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Eyewear group Safilo's portfolio overhaul boosts core profit margin

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Gucci's sunglasses are seen at the Mido exhibition for glasses and eyewear products in Milan
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(The story corrects brands in second paragraph to Hugo Boss and Tommy Hilfiger; not Chanel, Prada and Versace)

(Reuters) - Italian eyewear group Safilo reported an improved core profit margin for the full-year as sales received a boost from its brand portfolio overhaul.

The maker of frames for Hugo Boss and Tommy Hilfiger reported a preliminary full-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) margin of 8.7%, compared with breakeven a year ago.

Preliminary sales in 2021 rose by 26.3% at constant currencies to 969.6 million euros ($1.1 billion) but fell 0.7% to 232.2 million euros in the fourth quarter as new restrictions followed the spread of COVID-19 variant Omicron.

Safilo had to deal with the impact of losing most of its LVMH licences, including its most lucrative one with Dior, and its Gucci license from Kering.

To reduce its exposure to sunglasses, which were less resilient than prescription frames during the pandemic as people stayed home and travelled less, it launched an optical range for its Polaroid brand and expanded its Carrera range.

($1 = 0.8977 euros)

(Reporting by Silvia Recchimuzzi in Gdansk; Editing by Edmund Blair and David Goodman)

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