Luxottica and Mazzucchelli: partnership sustainability benefits and supply chain considerations

Independent manufacturers have recognised the benefits of the deal for the production of sustainable materials, but some also identified concerns

Luxottica frame

Eyewear company, Luxottica, and acetate manufacturer Mazzucchelli, have formed a collaboration to work on a new sustainable acetate which will be made accessible to all market players. Through the agreement, Luxottica will take on a minority stake of 35% of the share capital of Mazzucchelli to further finance the development of the project.

Reacting to the news, independent manufacturers have noted the sustainability benefits that could come from such an agreement, but also highlighted potential areas of concern.

Luxottica and Mazzucchelli suggested the deal would feed into their own environmental commitments, as well as increase the offer of “high quality and sustainable eyewear.”

The companies also emphasised that the agreement is financial only, adding that it “does not entail any shareholder agreement to be signed for the appointment of any director designed by Luxottica in Mazzucchelli. The founder’s family; Orsi Mazzucchelli, will continue to manage the company.”

To consider the potential outcomes from this partnership, OT reached out to independent frame manufacturers in the UK for their thoughts.

Tom Davies, founder of the British eyewear company of the same name, noted that as both companies have manufacturing operations in Italy and China, “there is a perfect synergy.”

Reflecting on this, he added: “Supply chain issues are not going to go away anytime soon as there are still significant difficulties around raw material supply which has and is hurting many brands in eyewear since the pandemic started.”

Considering the development of a new sustainable acetate, Davies called it an “exciting” prospect and noted: “In my own small way, I’m doing a mini version in London with my Acetate Kitchen but a giant like Luxottica needs to work with the biggest acetate supplier in the world.”

James Conway, CEO of Millmead Optical Group, also saw a value for improving the sustainability of the industry, sharing: “Anything that improves the negative environmental impact of products we use in the industry has got to be celebrated.

“If this does lead to more innovative acetates that are more environmentally friendly, that's a fantastic thing.”

With Luxottica already one of the largest customers of Mazzucchelli in the past, Conway suggested this was an unsurprising and strategic step for the companies.

“It does tie back into the stepping-stone control structure of the EssilorLuxottica Group,” he observed. “This is a kind of vertical integration of the supply chain. Luxottica will be the biggest user of Mazzucchelli acetate, so it makes sense for them to get involved with that product.”

Conway did note some concerns over what the agreement could lead to in the future, and questioned whether it might lead to a prioritisation of Luxottica as a customer over other manufacturers, or perhaps limited choice.

While the initial impact might be small, he questioned whether there will be a larger impact in time, regarding the new agreement as “part of the bigger jigsaw for EssilorLuxottica.” With the GrandVision acquisition recently cleared by competition authorities, Conway suggested the broader market could see changes in the supply chain in the future.

He shared that his concerns may make him “think twice” about where he sources materials going forwards: “Because we can’t really be seen to be supporting one of our competitors. And theoretically, I would be presenting independent practices with a product that is made by one of their competitors.”

Looking ahead, he suggested this could be an “ongoing problem that will only get bigger – of Luxottica and Essilor being suppliers and competitors at the same time.”

Practices are becoming increasingly aware of the impact to the broader market, Conway suggested, adding: “We are already noticing independent opticians saying enough is enough and voting with their feet.”

“We will have to see what the future holds, but I don’t see the EssilorLuxottica machine slowing down,” he shared.

Millmead Optical is already exploring sustainability, with the development of new patents underway and new products in the pipeline, and regardless of his concerns, Conway emphasised: “If they do innovate acetates that are far more sustainable, that’s got to be a good thing.”