EssilorLuxottica aims recovery to pre-pandemic levels in 2021

FILE PHOTO: The Luxottica name is reflected in a pair of sunglasses in this photo illustration taken in Rome

(Reuters) - EssilorLuxottica is targeting a recovery in its business this year to levels seen before the COVID-19 crisis after the Oakley and Ray-Ban maker's fourth-quarter revenue showed further signs of improvement, it said on Friday.

The eyewear maker said positive momentum was already visible in the Asia-Pacific region and that it expected the roll-out of vaccines to start normalizing the business environment in the second quarter.

Its sales rose 1.7% in the fourth quarter at constant currencies to 4.11 billion euros ($4.92 billion), as a rebound in its prescription glasses business offset weak demand for sunglasses from customers staying at home due to the pandemic.

EssilorLuxottica said it expected that trend to continue this year, along with the rise in e-commerce sales.

Chairman and founder Leonardo Del Vecchio said in a statement that he planned to propose to the new board the confirmation of Francesco Milleri as the chief executive officer and Paul du Saillant as deputy CEO.

Milleri's appointment in December had been expected to be temporary until a shareholder meeting this year.

Adjusted operating profit in the second half of 2020 rose 2.3% at constant currencies to 1.25 billion euros.

EssilorLuxottica, which makes eyewear for luxury brands such as Chanel, Prada and Versace, also proposed a final dividend of 1.08 euros per share after resuming payouts in December.

The company, formed by a merger between French lens manufacturer Essilor and Italian spectacles maker Luxottica, said in November it had clawed back some lost sales in the third quarter following the easing of first-wave lockdowns.

(Reporting by Silvia Recchimuzzi in Gdansk; editing by Uttaresh.V and Aditya Soni)