear. While both companies serve customers with vision impairments, there is limited direct overlap in their operations, which makes the deal a strong fit. According to Euromonitor International’s Eyewear research, Luxottica Group SpA leads with a 14% of global eyewear sales in 2015. The group is involved in the design, manufacturing, distribution and retail of spectacle frames and sunglasses. The company has a strong and well-established portfolio with key brands including Ray-Ban, Oakley, Vogue, Persol, Oliver Peoples, Foster Grant and Bolon. It also carries a range of licensed brands such as Bvlgari, Burberry, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Tiffany & Co, Michael Kors, Tory Burch and Coach.
Following Luxottica, Essilor International SA ranks second, holding a 13% value share. Essilor is a leading spectacle lens manufacturer and owns lens brands, such as Varilux, Crizal, and Transitions. Similar to Luxottica, Essilor also owns a broad distribution network, including an online presence. Luxottica and Essilor are far ahead in the competition, as Johnson & Johnson Inc is the next largest, with a 4% value share.
Global Eyewear Market in 2015
Source: Euromonitor International
Deal accelerates company expansion across categories
The eyewear landscape has witnessed a shift over recent years. Traditionally, the eyewear industry included spectacle frames and sunglasses, contact lenses and spectacle lenses. These categories were characterised by a distinct set of players that did not operate outside their own sphere of expertise. However, with rising competition from low-priced rivals and the challenges of online distribution, even leading players, such as Essilor and Luxottica, have been spurred to extend their fortunes across categories. Essilor entered the spectacle frames and sunglasses categories after acquiring US manufacturer FGX International Holdings Ltd. Luxottica Group SpA has grown its retail operations through acquisitions made in order to sell spectacles as well as contact lenses. The merger will support both companies and clearly consolidate their market presence.
New group to further expand into online retail
The agreement will also help both companies boost their retail network, particularly the new company’s online presence. According to Euromonitor International’s Eyewear research, global eyewear sales through internet retailing grew by 79% in current value terms over 2011-2016. The number of digital consumers is increasing around the world and online shopping shows no signs of slowing down; e-commerce has therefore become a top priority for eyewear companies. Luxottica and Essilor have pursued an acquisition and partnership strategy to accelerate their online sales growth. In 2014, Luxottica acquired glasses.com from WellPoint Inc. Essilor acquired an online retailer, coastal.com, from Coastal Contacts Inc. Essilor also owns FramesDirect.com and EyeBuyDirect.com. The merger will allow these companies to further expand their business in online retailing and enhance online accessibility.
The global eyewear market is expected to continue growing at a CAGR of 2% at constant 2016 prices over the forecast period. The demand for eyewear is set to remain strong. The ageing population, increasing myopia prevalence, awareness of sun-related vision problems and preventive care, and rising middle class in emerging markets are key drivers behind the growth of eyewear sales.
The new group of Essilor and Luxottica will be a strong leader, with an extensive product portfolio covering multiple categories. The new company will further improve their product mix in spectacle lenses, frames and sunglasses to cater to various consumer needs. In order to do so, the company will combine their frames and lens business into one and expand its product offering at different price points. Also, the company will pursue innovation to create more value in their products. Essilor has been known as a leading company in lens technology and developed advanced lens products including Eyezen (blue light filter lenses) and Crizal (no-glare lenses). Luxottica also showed a large interest in technology and partnered with Intel to develop smart glasses. The new company will incorporate each of their expertise to develop new and innovative products that offer vision solutions. Furthermore, the company will strengthen the supply chain by bringing the design and manufacturing of lenses and frames, distribution and final sales of the products under one roof.