Sunglasses and optical frames maker Swank International Manufacturing has secured orders amounting to HK$32 million - 50 per cent higher than its average over the past three years, says executive director Eddy Lau Tai-ming. He attributed the increase in orders on hand mainly to the low comparison base, saying business was being affected by the group's involvement in a financial restructuring. But the operation was back to normal, he said. The company, which had accumulated debts of about HK$1 billion in 1998, was taken over by Tomorrow International Holdings this year. Mr Lau said Swank had returned to the black early this year and expected its business to improve in the second half of the year, the industry's peak season. The improved performance would be thanks to the company scaling down its headcount by 33 per cent in Hong Kong which helped to save about HK$14 million in salary expenses a year. Although the United States market accounted for 51 per cent of Swank's revenue, he said the global economic downturn and the September 11 events had had little impact. . 'We did not see a drop in pricing . . . maybe optical frames are considered basic necessities,' he said. Swank was expanding its market to Australia to diversify its customer base, he said, adding that it had developed its own brands to establish a stronger presence on the mainland. The company employs more than 2,000 people at its two factories in Dongguan and Henggang. Last year, Swank produced seven million pairs of sunglasses and optical frames. 'It should be no problem for our production line to increase the capacity to 12 million pairs a year,' he said. Joseph Lau Chi-yuen, corporate finance division general manager of Tomorrow, said the firm had HK$400 million to finance further acquisitions of light industrial plants similar to Swank. Tomorrow, which has a core business manufacturing electronic timing and weather-monitoring devices, has a 58 per cent stake in Swank. Negotiations to buy a controlling stake in a pharmaceutical firm were under way, he said.