Julbo, a French sports eyewear company that is investing heavily in trail running, started a partnership to serve several countries in the Arabian Peninsula this past summer with EGMA Optical Supplies, a distributor who has worked with Rodenstock for many years, and it is now targeting the Asian markets. EGMA has a laboratory where it can make corrective lenses for Julbo's sunglasses, similar to the sophisticated Portuguese lab that Julbo has been using for its European clients.

The French company wants to return to the 50-50 split of ten years ago between its domestic and foreign sales. Last year, it raised its sales by 12 percent to €28 million, with the French market representing 60 percent of the total. Sales in France rose by more than 13 percent because of strong growth in sales of goggles and helmets to sports retailers, while sales in foreign countries increased by between 9 and 10 percent.

In another move overseas, Julbo is developing new products with an Asian fit and for the first time, is going to be at the Hong Kong Optical Fair on Nov. 5-7. Three years ago Julbo set up an office for Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand in Singapore, headed up by Claude Adam, who has been working for Julbo in marketing for a long time. Central and Northern Asia are directly covered for the time being by an area manager, Julien Salabay, at the French head office.

At the Silmo eyewear fair in Paris late last month, Julbo presented ten new sunglass models; a new collection of optical frames for babies, kids and adults; and an updated sun RX program.

It also showed a new highly-ventilated sunglass for runners, the Venturi, which was nominated for a major award at the fair. It was tested in extreme conditions by some of the 7,500 trail runners who participated in The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB), the annual race that took place in and around Chamonix on Aug. 25-31.

Julbo acted for the ninth year in a row as an official supplier of the UTMB, with two booths at the event. It also sponsored a dozen athletes at the event. At one of the booths, Julbo invited amateurs to apply to join two of its top athletes, Julien Chorier of France and Jason Schlarb of the U.S., for the Julbo Trail Session in Hawaii,. It will be a coast-to-coast race through the highest volcanos. The winner was an American who was selected on the basis of video interviews.