Leonardo Del Vecchio (born 22 May 1935 in Milan, Italy) is the founder and chairman of Luxottica, a $3 billion (sales) designer and manufacturer of high-quality eyeglass frames. The firm owns the Sunglass Hut and Lenscrafters chains with a total of over 6000 stores. According to Forbes magazine, he is the second richest man in Italy (after Michele Ferrero) with a net worth of US$11 billion dollars, making him 71st in the world rankings as of March 2011.
He was born in Milan, Italy in 1935 as a child of an impoverished family. His father died five months prior to his birth. He was given to an orphanage by his mother due to the reason that his mother was unable to support him financially. He began his career as the apprentice to a tool and dye maker in Milan, but decided to turn his metalworking skills to make spectacle parts. So in 1961 he moved to Agordo in the province of Belluno, which is home to most of the Italian eyewear industry. The new company was Luxottica s.a.s., a limited partnership. In 1967 he started selling complete eyeglass frames under the Luxottica brand, which proved successful enough that by 1971 he ended the contract manufacturing business.
Convinced of the need for vertical integration, in 1974 he acquired Scarrone, a distribution company. In 1981 the company set up its first international subsidiary, in Germany, the first in a rapid period of international expansion. The first of many licensing deals with a designer was struck with Armani, in 1988.
The company listed in New York in 1990, and in Milan in December 2000, joining the MIB-30 (now S&P/MIB) index in September 2003. The listing enhanced the company’s ability to acquire other brands, starting with Italian brand Vogue in 1990, Persol and US Shoe Corporation (LensCrafters) in 1995, Ray-Ban in 1999 and Sunglass Hut, Inc. in 2001. They went looking for more retail companies, acquiring Sydney-based OPSM in 2003, Pearle Vision in 2004, Surfeyes in 2006, and Cole National in 2004. Most recently, they acquired Oakley in a US$2.1bn deal in November 2007.
From : www.wikipedia.org