Essilor has acquired LTL, an Italian distributor of finished lenses, for an undisclosed amount in a move designed to strengthen its position in the complex Italian market, which is dominated by numerous small players who have close relationships with local opticians. Officials of Signet Armorlite, which distributes its products through LTL in Italy, said they were not informed about the acquisition before it went through and refrained from immediate comment.

With 140 employees and sales of €32 million in 2003, LTL supplies independent laboratories and wholesalers in Italy, the rest of Europe, the Middle East and South Africa and reported 2003 sales of €32 million. Besides producing finished lenses, it owns a prescription laboratory near Padua. Founded in 1980 near Venice, LTL originally manufactured glass lenses but began to develop sales of plastic lenses in 1990. By leveraging LTL's customer portfolio, Essilor will gain fresh opportunities to increase the distribution of its products in Italy and in other markets.

Another fresh takeover by Essilor is that of Tri Supreme, described as one of the 10 largest prescription laboratories in the USA. Based in Farmingdale, Long Island, near New York City, it has 95 employees and generated 2003 sales of $14 million. The lab already distributes some of Essilor's products, including its Varilux progressive lenses and its Crizal anti-reflective coatings.