Suavely answering questions about his fashionable eyewear company, Andrea Guerra does not believe Warby Parker poses a threat to the eye glass giant Luxottica. According to Bloomberg, Guerra believes that Warby Parker’s success only helps the industry as a whole.
From the article:
Luxottica on Tuesday will lay out its strategy at an investors’ summit in Cincinnati, and its executives probably won’t mention a certain eyeglass-selling startup from New York’s swanky SoHo neighborhood. The company instead will outline two immediate and ambitious goals: convincing Americans to buy a second, third, or fourth pair of glasses and getting customers in emerging markets such as Thailand and Chile to spring for sunglasses and prescription frames at a upper-middle-class price point.
Guerra believes the potential on both fronts is huge. “Ten years ago, people had a basic, functional relationship with their glasses,” he explains. “Today, we have something that is much more important—much more valuable—and it’s an emotional relationship. This new thing has allowed the industry to be completely different … and not mature at all, even though it’s over 200 years old.”
Take Ray-Ban, a brand Luxottica bought in 1999. Sales at Rayban.com are increasing by almost 40 percent a year, and the company is now making 1,200 solid-gold pairs that will sell for an opulent $3,800. Growth has been even faster for Persol, a mostly hand-made line that Luxottica bought in 1996; Persol, a much smaller business overall, regularly sells its glasses for nearly $400 a pair. Oakley, a brand Luxottica bought in 2006, “is flying,” according to Guerra.
In the first half of this year, Luxottica sales increased by 7 percent, to $5.1 billion, and profit surged 16 percent, to $487 million. In addition to fashion, demand has been driven by technology. The share of sunglass models offered with prescription lenses has surged from about 15 percent to almost 90 percent in just a few years.