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Essilor International S.A. is a French-based international ophthalmic optics company that designs, manufactures and markets lenses to correct or protect eyesight. Its headquarters is based in Charenton-le-Pont (near Paris), France. Essilor is quoted on the Euronext Paris Stock Exchange. It is a component of the Euro Stoxx 50 share index.
|Traded as||Euronext: EI|
CAC 40 Component
|Hubert Sagnières (CEO)|
|Products||Corrective lenses; sun and readers eyeglasses; ophthalmic equipment and instruments|
|Revenue||€7.5 billion (2017)|
|€1230 million (2016)|
|€813 million (2016)|
Number of employees
|80,000 (end 2018)|
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. Its activities are largely focused on research and development. It is the world's largest manufacturer of ophthalmic lenses.
In January 2017 Essilor announced a combination with Italian eyewear giant Luxottica. On 1 October 2018, the new holding company EssilorLuxottica was born, resulting in combined market capitalization of approximately €57 billion.
1849–1972: Essel and SilorEdit
Essel (Société des Lunetteries) was founded in 1849 (then-called L’Association Fraternelle des Ouvriers Lunetteries) 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 (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 EssilorEdit
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 growthEdit
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.
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.
Essilor acquired the Swiss company Satisloh in 2008, a manufacturer of prescription laboratory equipment.
Two years later, Essilor acquired 50% of the kibbutz-based company Shamir Optical Industry. Shamir took advantage of Essilor's worldwide distribution network, and developed its activity by launching new products.
In 2010 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 ophthalmic 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 allowing 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 EyeBuyDirect.
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 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.
In January 2017, the company agreed to merge with Luxottica. Luxottica and Essilor 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 Luxottica#Criticism). In March 2018, proposed combination between Essilor and Luxottica received clearance from US federal trade commission and European commission without conditions. On 1 October 2018, the new holding company EssilorLuxottica was created, resulting in combined market capitalization of approximately €57 billion.
Activity and distributionEdit
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, 46% in North America, 7% in Latin America with the remaining 19% based out of Asia, Pacific, Middle East and Africa.
Research and developmentEdit
Essilor invests over €200m each year to research and innovation, three times the size of the rest of the industry combined. In Singapore, the Centre for Innovation and Technology and the International Vision Academy are housed in a facility, called Kallang Bahru. In 2011, Essilor wearer tests have received accreditation from Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris. In 2018, Essilor was ranked for the 8th consecutive year on Forbes listing of most innovative companies in the world. The brand is the third French company in the ranking.
Essilor has a number of partnerships with universities and other scientific and technical communities.
Institut de la VisionEdit
Essilor participate in the Institut de la Vision de Paris, a research center on ocular pathologies inaugurated in December 2008. The development of technologies improving the life of visually impaired people is the main goal of this partnership.
In 2015 Essilor, the Vision Institute and the Sorbonne University in Paris created Silversight, a joint public-private research program on healthy visual ageing.
University of Montréal, CanadaEdit
In 2001, Essilor began a collaborationthe with University of Montréal on perception and ageing. In 2003 this became the NSERC-Essilor industrial Chair.
Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal, CanadaEdit
In 2012 Essilor was one of six industry partners along with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to create a research chair in coatings engineering at the Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal. The research carried out at Polytechnique will improve the sustainability and effectiveness of materials in sectors as varied as aerospace, energy and manufacturing, as well as optics and photonics.
Wenzhou Medical UniversityEdit
In 2013, Essilor established a joint research center in China with Wenzhou Medical University to investigate the progression of myopia, with a particular focus on the evolution of children myopia.
In 2007 Essilor and Shanghai University created a joint R&D Center researching in the area of coatings and nanocolloids.
In 2015 Essilor and the CNRS LAAS signed a five research partnership. A joint, multidisciplinary team of researchers and engineers will pursue research on lenses and glasses with active and connected functions.
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.
Varilux is a brand of progressive lenses for people with presbyopia correcting their vision at near and far distances and in between. The lens was invented by engineer Bernard Maitenaz and was in 1959 the first progressive lens available on the market.
Essilor launched Eyezen lenses in 2015, designed for people's increasingly connected life. Essilor's research had identified that the traditional reading distance of 40 cm which was used as a standard for lens development, had decreased to an average 33 cm when using digital tools.
In 2009, Transitions Optical launched the first commercially viable photochromic shield for motorcycle helmets.
In 2010, Transitions Optical introduced Transitions XTRActive lenses, with new technology that allows the lenses to activate behind the windshield.
In April 2014, Essilor acquired the entire stake of PPG in Transitions.
In 2018, Essilor announced that Transitions Optical has partnered with Johnson & Johnson Vision to make the light-adaptive photochromic technology available in a contact lens for the first time.
Corporate Social ResponsibilityEdit
The Essilor Vision Foundation was founded in 2007 in the United States to help eliminate poor vision and its lifelong consequences among children.
In 2012, Essilor created the Vision Impact Institute which manages a database of research and scientific studies on visual health and raises awareness about the benefits of corrected vision to guide public health policy decisions. One of the first research papers shared by the Institute highlighted that the global economy loses $227 billion every year from lost productivity caused by poor vision. In 2016, Essilor contributed to the EYElliance report ‘Bridging the visual divide’ which was published at the World Economic Forum and which called for more financial support to increase access to eyeglasses.
In 2013, Essilor launched the Eye Mitra program in India to increase access to vision care for underserved populations and at the same time improving their livelihood.
Since 2003, Essilor has been the exclusive global supplier of ophthalmic lenses for this program and has helped more than 100,000 Special Olympics athletes receive prescription eyewear, protective sports eyewear and important health counselling on proper eye health and vision care.
Our Children VisionEdit
In April 2016, Essilor's Vision For Life Fund co-founded a global coalition to tackle the issue of children's vision care. "Our Children's Vision" is a movement bringing together governments, development agencies, the private sector, eye health practitioners and communities with the goal of screening 50 million children worldwide for vision impairments by 2020.
Essilor and the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) signed a three-year partnership that will promote good vision as a key pillar of road safety through awareness campaigns and underline the importance of having a regular sight test to ensure safe driving.
The Jubilee Trust FundEdit
In 2017, Essilor was ranked 4th of the 50 biggest paper consuming companies in France for its environmentally-responsible paper policy.
Employee shareholding at Essilor has strongly developed as it jumped from 21% in 2016 to 55% by the end of 2017, making it one of the three French companies with the highest percentage of employee shareholders. Essilor's employee shareholding effort has been cited as an example by French President Emmanuel Macron several times.
9000 Essilor employees who own more than 8% of the company's share capital have gathered in a shareholder association called Valoptec, which owns three of the fifteen seats at the board of directors.
Board of directorsEdit
As of 2019, the company's board of directors consists of:
- Hubert Sagnières – Chairman
- Philippe Alfroid – Former Chief Operating Officer
- Antoine Bernard de Saint-Affrique – Chief Executive Officer of Barry Callebaut (Switzerland)
- Maureen Cavanagh – Vice-President Retail, Essilor of America; Director representing employee shareholders
- Juliette Favre – Strategic Projects Director, Worldwide Operations, President of Valoptec Association, Director representing employee shareholders
- Louise Fréchette – Member of the Board of the Global Leadership Foundation (UK)
- He Yi – President of Essilor China, Chairman of Essilor Hongkong
- Bernard Hours – Former Chief Operating Officer of Danone
- Ludovic Mathieu – President Middle-East, Turkey, Africa & CIS, Director representing employee shareholders
- Annette Messemer – Divisional board member, Corporate Clients, Commerzbank AG (Germany)
- Marc Onetto – Former Senior Vice-President Worldwide Operations and Customer Service of Amazon
- Olivier Pécoux – Chief Executive Officer of Rothschild & Cie Banque
- Paul du Saillant – Deputy Chief Executive Officer
- Laurent Vacherot – Chief Executive Officer of Essilor
- Jeanette Wong – DBS Group (Singapore) Executive
- Delphine Zablocki – Director representing employees
In 2013, Essilor created a CSR Committee, chaired by Louise Fréchette.
As of 2019:
- Hubert Sagnières – Chairman
- Laurent Vacherot – Chief Executive Officer
- Jayanth Bhuvaraghan – Chief Mission Officer and Communication
- Jean Carrier-Guillomet – Co-Chief Operating Officer
- Norbert Gorny - Chief R&D Officer, IP
- Hilary Halper – Chief Financial Officer
- Grita Loebsack - Chief Marketing Officer
- Frédéric Mathieu – Corporate Senior Vice President, Human Resources
- Bernhard Nuesser – President Online
- Paul du Saillant – Deputy Chief Executive Officer
- Jeremy Teo – Chief Strategy Officer
- Eric Thoreux – Co-Chief Operating Officer, President, Sun, Readers and China
Other key figuresEdit
- Employees: 67,000
- Distribution centers: 14
- Labs: 481
- Plants: 34
- Patents: 8,775
- Investments in research & innovation: +200 million euros/year
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- ‹See Tfd›(in French) Epargne salariale : pourquoi Macron vante le modèle Essilor, fleuron du verre français Le Parisien, 5 March 2018
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