MILAN—ANFAO, the Italian Association of Eyewear Manufacturers of Confindustria
was cautiously optimistic in its assessment of the optical industry’s performance in the first half of 2017. In its mid-year report, the organization observed that “in general, the economy is continuing to expand and its pace is the strongest since the start of the [financial] crisis; the dynamic of the Euro area is also strong.”
However, ANFAO noted that there are still risks and doubts as to the solidity of the recovery: political uncertainty, terrorism, Brexit, monetary policies that are becoming restrictive. “Italy appears to have grasped hold of the recovery, but it is still crucial for investments and labor policies to be strengthened, as low employment and youth emigration reduce the potential for growth,” the organization asserted.
According to ANFAO, the period from January to June 2017 has experienced growth in the value of overall exports of Italian eyewear, which rose 3.6 percent on an annual basis. The increase in value was 4.3 percent for frames and 3.2 percent for sunglasses, ANFAO said.
“The first half-year's figures support what we expected: paradoxically, in a general economic period that definitely seems to have overcome the crisis, the eyewear industry is enjoying less growth than other sectors,” noted ANFAO president Giovanni Vitaloni. “Actually, this can be explained by the fact that we reacted earlier and more successfully to the crisis. We have positive years behind us, with truly significant export growth rates (double-digit), which are now clearly more difficult to sustain.”
Industry exports in the first half-year of 2017 have performed well in both America as a whole (+8.8 percent) and in Europe (+4.2 percent). A negative result was recorded, on the other hand, in Asia where exports in value marked a decrease of 5.7 percent on an annual basis.
In the U.S., which has about a 25 percent share of the market, Italian eyewear exports, overall exports of sunglasses and prescription glasses marked an increase of +7.1 percent compared to the period January to June 2016. Frames did better (+18.6 percent) than exports of sunglasses (+3.2 percent).
In Europe, overall eyewear exports in the first half-year were stuck at the starting line in France (-0.5 percent) and dropped in the U.K. (-4.5 percent), according to ANFAO.