Luxottica Group S.p.A. is the world's biggest eyewear company. Its best known brands include Ray-Ban, Sunglass Hut International, Persol and the recently acquired Oakley, Inc.. It also makes sunglasses for designer brands such as Chanel and Prada, and has extensive interests in prescription glasses as well. Leonardo Del Vecchio started the company in 1961, in Agordo north of Venice; today the company is headquartered in Milan.
Leonardo Del Vecchio began his career as the apprentice to a tool and die maker in Milan, but decided to turn his metalworking skills to making spectacle parts. So in 1961 he moved to Agordo in the province of Belluno
, which is home to most of the Italian eyewear industry. The new company was Luxottica s.a.s., a limited partnership. In 1967 he started selling complete eyeglass frames under the Luxottica brand, which proved successful enough that by 1971 he ended the contract manufacturing business.
Convinced of the need for vertical integration, in 1974 he acquired Scarrone, a distribution company. In 1981 the company set up its first international subsidiary, in Germany, the first in a rapid period of international expansion. The first of many licensing deals with a designer was struck with Armani, in 1988.
The company listed in New York in 1990, and in Milan in December 2000, joining the MIB-30 (now S&P/MIB) index in September 2003. The listing enhanced the company's ability to acquire other brands, starting with Italian brand Vogue in 1990, Persol and US Shoe Corporation (LensCrafters) in 1995, Ray-Ban in 1999 and Sunglass Hut, Inc. in 2001. They went looking for more retail companies, acquiring Sydney-based OPSM in 2003, Pearle Vision in 2004, Surfeyes in 2006, and Cole National in 2004. Most recently, they acquired Oakley in a US$2.1bn deal in November 2007.
The company operates in two sectors, sunglasses and prescription frames, and is split between Manufacturing & Wholesale Distribution, and Retail Distribution.
The house brands include Ray-Ban, Oakley, Revo, Arnette, Killer Loop, Persol, Vogue, Luxottica, and Sferoflex. The company also makes sunglasses sold under designer labels such as Chanel, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana
, Miu Miu, Salvatore Ferragamo
, Donna Karan
, Genny, Byblos, Brooks Brothers
, Sergio Tacchini
, Anne Klein
, Ralph Lauren
, Ralph, Oliver Peoples
, and Adrienne Vittadini. Their most recent deal was with Tiffany & Co.
. These brands are sold in the company's own shops, as well as to independent distributors such as department stores, duty-free shops and opticians.
As of 2008 Luxottica Retail had 6400 retail outlets to their name (North America, China, Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom). The headquarters of the Retail division is in Mason, Ohio
. Their brands include Sunglass Hut International, WatchStation, LensCrafters, OPSM, Laubman & Pank, Budget Eyewear, Pearle Opticians
, Pearle Vision, Surfeyes, Sears Optical, Target Optical, Cole Vision Care, and ILORI. They also own EyeMed Vision Care, one of the leading managed vision care organizations in the United States.