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The major brands of optics: Essilor

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When it comes to optics and major brands , it is impossible not to mention Essilor . The French brand is today a monument of the sector. Over the years, it has known how to position itself as an innovative leader, always in line with its objective of access to vision for all. Back to a History rich in revolutions!

Essilor was born from a merger

In 1849, thirteen Parisian eyewear manufacturers decided to join forces and set up a cooperative. It was the Fraternal Association of Lunette Workers , which later became the Société des Lunetiers (SL) . Together they make frames and are known and called by their acronym SL. In the 1860s, they acquired several factories and then produced corrective lenses, but also tools for opticians, compasses, drawing equipment and surveying instruments.


In 1951, the company, via Bernard Maitenaz , created a revolutionary innovation, a glass with progressive corrective power intended for presbyopes.

[= ] This lens, soberly called progressive lens then Varilux , can as a bonus correct other visual defects (myopia, hyperopia …)

In 1955, SL continues to create innovations. With Nylor , we decide to fix the lens to the upper part of the frame with a nylon thread. This system is patented and presented around the world by a dedicated team. It is still in use today. In 1962, the SL, as it is constantly called, ceased to be an acronym and became Essel .

In addition, in 1931, the Lissac brothers created their own company of manufacture of frames and then of ophthalmic lenses . This company has two subsidiaries named Sil and Lor . The latter jointly markets with Varilux, an innovative organic glass called Orma 1000 , developed in a new material, CR39 . Sil and Lor eventually merge and become the Silor brand.

In 1972, three years after the death of George Silac, Essel and Silor decided to merge. The Essilor brand was born.


A globally recognized group

Essilor went public in 1975, and the two great breakthrough innovations of Silor and Essel are associated, giving life to Varilux Orma organic glass. In 1979, a first manufacturing plant was opened in the Philippines.

IN 1986, Essilor brought together its American subsidiaries under the name Essilor of America , headquartered in Dallas (Texas) .

The 1990s marked the arrival of new innovations: Transitions lens, the world's first organic photochromic lens, was introduced in 1991. It is tinted according to the ambient light. . Crizal ultra-resistant glass becomes the group's new innovation. The latter benefits from a hydrophobic and anti-reflective treatment, anti-scratch and dirt.

Varilux glass improves over the years, to become even more efficient. Essilor entered the Asian market in 1998 and entered the CAC40 in 2005. In 2012, Essilor opened its first Innovation and Technology center. The Essilor Instruments range provides equipment for opticians.


The sale of lenses and optical equipment represents 86% of the group's sales, against 11.2% for sunglasses and pre-assembled lenses . The rest goes into the sale of equipment.

Finally, in January 2017, Essilor and Luxottica announced that they had signed a merger agreement. This merger would give birth to the world leader in optics, with an annual turnover of some 16 billion euros and a market capitalization of nearly 50 billion euros. After the green light from the European Commission, EssilorLuxottica was launched in October 2018.