Safilo has announced the completion of its acquisition of digitally-native Californian brand Blenders Eyewear, the next step forward in the Italian company’s digital transformation strategy.
First announced in December of last year, the transaction sees Safilo acquire a majority stake of 70% in Blenders for $63.9 million (57.5 million euros), a deal financed by a 90 million-euro loan from Multibrands Italy B.V., Safilo’s reference shareholder.
Blenders were founded in San Diego, California, by surfer Chase Fisher in 2012. Fisher still holds the remaining 30% of the company and has stayed on as its CEO.
95% of the brand’s sales are generated through its propriety direct-to-consumer e-commerce platform, and the company has reportedly been profitable since its foundation, having skilfully targeted millennial and Gen-Z consumers through social media marketing efforts built around influencer collaborations.
In fiscal 2019, the company reported net sales of $40.7 million, increasing 38% compared to the previous year.
“The closing of the Blenders acquisition represents a big leap forward for us on the 360° digital transformation strategy we presented in December last year,” said Safilo CEO Angelo Trocchia in a statement, going on to highlight the acceleration of the strategy around three main points of focus: the development of B2B and CRM technologies, the strengthening of social marketing capabilities, and the improvement of direct-to-consumer distribution.
Trocchia further highlighted the difficulties being faced by businesses around the world due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, adding “I am firmly convinced that a focused execution of our strategies will put our company in a stronger position, better equipped to meet our challenges head-on and to be frontrunners in some of the new business opportunities that lie ahead.”
Safilo saw its sales slip 11.5% in constant currencies to 221.1 million euros in the first quarter as the economic impact of the coronavirus took its toll.
As a digitally-native company, Blenders has been in a somewhat privileged position during the health crisis, which has forced many retailers to temporarily shutter their brick-and-mortar locations in the U.S. and Europe.
“The global pandemic’s lockdowns that we have been all suffering have undoubtedly elevated the importance of e-commerce and digital channels, also pushing new consumers to shop online for the very first time,” said Fisher.
“We, at Blenders Eyewear, have seen and are experiencing this digital escalation. Our results were very solid in the first quarter of the year, with sales up more than 30 percent, and further accelerating in April and May," he concluded.