Essilor International S.A.
Société Anonyme
Traded as Euronext: EI
Industry Medical equipment
Founded 1849 (1849)
Headquarters Charenton-le-Pont, France
Key people
Hubert Sagnières (CEO)
Products Corrective lenses and ophthalmic equipment
Revenue Increase€6.72 billion (2015)[1]
Increase€1183 million (2015)
Profit Increase€757 million (2014)
Total assets €6.907 billion (end 2012)
Total equity €3.921 billion (end 2012)
Number of employees
61,000 (end 2015)

Essilor International S.A. is a French company that produces ophthalmic lenses along with ophthalmic optical equipment. It is based in Charenton-le-Pont (near Paris), France, and quoted on the Euronext Paris Stock Exchange. It is a component of the Euro Stoxx 50 share index.

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.[2]


1849–1972: Essel and Silor

Essel 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 lens.

Silor 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 world.

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, Essilor fused 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 service, Essilor purchased four new plants in four years, in Mexico, Puerto Rico, 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 Essilor to launch a new Varilux lens called the VMD in Europe and the United States.

1990–1999: Partnerships and Varilux Comfort

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 Crizal coating, 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 French CAC 40 stock market.

In 2007 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 by Essilor Vision Foundation for children in need.[4]

Essilor buys Satisloh in 2008. The acquisition of the Swiss company aimed at offering a wider range of products for the consumer.[5]

Two years later, Essilor launched a merger with Shamir Optical Industry. 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.[6]

In 2010 Essilor acquired FGX International, an American company whose brands include Foster Grant.[7]


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.[8]

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.[9]

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.[10]

In May 2013, Safilo and Essilor agreed on a 10-year licensing deal allowing Essilor to use Safilo's Polaroid brand for the making of polarized eye lenses.[11]

In July 2013, Essilor announced the buying of 51% of Transitions Optical's stakes from PPG Industries.[12] Essilor will then hold 100% of Transitions Optical. The deal is to be closed in the first semester of 2014.[13] The transaction aims at developing Essilor's leadership in lenses that adapt to changing light.[14]

In March 2014, Essilor announced the acquisition of the Canadian online distributor Essilor aims at reinforcing its presence online, adding to its online subsidiaries such as MyOnlineOptical, FramesDirect and EyeBuyDirect.[15]

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).[15]

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.[16]

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 Essilor already owns. [17]

Research and development[18]

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.[19]

In 2014, Essilor was ranked 49th on Forbes listing of most innovative companies in the world. The brand is the 4th French company of the ranking.[20]

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.[21]

Vision Impact Institute

In March 2013 was launched the Vision Impact Institute, endorsed by Essilor. People from Essilor and Boston Consulting Group take part in this project.[22] 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.[23]

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.[24]

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:[25]

Crizal Prevencia

Essilor launched a research in partnership with the Institut de la Vision in 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 degenaration[26] This preventive lens was launched in 2013.

Virtual reality

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. [27]

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.[28] Therefore, treated lenses block the UV, responsible for eye damages, such as cataracts and DMLA.[29] These treated lenses are retailed globally under the Crizal UV brand.[30]

Nikon-Essilor Co. Ltd.

In 1999, Essilor and 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.[31]

Nikon-Essilor Co. Ltd. started its business in January 2000, responsible for research, development, production and sales mainly for ophthalmic optics.[32]


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 Varilux progressive lenses.[33]


After the launch of an Optifog cloth in January 2014,[34] a new generation of Optifog lenses was launched in July 2014. These lenses contain fog repellent properties, making the use of a special liquid unnecessary.[35]

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 children.[36]

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.[37]

Corporate affairs

Board of directors

As of 2015, the firm's board of directors consists of:[38]

Executive committee

As of 2015:[39]


Based on its 2015 Registration Document, 87% of Essilor's turnover comes from the sale of ophthalmic lenses, 10% is driven by sunglasses and reader and 3% other activities, such as equipment sales.[40]

28% of its sales are based in Europe, 48% in North America, 6% in Latin America with the remaining 18% based out of Asia-Oceania and Middle East-Africa.[40]

Numbers in millions of Euros
Year 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Revenue 2,203 2,424 2,690 2,908.1 3,074.4 3,268.0 3,891.6 4,190 4,989 5,065 5,670 6,716
Net income 244 287 328 366.7 382.4 394.0 462.0 506 584 594 642 757

See also


  1. Torsoli, Albertina (17 July 2008). "Essilor Slumps as Second-Quarter Sales Miss Estimates". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2009-04-06.
  2. Malaval, Catherine. "Essilor 1972-1997: Mieux Voir Le Monde". Creapress Editions, 1997.
  3. "Kids get free glasses". Vision care venture. May 2009.
  4. "Essilor buys Satisloh". optician online. 20 June 2008.
  5. "Essilor to acquire half of Shamir Optical for $130 million". haaretz. 18 October 2010.
  6. "Foster Grant brand owner FGX International acquires Stylemark". the moodie report. 6 January 2012.
  7. "Essilor in joint venture with Wanxin Optical in China". companies and markets.
  8. "Essilor Celebrates 40 Years". mivision. 26 March 2012.
  9. "Essilor Renews Special Olympics Partnership for 10 More Years". vision monday. 26 September 2012.
  10. "Safilo, Essilor in 10-year licensing deal". 21 May 2013.
  11. "Essilor buys majority stake in Transitions Optical for $1.73bn". Financial 29 July 2013.
  12. "Essilor buys majority stake in Transitions Optical". optometry times. 31 July 2013.
  13. "Essilor to Buy PPG's Lens-Venture Stake for $1.73 Billion". Bloomberg. 29 July 2013.
  14. 1 2 "Essilor expands online with deal". 6 March 2014.
  15. Furr, Laura (4 August 2015). "Vision Source optometry group to be purchased by French manufacturer". Houston Business Journal. The Business Journals. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  16. "Essilor buys Vision Direct UK, strengthens Online Business Portfolio". 6 March 2016.
  18. "Essilor opens new facility in Singapore". Channelnewsasia. 18 Sep 2014.
  19. "Essilor makes Forbes listing". 10 Sep 2014.
  20. "Institut De La Vision Paris: - The Gateway to European Vision Research".
  21. Bradt, George (4 March 2013). "Leading with a Clear Vision". Forbes. Retrieved 2013-03-04.
  22. Whittle, Thomas (19 March 2013). "Impaired vision costs 269 bln USD annually: study". NZWeek. Retrieved 2013-04-24.
  23. "French lens-maker Essilor launches Vision Foundation in S'pore". 20 May 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-01.
  24. Kamen, Paddy. "Innovation Extraordinaire is Essilor". Vision Magazine. March–April 2004. July 1, 2009.
  25. "Essilor announces launch of selective blue light blocking lenses". 21 March 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-24.
  27. What is the best sunglasses lens in the world? Check the ESPF: eye-sun protection factor , See for Life, April 28, 2013
  28. "LAB TALK May/June 2012 Page-31".
  29. Crizal UV Product Function Summary Page
  30. "Nikon - News - Nikon, Japan and Essilor, France agree to establish a joint company".
  31. "ニコン・エシロール|ホーム".
  32. "For the First Time in Philadelphia, Optometry's Meeting Features a Packed Schedule of Events This Week". 27 June 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-01.
  33. "Essilor International SA launches Optifog Smart Textile". 19 January 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-01.
  34. McCarthy, Colleen (16 June 2014). "Essilor partners with VAO on three-year programme". Retrieved 2014-09-01.
  35. "Essilor introduces new generation of Optifog lenses". 3 July 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-01.
  36. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  37. "Board of directors".
  38. "Executive committee".
  39. 1 2

External links

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