The Zeiss Group reported a 4 percent sales increase to €553 million for its combined Vision Care & Consumer Products division in the first six months of its financial year through March 31. Company officials indicated that the profitability of the segment has been improving as well.

The higher profits are stemming from the group's focus on branded eyeglass lenses and the introduction of new functional lenses and tools that have been well received by the market. Besides its successful, pioneering line of DriveSafe lenses for day and night driving, Zeiss is reporting good feedback for its EnergizeMe lenses for contact lens wearers and its new Zeiss Digital Inside line of computer lenses, optimized for use also with mobile devices.

According to company officials, Zeiss is also being increasingly perceived as a reliable partner by independent eyecare professionals, especially in the U.S., because it has chosen not to invest in retailing like Essilor and Luxottica. Zeiss has expanded its production capacity for photochromic lenses, which are being regarded as a real alternative to Transitions, now a property of Essilor.

Like the rest of the Zeiss group, its Vision Care & Consumer Products division is performing particularly well in the fast-growing economies of the Asia-Pacific region.

The turnover of the whole group increased by 10 percent to €2,550 million in the first half of its financial year, driven by increases of 29 percent in Semiconductor Marketing Technology and 10 percent in Medical Technology.

The operating profit of the group grew significantly to €384 million for the period from €280 million in the corresponding period of the previous year, resulting in an improved Ebit margin of 15 percent. The progress took place in spite of a 20 percent increase in R&D investments, which amounted to €247 million. Investments in property, plant and equipment rose to €75 million from €54 million. A major increase in net cash led to a 56 percent increase in equity to €2,206 million as compared to last Sept. 30.

At a level of 21,200 as of March 31, the total number of employees within the group was 5 percent higher than at the same time last year. This doesn't include a further 5,000 people employed in Zeiss' Vision Global Operations for the production of eyeglass lenses, which is listed separately because it is subject to major seasonal and regional fluctuations.

The group intends to increase the staff by more than 1,000 people by 2020. It will be offering interesting career and development opportunities to experts in software, design, natural sciences and engineering as part of the Zeiss Agenda 2020, which calls for new digital solutions and closer connections with consumers.