After announcing an interesting licensing deal with Polaroid Eyewear (see our previous issue), Essilor is consolidating its development in the sun lens segment, which is growing around twice as fast as the corrective lens market, with the acquisition of a 50 percent stake in Polycore Optical, one of the world's leading producers of sun lenses. The company, which has annual revenues of around €30 million, has been fully consolidated as from July 1.

Founded in 1976 and based in Singapore, Polycore employs 2,200 people around the world. It develops and manufactures a wide range of plano sun lenses and prescription sun and clear lenses at two production factories in Indonesia and Malaysia, plus three prescription laboratories in Indonesia and the Netherlands.

Polycore had a subsidiary with an office in Berlin for the European market, but decided to shut it down last November, citing a new strategic direction. Its functions have since been transferred to other Polycore offices, and officials of Essilor said it has not yet decided on Polycore's future distribution structure.

The acquisition will complement Essilor's existing capabilities in the sun lens sector, which consist essentially of BNL in France and Gentex in the U.S.  BNL makes premium tinted and polarized sun lenses, mainly in polycarbonate. Gentex is recognized for its strength in sun lenses for curved frames, which is also a specialty of the Portuguese laboratory of Shamir, a company partly owned by Essilor.

Essilor says that Polycore's prescription labs in Indonesia will also help the group to expand in that market, which offers significant growth potential for medium and high-index lenses. Less than one out of five Indonesian residents are benefiting from effectively corrected vision, says Essilor.