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Drugstore.com inks deal with Luxottica

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BELLEVUE, Wash. — Drugstore.com has formed a multiyear partnership with optical store chain operator Luxottica Group SpA to expand online access to contact lenses in North America.

Under the deal drugstore.com subsidiary Vision Direct Inc. (visiondirect.com) will collaborate with Luxottica to develop branded contact lens e-commerce sites for the latter’s North American business and provide customer care and fulfillment services. The alliance will enable Luxottica, starting with its retail brands, to let consumers purchase contact lenses in person, by phone or online.

In addition, the two companies will pursue synergies and plan to cooperate in a number of other related areas, including Luxottica’s North America-based wholesale business.

“We are very pleased to be able to utilize drugstore.com’s e-commerce platform and our strengths in online technology, marketing, customer care and fulfillment on Luxottica’s behalf,” comments drugstore.com chairman and chief executive officer Dawn Lepore. “This alliance represents an unparalleled opportunity to extend our partnership strategy — a key growth driver for the future — to our vision business.”

For his part, Luxottica executive vice president of business development Valerio Giacobbi says the agreement is a key step in Luxottica’s goal to increase consumers’ awareness of contact lenses as an important vision care option.

As of September 30 Luxottica operated 2,939 optical stores across North America, including LensCrafters and Pearle Vision. The new e-commerce services are expected to launch in mid-2010.

In connection with entering into the alliance, drugstore.com will incur a onetime advisory fee, which will be reflected in its fourth quarter earnings.


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