Essilor International S.A. is a French company that produces
ophthalmic lenses along with ophthalmic optical equipment. It is based
Charenton-le-Pont (near Paris), France, and quoted on the Euronext
Paris Stock Exchange. It is a component of the
Euro Stoxx 50 share
Essilor is responsible for creating Varilux, the world's first
progressive lens which corrects presbyopia and allows clear vision in
the wearer's near, intermediate and far vision. The company formed
from the merger of ophthalmic firms Essel and Silor in 1972.
Essilor now operates in over 100 countries over five continents. Its
activities are largely focused on research and development. It is the
world's largest manufacturer of ophthalmic lenses.
In January 2017 it announced a merger with
Luxottica to be completed
by the end of 2017, resulting in combined market capitalization of
appropriately €46 billion.
1.1 1849–1972: Essel and Silor
1.2 1972–1979: Beginning of Essilor
1.3 1980–1989: International growth
1.4 1990–1999: Partnerships and
2 Research and development
2.1 Institut de la Vision
2.2 Vision Impact Institute
2.3 Dioptric loop method
2.5 Virtual reality
2.6 Sun protection factor e-SPF
Essilor Co. Ltd.
3 Corporate Social Responsibility
4 Corporate affairs
4.1 Board of directors
4.2 Management committee
5 See also
7 External links
1849–1972: Essel and Silor
Essel (Société de Lunettiers) was founded in 1849 (then-called
L’Association Fraternelle des Ouvriers Lunetiers) as a small network
of eyeglass assembly workshops in Paris. It quickly expanded in the
late 19th and early 20th century through the acquisition of factories
in nearby Parisian neighbourhoods and in Eastern France. Essel soon
added frame design and trade to its activities. The firm launched a
frame design in 1955 called Nylor which is still used today. The Nylor
system introduced a thin nylon thread which embraces the lens and is
fixed to the frame’s higher branch. Essel's breakthrough came in
1959 with the invention of Varilux, the first ophthalmic progressive
Original Lissac store in Paris
Silor (Société Industrielle de Lunetterie et d'Optique
Rationnelle)first started under the name Lissac in 1931 as a retailer
of ophthalmic lenses and frames before becoming a lens manufacturer.
In 1959, the same year Essel invented the progressive lens, Lissac
made a discovery of its own: the Orma 1000 lens, made from a
lightweight material.
1972–1979: Beginning of Essilor
After many years as rivals, Essel and Silor merged on 1 January 1972
to form Essilor, the then third-largest ophthalmic optical firm in the
Essilor’s first year of existence was marked by two events: the
creation of Valoptec, a non-trading company composed of stock-holder
managers which held half of the company’s capital stock, and the
purchase of Benoist-Bethiot, a French lens manufacturer specializing
in the production of progressive lenses.
In the mid 1970s,
Essilor focused on becoming a true optical group
specializing in the plastic progressive lens. Many subsidiary
activities are first sold off, but in 1974,
Benoist-Bethiot with Guilbert-Routit, creating a subsidiary called
BBGR. In 1975, the company was listed on the stock exchange. The
innovations by Essel and Silor, Essilor’s predecessors, lead to the
launch of the
Varilux Orma in 1976 .
The late 1970s were marked by Essilor’s change in strategy of
geographical expansion. By making the acquisition of manufacturing
plants in the United States, in
Ireland and in the Philippines,
Essilor began its transformation from being a mainly exporting company
to being an international company.
1980–1989: International growth
The 1980s began with intensified competition. To cut costs and improve
Essilor purchased four new plants in four years, in Mexico,
Brazil and Thailand. In France, new instruments
facilitated the automation of the manufacturing process. Many
distributors were acquired or merged with
Essilor in Europe (Norway,
Portugal) and in
Asia (Burma, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore,
Taiwan and Vietnam).
In the United States, all subsidiaries were brought together under the
Essilor of America umbrella. This global network allowed
launch a new
Varilux lens called the VMD in Europe and the United
1990–1999: Partnerships and
To maintain its position as a world leader,
Essilor gradually withdrew
its frames operations to concentrate on corrective lenses. Employing a
value added strategy, the company launched the
offering lens resistance against scratches, reflections and smudges.
Essilor also formed a partnership with PPG, an American company, to
offer the Transitions photochromic lens, a technology that allows a
lens to become darker or lighter depending on the intensity of ambient
light. Through the acquisition of Gentex,
Essilor was also able to
launch the Airwear polycarbonate lens, a light and unbreakable lens
material. Finally, the fourth generation of the
Varilux was launched
under the name
Varilux Comfort.
At the beginning of the 21st century,
Essilor launched the Varilux
Physio, a lens that derives its performance from the Twin RX
Technology which combines the wavefront management system to calculate
lens optics, along with a production technique called advanced digital
surfacing. Finally, in 2005,
Essilor entered the
CAC 40 stock market.
Essilor launched the
Essilor Vision Foundation in the USA.
This organization was created in order to run vision tests in schools
to detect vision problems. The follow-up care and glasses are provided
Essilor Vision Foundation for children in need.
Essilor buys Satisloh in 2008. The acquisition of the Swiss company
aimed at offering a wider range of products for the consumer.
Two years later,
Essilor launched a merger with Shamir Optical
Essilor acquired 50% of the kibbutz-based company. Shamir
Optical Industry took advantage of Essilor's worldwide distribution
network, and developed its activity by launching new products.
Essilor acquired FGX International, an American company whose
brands include Foster Grant.
Essilor acquired 50% of the Chinese company Wanxin
Optical in 2011.
The growth drivers for the Chinese market are the aging population and
the increase of reimbursement for eye care.
The 40th anniversary of the merger between Essel and Silor took place
in July 2012. This was the occasion to highlight their contributions
and improvements on technologies.
In September 2012,
Essilor involved in the
Special Olympics for 10
more years. The ophtalmic lenses supplier provided almost 100,000 free
eyeglasses to the athletes since 2002.
In May 2013, Safilo and
Essilor agreed on a 10-year licensing deal
Essilor to use Safilo's Polaroid brand for the making of
polarized eye lenses.
In July 2013,
Essilor announced the buying of 51% of Transitions
Optical's stakes from PPG Industries.
Essilor will then hold 100%
of Transitions Optical. The deal is to be closed in the first semester
of 2014. The transaction aims at developing Essilor's leadership
in lenses that adapt to changing light.
In March 2014,
Essilor announced the acquisition of the Canadian
online distributor Coastal.com, which rebranded as
Clearly.ca in 2015.
Essilor aims at reinforcing its presence online, adding Coastal.com to
its online subsidiaries such as MyOnlineOptical, FramesDirect and
On 25 November 2014,
Essilor won 4 awards at the First Edition of the
Vision-X VP Awards. Essilor’s
Varilux S Series won the award for
Most Popular Lens (Progressive), while the Transitions Signature VII
won the Most Popular Lens (Best Value) award. Its
Crizal Forte UV and
Mr Blue were voted the Most Popular Lens Coating/Value Add and Best
Value Enhancer (Lab).
In 2015, the U.S. subsidiary of
Essilor International acquired Vision
Source, a service network of independent optometrists, from Brazos
Equity Partners LLC for an undisclosed amount.
By the 19 March 2016 the company had a share value of 23,564 million
euros, distributed in 216,477,934 shares.
In March 2016 the company bought the UK online contacts retailer
VisionDirect UK, adding to many online eyewear brands
In January 2017, the company agreed to merge with
Luxottica for €46
billion. Euromonitor International estimates that
Luxottica's market share is 14% worldwide, and the second-largest
company in the industry, Essilor, has a 13% market share. The
third-largest player is Johnson & Johnson, with a 3.9% market
Luxottica and Esslisor are currently (end of 2017)
in the process of merging, subject to regulatory permission and
possibly competition conditions.
Luxottica has faced allegations that it uses its market dominance to
inflate prices and restrict competition (see also
Research and development
Essilor’s research and development team includes 550 researchers in
its three Innovation and Technology Centers in France, the United
States and Asia. In Singapore, the Centre for
Innovation and Technology and the International Vision Academy are
housed in a new facility, called Kallang Bahru.
Essilor was ranked 49th on
Forbes listing of most innovative
companies in the world. The brand is the 4th French company of the
Institut de la Vision
Essilor participate in the Institut de la Vision de Paris, inaugurated
in December 2008. This institute is a research center on ocular
pathologies. The development of technologies improving the life of
visually impaired people is the main goal of this partnership.
Vision Impact Institute
In March 2013 was launched the Vision Impact Institute, endorsed by
Essilor. People from
Boston Consulting Group
Boston Consulting Group take part in
this project. This institute aims at collecting data about
impaired vision and its socio-economic impact. One of the first
research results available on the website of the institute
demonstrated impaired vision caused a loss of US$269 billion in
productivity each year in the world.
In collaboration with
Singapore Indian Development Association,
Essilor launched in May 2014 Vision Foundation, in order to provide
eye exams for children belonging to low-income families.
Dioptric loop method
With the launch of '
Varilux Comfort in 1993,
Essilor developed the
dioptic loop method, making it possible to gauge wearer satisfaction.
It involves using repetition until an effective result is achieved for
the wearer. It comprises five stages:
Collection of the wearer’s physiological data
Creation of prototype lenses
Essilor launched a research in partnership with the Institut de la
France in order to determine the wavelength of the light,
emitted by the sun, LEDs, computers or smartphones, which leads to
degeneration of retina cells, and age-related macular
degeneration. This preventive lens was launched in 2013.
Essilor's research department particularly concentrates on the
combined progress of two complementary disciplines: optics and
physiology, with particular recourse to virtual reality. A simulation
tool that makes it possible to perceive and interact in 3D in a
multi-sensory way. 
Researchers today use a virtual visualization system, equipped with
algorithms and modeling developed by
Essilor to explore new optical
solutions that can be tested directly on wearers. This simulator makes
it possible to vary the optical properties of the lenses tested, study
optical effects and immediately gauge wearer satisfaction. In order to
do so, a magnetic sensor records a subject's head movements and images
that show the eyes' exact viewpoint 120 times per second. After
testing, the results are used to fine-tune the performance of the
lenses in question. In 2008, the
Varilux Ipseo New Edition was
designed using Essilor's Virtual Reality system.
Sun protection factor e-SPF
Essilor’s eye sun protection factor (e-SPF) was launched in 2012.
The factor, inspired by sunscreen rates, is a new system to help the
consumer find the best global eye protection. Moreover, the e-SPF
takes into account UV rays reflecting off the back of the lens into
the eye. Therefore, treated lenses block the UV, responsible for
eye damages, such as cataracts and DMLA. These treated lenses are
retailed globally under the
Crizal UV brand.
Essilor Co. Ltd.
Nikon have signed a Memorandum of understanding
to form a global strategic alliance in corrective lenses by forming a
50 / 50 joint venture in
Japan to be called Nikon-
Essilor Co. Ltd.
The main purpose of the joint venture is to further strengthen the
corrective lens business of both companies. This will be achieved
through the integrated strengths of Nikon's strong brand backed up by
advanced optical technology and strong sales network in Japanese
market, coupled with the high productivity and worldwide marketing and
sales network of Essilor, the world leader in this industry.
Essilor Co. Ltd. started its business in January 2000,
responsible for research, development, production and sales mainly for
In June 2014, Bernard Maitenaz, Essilor’s former CEO, received the
Apollo Award from the American Optometric Association. This prize
rewards people who acted in favor of visual health. He received this
distinction for having invented, in 1959, the
After the launch of an Optifog cloth in January 2014, a new
generation of Optifog lenses was launched in July 2014. These lenses
contain fog repellent properties, making the use of a special liquid
Corporate Social Responsibility
The Ethiopian programme Vision Aid Overseas received the support of
Essilor in order to increase the number of optometrists and healthcare
professionals. This initiative will also develop eye exams for
During the World Sight Day 2014,
Essilor India organised Walkathon or
‘Walk for Vision’ in 35 locations across 16 cities to raise
awareness among people regarding eye health.
Board of directors
As of 2017, the firm's board of directors consists of:
Chairman of the Board and CEO
Philippe Alfroid, Former Chief Operating Officer
Antoine Bernard de Saint-Affrique, Chief Executive Officer of Barry
Maureen Cavanagh, Vice-President Retail,
Essilor of America; Director
representing employee shareholders
Juliette Favre, Head of Lab 4.0 program of Essilor's equipment
division (Satisloh); President of Valoptec Association; Director
representing employee shareholders
Henrietta H. Fore,
Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of
Holsman International (USA)
Louise Fréchette, Member of the Board of the Global Leadership
He Yi, President of
Essilor (China); Holding Company; Director
representing employee shareholders
Franck Henrionnet, European Service Center Manager in the Instruments
Division of “La Compasserie” (Meuse – France) at Essilor;
Director representing employees
Bernard Hours, former Chief Operating Officer of Groupe Danone
Annette Messemer, Divisional Board Member, Corporate Clients,
Commerzbank AG (Germany)
Marc Onetto, Former Senior Vice-President Worldwide Operations and
Customer Service at Amazon
Olivier Pécoux, Chief Executive Officer of Rothschild & Cie
Laurent Vacherot, President and Chief Operating Officer of Essilor
Jeanette Wong, DBS Group (Singapore) Executive
As of 2017:
Hubert Sagnières -
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Laurent Vacherot - President and Chief Operating Officer
Jayanth Bhuvaraghan - Chief Mission Officer
Jean Carrier-Guillomet - Chief Operating Officer
Frédéric Mathieu - Corporate Senior Vice President Human Resources
Bernhard Nuesser - President, Online
Hilary Halper - Chief Financial Officer
Paul du Saillant - Chief Operating Officer
Jeremy Teo - Chief Strategy Officer
Eric Thoreux - President, Sun, Readers and China
Based on its 2016 Registration Document, 87% of Essilor's turnover
comes from the sale of ophthalmic lenses and optical instruments, 10%
is driven by sunglasses and readers and 3% from other activities, such
as equipment sales.
28% of its sales are based in Europe, 47% in North America, 7% in
Latin America with the remaining 18% based out of Asia, Pacific,
Middle East and Africa.
Numbers in millions of Euros
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^ "Executive committee".
^ a b
Euro Stoxx 50 companies of the Euro Area
Last updated October 2015
Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria
ING Group NV
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