Luxottica is a mega-corporation that controls 80% of all eyewear brands. Is this a monopoly?
The societies that subscribe to some form of capitalism like to believe there is free and fair competition in their economy. And largely this is true. Companies compete for consumer wallet contents by trying to out market and out design their competition.
Take Ray-Ban for instance. They have always been the stalwart in the fashion sunglasses market, until they were challenged by the likes of Oakley and Arnette.
Then we have Bvlgari, a truly premium fashion brand of eyewear for the well heeled. They are also challenged daily by the likes of Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren and Versace.
And we could go on with brands such as DKNY, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada etc. It's nice to know that there are lots of different companies all fighting it out for our hard earned cash, and may the best brand win.
Or is this really the case?
In actual fact, all the brands mentioned above, and a whole lot more, are managed by one company, the Italian based mega-corporation, Luxottica. The company is the largest eyewear producer in the world and controls over 80% of all eyewear brands.
The company, started in 1961 by Leonardo Del Vecchio, actually has two modes of operation. It has a number of "house brands" such as Oakley and Ray-Ban, but then also manufacturers eyewear under licence for most leading fashion houses.
They have recently come under fire for artificially keeping product prices high, something they can easily do considering their stranglehold on the market.
So much for free and fair competition then.