* Luxottica sees sales and profit growing at constant FX
* Currency volatility shaved more than 5 pct off Q1 sales
* Wholesale and retail sales rise in April
(Adds CEO comments, detail)
MILAN, April 29 Luxottica, the world's
largest eyewear maker by revenue, said it expected underlying
sales and profits to rise this year after it posted a
year-on-year drop in first-quarter sales due to currency
The maker of Ray Ban sunglasses said on Tuesday wholesale
and retail sales rose in April, making the company confident of
its prospects in the sunny months to come, although currency
volatility could continue.
"April went very well," Chief Executive Andrea Guerra told
Reuters. "We are looking ahead with optimism ... there are two
important months ahead of us."
Sales at the LensCrafters optical retail chain, which has
lagged other divisions in recent years, returned to growth in
April, when sales rose more than 2 percent, Guerra said.
Orders for its wholesale portfolio rose more than 10 percent
in April, and sales at the Sunglass Hut retail network grew at
the same rate.
Luxottica, which makes over half its sales in North America,
said currency volatility had shaved more than 5 percent off
reported revenue for the first quarter.
Sales by the maker of eyeglasses for Giorgio Armani and
Prada fell to 1.84 billion euros ($2.55 billion) in
the quarter to end-March, down 1.2 percent from the year-ago
quarter. The figure compared with a Thomson Reuters
SmartEstimate of 1.86 billion euros.
Quarterly net profit slipped 1.2 percent to 157 million
euros, but the operating margin rose at constant exchange rates.
Luxottica continues to apply its "rule of thumb" target for
sales to rise by a high single-digit percentage at constant
exchange rates and for profits to grow twice as fast as sales,
Its category leadership is partly thanks to its Ray Ban and
Oakley brands, two of the world's biggest for sunglasses, and
also to its ownership of the companies along its supply chain,
which allows it to offer a seamless service in making eyewear
under licence for fashion brands, analysts say.
Its most recent licence agreement, a 10-year deal with U.S.
company Michael Kors, should generate at least $100
million every year for the first three years, Guerra said.
Luxottica also signed a deal with Google in March
to design, make and distribute Google Glass, a type of
spectacles with a tiny, Internet-connected screen.
Guerra said it was too early to give any further details of
the agreement and that the companies still had to deal with the
question of how to make the new technology user-friendly.
"The opportunities are immense. There is the chance to
construct a whole new world ... but there are all the potential
pitfalls that come with anything new," Guerra said.
The new version of Google Glass, which should arrive on the
market in 2015, will be available only in the United States to
begin with, Guerra told a shareholders' meeting in Milan.
($1 = 0.7223 Euros)
(Reporting by Isla Binnie; editing by Danilo Masoni and Jane