Update: Many changes coming to Smith Optics
Update 9:40 a.m.: We listened to a conference call with Safilo Group CEO Luisa Delgado and have some more details about the changes coming to Smith Optics.
* Safilo is aiming to double Smith’s business in five years, and to accomplish this, it is integrating Smith into the Safilo structure rather than having it run as a stand-alone business.
* Safilo conducted an in-depth analysis to see if should keep Smith in its portfolio and concluded it had an important strategic role in the company, especially as the outdoor lifestyle continues to be a consumer segment that is growing.
* The new global brand leader for Smith will be Thorsten Brandt, who spent the past year in Ketchum, Idaho. He will be based in Italy and work alongside the leaders of other Safilo brands there. Brandt is also the Global Marketing Director for Safilo. There will no longer be a Smith company President, and current President Ned Post is retiring at the end of this year.
* VP of Product and Design Eric Carlson will lead the new design center in Portland, and will report to Brandt. Portland was chosen as the city for the design center because it is a hub for the outdoor lifestyle; it will be easier to attract talent to Portland compared to more isolated Ketchum; and Portland is easier to travel to.
* The hope is to eventually either start or add other outdoor lifestyle brands to the Safilo portfolio that can be designed out of the Portland hub.
* The first wave of Smith employees is expected to move to Portland around Easter and the second wave is expected to move sometime in the summer. Safilo has not secured a location yet for the design center.
* Safilo CEO Delgado said the company plans to maintain the heritage and authenticity of Smith while turning it into a truly global brand. Smith and the Carrera brand, which is owned by Safilo and also makes goggles and helmets in addition to sunglasses, will be working more closely together.
Smith Optics is undergoing several changes in a restructuring led by Italian parent company Safilo Group.
Smith will be moving from Ketchum, Idaho, its home for 50 years, to three locations in the U.S., according to a story in the Idaho Mountain Express.
President Ned Post is also retiring as of Dec. 31.
Smith will open a design center in Portland, Oregon, and 35 employees will transfer there beginning in the first half of 2015, the paper said. Smith design, product development, marketing, artwork, and e-commerce activities will now work out of Portland.
Safilo said the design center in the future will also be responsible for creating and developing potential and future brands and products in the sports and outdoor space.
Smith’s manufacturing and distribution location in Clearfield, Utah will become the hub for goggle manufacturing for all Safilo sports brands. About 20 positions will be transferred there from Ketchum, the paper said.
Backend functions like HR, IT and Finance will move to Safilo U.S. headquarters in New Jersey.
The global leadership of the Smith business will be headquartered in Italy.
We have messages into the Smith leadership to find out more about the changes.