This subsidiary of Essilor continues to launch new products on the European market, using a different approach and a different sales network from those of its parent company. After its successful introduction of Anateo, described as the first progressive lens that is adapted to the anatomy of the eye, it brought out a unique colorless anti-reflective coating a few months ago and followed in March with a polarized progressive sunlens.
Called Anateo Tilium Polarising, this new polycarbonate progressive lens uses a filter that is placed between the two sides of the lens. Available in brown or gray, it can be coated on both sides with hydrophobic and oleophobic Neva Solaire, the latest addition to the BBGR' family of A-R coatings.
BBGR broke new ground last September with the launch of Neva Secret in many European countries except in France, where it came out last January. This new product was described as the first truly colorless A-R coating, preferred in a test by two-thirds of the wearers because it eliminates the green residual hue of conventional coatings, providing increased contrast and visual acuity, which are especially suited for night driving. Essilor doesn't offer such a solution in its line of Crizal coatings, but both firms use nano-technology in their respective anti-static products.
Made available also with a 1.74 index since June of 2007, Anateo is based on a concept different from that of Essilor's Varilux Physio progressive lens. Anateo contributed to boost sales and profits at BBGR in 2007. BBGR's turnover grew last year to €320 million, up from €299 million in 2006.
These figures exclude sales of a variant of Anateo to some large retail chains in the USA by Essilor.
BBGR's sales have virtually doubled in six years, thanks in part to the acquisition of laboratories and of companies such as Rupp+Hubrach in Germany in 2003 and ATR in Italy in 2005. Their operations have been integrated into those of BBGR, which now has seven labs in various European countries including a former lab of Dollond & Aitchison in the U.K. The most recent takeover, last year, involved a distributor in Norway that previously worked for a competitor. The French company also has subsidiaries in the U.K., the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden, in addition to around 20 distributors in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
BBGR regards itself now as Europe's third-largest manufacturer of progressive lenses after Essilor and Carl Zeiss Vision. Independently of acquisitions, its sales of progressive lenses have been growing twice as fast as on the European market. Up to 30 million lenses were sold by BBGR in the past year all over Europe, compared with 26 million in 2005.
As a subsidiary of Essilor, BBGR benefits from sharing R&D resources, stock lens factories, financial services and other back-office functions, but sales, marketing and customer service are kept separate thanks to specific products and autonomous teams. Service levels are high.
BBGR still uses the two original factories in France that merged in 1974 to form today's company. They are both named after their founders. BB, or Benoist Berthiot, was one the world's first lens surfacing operations, operating in Sézanne since 1946. The other plant, GR or Guilbert Routit, in Provins, has been manufacturing organic lenses since 1948. Today, while the Provins site makes prescription lenses for BBGR, using digital surfacing technologies, the Sézanne site focuses on the production of semi-finished organic blanks.