LVMH buys eyewear brand Barton Perreira as it looks to rebound from luxury slowdown
Barton Perreira sunglasses are displayed during ‘A Good Time At Goodman’s’ held at Goodman’s Men’s Store in New York City.
Astrid Stawiarz | Getty Images
LVMH is buying luxury eyewear brand Barton Perreira, famed for making James Bond’s shades, as it taps into the fast-growing designer sunglass market.
LVMH’s Thelios eyewear division agreed to acquire Irvine, California-based Barton Perreira for an undisclosed sum. The deal is Thelio’s second big acquisition in two months, after it bought French Alpine brand Vuarnet in September.
Luxury eyewear, which includes sunglasses and optical eyewear, is growing rapidly across the world. Luxury houses see eyewear as a lower-priced entry point to their brands for younger consumers, and now make a wider array of stylish, higher-quality frames. Sunglasses are becoming more popular in Asia, while demand for optical frames is growing as people spend more time on their computer and phone screens, analysts say.
Global eyewear sales topped $107 billion in 2022, according to EssilorLuxottica, with growth expected to be in the mid single digits in the coming years.
“For the maisons of luxury, eyewear is in many cases the first contact point with consumers,” said Alessandro Zanardo, CEO of Thelios. “There has also been a shift in the relevance of this category in the whole universe of the maisons. The product is not just something that is made in a factory, to put a logo on and sell. It is something that is really created and designed in the maison environment. The quality is really increasing so customers are developing a sensibility for what luxury eyewear is.”
The deal for Barton Perreira highlights the growing importance of eyewear for LVMH and the luxury industry. LVMH launched Thelios in 2017 to produce eyewear for LVMH’s in-house brands, including Louis Vuitton, Celine, Loewe and Berluti. Zanardo said that as Thelios developed its own design, manufacturing and distribution expertise, it decided to acquire outside brands that it could further develop, starting with Vuarnet.
Barton Perreira has a cult-like following among Hollywood stars and collectors of high-end sunglasses and frames. Its models typically retail for $500 or $600, and its limited edition designs, made in small quantities, are especially coveted. Daniel Craig wore a pair of Barton Perreira “Joe” sunglasses in “No Time to Die,” and Demi Lovato, Sandra Bullock and Ryan Gosling are also reported to be fans.
Zanardo said Barton Perreira was an ideal fit for LVMH because of its commitment to quality.
“Barton Perreira has a very strong founding principle, which is design and quality without compromise,” he said.
Since Barton Perriera only has a handful of stores in the U.S., LVMH can use its global reach to take the brand overseas, with better distribution in Europe and Asia, Zanardo said.
Barton Perreira was founded in 2007 by Bill Barton and Patty Perreira, after they left Oliver Peoples when it was acquired by Oakley. Zanardo said the two founders will stay at the company after the acquisition and “make sure the DNA of the brand remains in tact.”
LVMH’s acquisition shows that despite a global slowdown in the luxury business, the company is seeking acquisition targets that fit its long-term ambitions. LVMH’s stock price is down 20% over the past six months as its growth slows, especially in the U.S. wine and spirits market. LVMH executives often say downturns offer an opportunity to gain market share and make acquisitions, as competitors cut spending and valuations become more attractive.
For now, Thelios said it will focus more on integrating Vuarnet, Barton Perreira and a recently acquired manufacturing facility in Italy, rather than making more deals.
“This year has been very intense for us,” Zanardo said. “I think this is a moment for us to focus on what we have added to our organization, and start the path together.”
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