Essilor designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of lenses to improve and protect eyesight. Its mission is to improve lives by improving sight. To fulfill it, Essilor allocates more than €150 million to research and innovation every year, in a commitment to continuously bring new, more effective products to market.
The success of the group, which is present in more than 100 countries, is the result of a strategy that has been driven by innovation for more than 160 years.
Essilor resulted from the 1972 merger between two companies that led the French optics/eyewear market Essel and Silor. In 1959, Silor first developed the plastic Orma® lens, while Essel invented the Varilux® progressive lens. By then Essilor had established itself as the world’s third largest optics Group, operating in France, the US and Japan. Three major goals were created: create Valoptec – an investment fund for shareholder managers, list Essilor on the Paris Stock Exchange and expand internationally.
The 1970s saw Essilor transform into a Group specializing in ophthalmics, focusing on progressive lenses and the use of plastic materials. With growth in new markets during the 1980s and 1990s, the Group became a truly international company - setting up lens production facilities in the Philippines, South America and Thailand, building networks of distributors in Europe and Asia, and merging its US operations under the single brand: Essilor of America.
Essilor consolidated its world-leading position on three strategic fronts:
The Group accelerated its technological innovations to benefit consumers and make business easier for eyecare professionals. Strategic acquisitions in all regions have helped develop Essilor’s multi-network strategy.
The era of customization began – with the launch of the Varilux Ipseo range in 2003 (taking into account wearers’ habits), and Varilux Physio. Other technological breakthroughs included evolutions in the Crizal range to high-performance anti-glare coatings to UV protection. In 2010, Essilor launched lenses specifically designed for use by Asian and Indian wearers.
Essilor Instruments Division continued to develop equipment to help eyecare professionals in measuring, fitting lenses and mounting lenses (Kappa, Tess, Essibox, Mr Blue and most recently with Mr Orange in 2011 and M’eye Fit Touch in 2013). Essilor’s acquisition of Satisloh in 2008 expanded the Group’s offer in lens manufacturing process equipment for prescription laboratories.
Today expansion continues, in line with the Group's mission to help the 2.5 billion people across the world who do not have the visual correction they need. Essilor has acquired more than 150 companies over the past five years, particularly in high-growth markets such as China, Brazil, Colombia, North Africa (Tunisia, Morocco), Turkey and the Middle East. Strategic acquisitions have helped reinforce Essilor’s leadership position such as Shamir Optical – one the largest manufacturers of progressive lenses and moulds – and FGX International and Stylemark – North America’s leading distributors of non-prescription reading and sunglasses.