Marcolin and Viva Focus on 'Transforming the Landscape' in the Eyewear Market

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Giovanni Zoppas (l) and Fabrizio Gamberini.
NEW YORK—Executives of Marcolin and Viva report they are now focusing on the work involved in bringing together the potential of the two companies following Marcolin’s acquisition, formally closed this month, of the Viva International Group.

In an exclusive interview with VMail, Marcolin S.p.A.’s CEO, Giovanni Zoppas, said, “We are so very positive about this opportunity for Marcolin to really extend its involvement in the wholesale business with the acquisition of Viva International and to truly transform the landscape among the leading eyewear companies in this industry by creating a new leadership player. We looked at Viva’s position, especially in the U.S., as valuable in so many ways, from its position in the optical channel, its brand portfolio and the expertise of its team and the management of relationships with its accounts.”

He continued, “We recognized how complementary they are to Marcolin’s international presence, its luxury and fashion brands and Italian heritage. We intend to keep all of these and enhance these even as we broaden Marcolin’s position in the optical channel and expand Viva’s international range and its presence in sun.”

Marcolin’s acquisition of Viva International Group, which took part in conjunction with its affiliates and PAI Partners, was originally announced Oct 24, as reported by VMail. The deal closed earlier this month.

Emphasized Zoppas, “We are taking a ‘governance’ approach to this combination of companies, rather than a ‘reorganization’ approach.”

Fabrizio Gamberini, who has been CEO, Marcolin USA (which includes U.S., Canada, Mexico/Central and South America with the exception of Brazil) continues in that role. Gamberini, who reports to Zoppas, is now also CEO of Viva International Group and he will oversee that business.

Marcolin’s U.S. headquarters, in Arizona, which is a main distribution center, will continue to service accounts, the executives said. Viva’s N.J. offices and warehouse, will also continue to service accounts for that business, as a larger evaluation considers synergies.

At Marcolin, sales for the 3 O's have been headed by VP sales for the company’s trend division, Bob Dunn, who will continue in that role, while Ben Wolf, remains VP of fashion/luxury brands and Tom Seltzer, VP of retail sales (non-optical, including Saks, Bergdorf, Solstice and others).

At Viva, sales are overseen by Jan Cory, SVP of U.S. domestic sales and Canada. Sal Rianna, is CFO/CAO assistant treasurer; Jenn Orentas is VP, merchandising international brands (Guess, Guess by Marciano, Harley Davidson and Gant); Timothy Parker is VP, merchandising of domestic brands (including Candie’s, Bongo, Rampage, Cover Girl and others); while Mike Rodin, is director of Viva’s international sales in Latin America.

Zoppas explained that while they report to Gamberini, Orentis will also have a ‘dotted line’ report to Marcolin’s Valerio Giacobbi, Marcolin S.p.A’s general manager of sales, marketing and business strategies, who is based in Italy, while Riano will have the same to Marcolin S.p.A.’s CFO, Massimo Stefanello. Giovanni Pesce, who heads Viva’s international sales/distributor sales for Europe/Asia will also report to Giacobbi.

Discussions about the 165-member Viva sales force in the U.S. and Marcolin’s 40-member team are being held to determine the best way to extend new brands from Marcolin’s fashion group further into the optical channel. “There are hardly any areas of overlap,” noted Gamberini, while Zoppas added, “We see that the many strengths of Viva’s portfolio and Marcolin’s as representing all segments of the market, with a great range from mainstream to sports and lifestyle brands up to sophisticated luxury.”

The very broad brand mix of Marcolin features its luxury division including Tom Ford, Balenciaga, Montblanc, and Roberto Cavalli, among others, while its fashion or trend portfolio, as the company refers to it, now consists of such brands as Kenneth Cole, Kenneth Cole Reaction, Timberland, Swarovski, DSquared, National, Diesel and Just Cavalli.

Zoppas and Gamberini told VMail they estimate that before the deal, Marcolin’s overall sales have been, overall, approximately 60 percent sun and 40 percent in optical, while Viva’s overall balance has been 80 percent optical and 20 percent sun. Subsequent to the acquisition, Marcolin is looking to rebalance that with a goal of 50/50 by building penetration among independents, and key optical accounts in optical while Viva builds in sun in the U.S. and around the world.