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Essilor International S.A.
Société Anonyme
Traded asEuronextEI
CAC 40 Component
IndustryMedical equipment
Founded1849; 170 years ago (1849)
Key people
Hubert Sagnières (Chairman)

Laurent Vacherot (CEO)

Paul du Saillant (Deputy CEO)
ProductsCorrective lenses; sun and readers eyeglasses; ophthalmic equipment and instruments
Number of employees
69,000 (end 2018)

Essilor International S.A. is a French-based international ophthalmic optics company that designs, manufactures and markets lenses to correct or protect eyesight.[1] 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.

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.[1][2] The company formed from the merger of ophthalmic firms Essel and Silor in 1972.[3] Its activities are largely focused on research and development. It is the world's largest manufacturer of ophthalmic lenses.[4]

In January 2017 Essilor announced a combination with Italian eyewear giant Luxottica.[1] On 1 October 2018, the new holding company EssilorLuxottica was born, resulting in combined market capitalization of approximately €57 billion.[5]


1849–1972: Essel and Silor[edit]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

1972–1979: Beginning of Essilor[edit]

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.[1]

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 .[citation needed]

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.[6]

1980–1989: International growth[edit]

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).[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

1990–1999: Partnerships[edit]

To strengthen its position on the international market, Essilor has gradually withdrawn its frames business to focus on corrective lenses. Essilor launches the coating ([Crizal]), which provides the lens with resistance to scratches, reflections and stains. Essilor has partnered with PPG of the United States to develop Transitions, a technology that allows a lens to become darker or lighter depending on the intensity of ambient light. With the acquisition of Gentex, Essilor was also able to launch the Airwear lens ([polycarbonate]), a lightweight, unbreakable material.


In 2005, Essilor entered French CAC 40 market.

In 2006, Essilor launched the Varilux Physio.

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.[7]

Essilor acquired the Swiss company Satisloh in 2008, a manufacturer of prescription laboratory equipment.[8]

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.[9]


In the 2010s, Essilor acquires and takes shares in a number of companies, in order to develop its range of services and international presence.

This acquisitions and stakes include FGX International an American company whose brands include Foster Grant[10], StyleMark (US company, pre-mounted glasses) and Wanxin Optical [11](Chinese company) in 2011; Xiamen Yarui (Chinese company with solar brands), Costa (US company producing sloar sunglasses for water sports) and Transitions Optical's stakes from PPG[12] industries in 2013; (Canadian oneline distributor) in 2014; VisionSource [13], a service network of independent optometrists and MerveOptik (Turkish company) in 2015, VisionDirect UK[14], the UK online contacts retailer in 2016.

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.[15] 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.[16]

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).[17]

By 19 March 2016, the company had a share value of 23,564 million euros, distributed in 216,477,934 shares.

2018 EssilorLuxottica[edit]

In January 2017, the company agreed to merge with Luxottica.[18][19][20] Luxottica and Essilor are currently (end of 2017[21][22][23]) in the process of merging, subject to regulatory permission and possibly competition conditions.[24][25][26] Luxottica has faced allegations that it uses its market dominance to inflate prices and restrict competition (see also Luxottica#Criticism).[27][28] In March 2018, proposed combination between Essilor and Luxottica received clearance from US federal trade commission and European commission without conditions.[29] On 1 October 2018, the new holding company EssilorLuxottica was created, resulting in combined market capitalization of approximately €57 billion.


In 2019, Essilor acquired 100% of Brille24 GmbH. Essilor acquired a majority stake in Indulentes and a majority stake in Metalizado Optico Argentino S.A. (MOA).

Activity and distribution[edit]

86% of Essilor's turnover[30] comes from the sale of ophthalmic lenses and optical instruments, (27% of its sales are based in Europe, 46% in North America, 6% in Latin America with the remaining 16% based out of Asia, Pacific, Middle East and Africa), 11% is driven by sunglasses and readers and 3% from other activities, such as equipment sales.

Essilor has a worldwide network of production plants, prescription laboratories and distribution centers that supply corrective lenses,[glasses]] or [[sunglasses] to opticians, optical chains or for sale via its own websites.

Scientific and technical heritage[edit]

Essilor manages a collection of objects related to its history and collaborates with several institutions related to optics. Essilor offered the Pierre Marly collection to the Musée de la lunette de Morez. In 2008, Essilor signed a partnership with the CNAM to join the Mission nationale de sauvegarde du patrimoine scientifique et technique contemporain (National mission for the safeguarding of contemporary scientific and technological heritage).

Research and development[edit]

Essilor invests over €200m each year to research and innovation, three times the size of the rest of the industry combined.[1] In Singapore, the Centre for Innovation and Technology and the International Vision Academy are housed in a facility, called Kallang Bahru.[31] 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.[32]


Essilor has about 450 researchers working at its four R&D facilities: one R&D Center in Ireland dedicated to photochromic lenses and three Innovation and Technologies Centers in Europe (Créteil, France), the United States (Dallas) and Asia (Singapore). These facilities develop new products and work to identify and forge the best possible research partnerships.

In 2018, Essilor Group innovations were honored at Silmo[33] international optics tradeshow: Essilor Instruments' Vision-R™800, in the Material/Equipment category and BBGR's BLUV XPERT, in the Vision category.

Essilor has been named by Forbes as one of the world's 100 "Most Innovative Companie[34] s" for 2018, ranked 52nd; a marked increase compared to 2017 (68th). Every year since 2010, Essilor has figured among the top 100 publicly traded companies identified by investors as having the highest innovation potential.

Virtual reality[edit]

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. [35]

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.


Essilor has a number of partnerships with universities and other scientific and technical communities.

Institut de la Vision[edit]

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.[36]

In 2015, the Vision Institute and the Sorbonne University in Paris created Silversight, a joint public-private research program on healthy visual ageing.[37]

University of Montréal, Canada[edit]

In 2001, Essilor began a collaboration with University of Montréal on perception and ageing.[38] In 2003 this became the NSERC-Essilor industrial Chair.

Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal, Canada[edit]

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.[39] 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 University[edit]

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.[40]


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.[41]



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.

Crizal Prevencia[edit]

Crizal Prevencia, launched in 2013, is a lens that lets in beneficial light and filters out harmful blue-violet and UV rays.

In 2014, Essilor won a Fibre Innovation Award for Crizal Prevencia at an event at the Paris Pierre and Marie Curie University celebrating advances in technology for the benefit of society.[42]


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.[43]


Transitions Optical, Inc., specialized in photochromic lenses, started as a joint venture between PPG Industries and Essilor International S.A., in 1990.

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. Later in the year, Acuvue Oasys with Transitions Light Intelligent technology named as the best invention of 2018 by TIME's Magazine.[44]

Corporate Social Responsibility[edit]


The Essilor Vision Foundation was founded in 2007 in the United States to help eliminate poor vision and its lifelong consequences among children.[45]

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.[46]

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.[47]


Vision Ambassadors[edit]

Following an initial program in China, in 2018 Vision Ambassador Programs have been developed in 8 other countries: Brazil, India, Indoensia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Ivory Coast, Kenya and South Africa and had over 2,248 Vision Ambassadors.

Special Olympics[edit]

Under the global partnership between Essilor and Special Olympics, since 2002, the vision program Special Olympics Lions Clubs Internatonal Opening Eyes program has screened more than 430,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities participating in Special Olympics.

Our Children Vision[edit]

Our Children Vision has reached 30 million children through free eye care programs and equipped close to 2 million with a free pair of glasses by the end of 2018.


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.[48]

The Jubilee Trust Fund[edit]

In April 2018 the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust announced the creation of the Vision Catalyst Fund to bring eye care to people in the Commonwealth. Essilor is a partner in the fund.[49]

Partnership with Royal Government of Bhutan[edit]

In December 2018, Essilor signed Letters of Intent with the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Central Monastic Body to sustainably strengthen the country's vision care infrastructure.

Sustainable development[edit]

In 2017, Essilor was ranked 4th of the 50 biggest paper consuming companies in France for its environmentally-responsible paper policy.[50]

Employee shareholding[edit]

Employee shareholding at Essilor has strongly developed as it jumped from 21% in 2016 to 68% by the end of 2018

10,000 Essilor employees have gathered in a shareholder association called Valoptec, which owns three of the fifteen seats at the board of directors. Internal shareholders and partners hold 4.3% of the Group's capital.

Board of Directors[edit]

The CSR Committee was established following the deliberations of the Board during their meeting of February 27, 2013 and chaired by Louise Fréchette. The main role of the CSR Committee, within the duties of the Board of Directors, is to ensure that Essilor Group effectively addresses its mission to "improve lives by improving sight".

Key figures[edit]

Financial information[edit]

Numbers in millions of Euros
Year 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Revenue 2,138 2,116 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 7,115 7,402
Net income 182 200 244 287 328 366.7 382.4 394.0 462.0 506 584 594 642 757 813 833
Equity funds 1,212 1,206 1,341 1,681 1,881 2,156 2,351 2,713 3,001 3,458 3,921 4,041 5,260 6,092 6,504 6,688
Number of employees: 23,269 23,607 24,793 26,534 29,288 31,534 34,320 34,759 42,704 48,700 52,600 55,000 58,000 55,000 63,676 67,000

Other key figures[edit]

  • Employees: 69,000
  • Distribution centers: 14
  • Labs: 475
  • Plants: 32
  • Patents: 9,535
  • Investments in research & innovation: +200 million euros/year

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Knight, Sam (10 May 2018). "The spectacular power of Big Lens". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  2. ^ "Progressive lenses from Essilor – Visioncare Optometrist Seychelles". Visioncare Optometrist Seychelles. 29 November 2016. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  3. ^ "Press Release – the merger of Essel and Silor | Essilor South Africa". Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  4. ^ Torsoli, Albertina (17 July 2008). "Essilor Slumps as Second-Quarter Sales Miss Estimates". Bloomberg. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
  5. ^ Chad Bray and Elizabeth Paton, Luxottica, Owner of Ray-Ban, in $49 Billion Merger With Essilor The New York Times 2017/01/16
  6. ^ Malaval, Catherine. "Essilor 1972–1997: Mieux Voir Le Monde". Creapress Editions, 1997.
  7. ^ "Kids get free glasses". Vision care venture. May 2009.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Essilor buys Satisloh". optician online. 20 June 2008. Archived from the original on 19 December 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  9. ^ "Essilor to acquire half of Shamir Optical for $130 million". Haaretz. 18 October 2010.
  10. ^ "Foster Grant brand owner FGX International acquires Stylemark". the moodie report. 6 January 2012.
  11. ^ "Essilor in joint venture with Wanxin Optical in China". companies and markets. Archived from the original on 19 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  12. ^ "Essilor buys majority stake in Transitions Optical for $1.73bn". Financial Times. 29 July 2013.
  13. ^ Furr, Laura (4 August 2015). "Vision Source optometry group to be purchased by French manufacturer". The Business Journals. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  14. ^ "Essilor buys Vision Direct UK, strengthens Online Business Portfolio". OpticalOwl. 6 March 2016.
  15. ^ "Essilor Celebrates 40 Years". mivision. 26 March 2012.
  16. ^ "Essilor Renews Special Olympics Partnership for 10 More Years". vision monday. 26 September 2012.
  17. ^ "Essilor Makes Its Presence Felt With Four Awards!". 5 December 2014. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  18. ^ "Ray-Ban maker Luxottica agrees €46bn merger with Essilor". BBC News Online. 16 January 2017.
  19. ^ "Luxottica and Essilor in 46 billion euro merger to create eyewear giant". Reuters. 17 January 2017. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  20. ^ Bradt, George. "Why The Merger of Essilor And Luxottica's Cultures Is The Key To Extraordinary Value Creation". Forbes. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ Article by Euromonitor analyst
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Sticker shock: Why are glasses so expensive?". 60 Minutes. CBS News. 7 October 2012. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  29. ^ "Proposed combination between Essilor and Luxotticareceives clearance from US Federal Trade Commission without conditions". GlobeNewswire. 3 January 2018. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  30. ^ "Essilor Luxottica".
  31. ^ "Essilor opens new facility in Singapore". Channel NewsAsia. 18 September 2014.
  32. ^ "The World's Most Innovative Companies 2018". Forbes. 29 May 2018.
  33. ^ "Silmo d'Or Awards for Essilor Instruments and BBGR at Paris International tradeshow". Essilor Group. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  34. ^ "Essilor moves up in Forbes' World's 100 Most Innovative Companies annual ranking". Essilor Group. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  35. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 July 2011. Retrieved 10 July 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  36. ^ "Institut De La Vision Paris: – The Gateway to European Vision Research".
  37. ^ "Supporting agencies and industrial partners". Anging in vision and action.
  38. ^ "The 10-year history of the NSERC-Essilor Industrial Research Chair: an example of co-evolution of the industry and University R&D from a "mass" to an "individual" needs approach". Points de Vue. October 2011.
  39. ^ "Polytechnique Montréal and seven partners inaugurate the largest NSERC research chair in coatings and surface engineering". Polytechnique Montréal. 25 September 2012.
  40. ^ "PEssilor Establishes Joint Research Center with Wenzhou Medical University". Vision Monday. 21 June 2013.
  41. ^ "OPERA, new joint lab between LAAS-CNRS Carnot Institute and Essilor R&D". LAAS CNRS. 14 December 2015.
  43. ^ "New ophthalmic lenses for a connected life: Eyezen for ametropes and emmetropes, and Varilux Digitime for presbyopes". Points de Vue. June 2015. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  44. ^ "Contact Lenses That Adjust to Light: The 50 Best Inventions of 2018". Time. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  45. ^ "Essilor Vision Foundation". Essilor See Change. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  46. ^ "Eyeglasses for Global Development: Bridging the Visual Divide" (PDF). World Economic Forum. June 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  47. ^ "Eye Mitra skills program featured in NITI Aayog's booklet". 4 August 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  48. ^ "ESSILOR SIGNS ROAD SAFETY PARTNERSHIP". Optometry Today. 4 September 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  49. ^ "$1bn Vision Catalyst Fund to be established to provide vision to entire populations across the Commonwealth". The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust. 12 March 2018. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  50. ^ "Responsible Paper Policy: Essilor Ranked 4Th In France". Essilor. 9 November 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2018.

External links[edit]