January 16, 2017- In a landmark decision for the eyecare world, European giants Luxottica and Essilor have agreed to a merger that can help meet growing demands of eyecare worldwide.

Luxottica, founded by 81-year-old Italian Leonardo del Vicchio, has long been a major brand in frames with holdings including Sunglass Hut and Oakley while Essilor, based in France and funded by Herbert Sagnières has become prominent in the world of lenses. The Wall Street Journal has quoted Hubert Sagnières, Essilor chairman and chief executive, as saying “Never, since lenses were created centuries ago, have the same people made the lenses and the frames.” The merger will result in a single company that can provide consumers with a complete pair of glasses.

The Italian holding company Delfin, Luxoticca’s main shareholder, has agreed to the $49 billion-dollar merger, with Essilor projecting a joint $16 billion revenue and with approximately 130,000 employees. The merger has been praised by Luca Solca, Exane BNP Paribas’ analyst, who has said that the deal “creates significant synergies, both in revenues and costs; it defuses the risk of heightened competition between the two and it removes uncertainty on succession at Luxottica."  News of the merger has led to speculation that Sagnières, who is 60, can potentially succeed del Vicchio as head of the dual company.

 While the merger is still in its early stages, it has the potential to create more affordable eyewear by eliminating competition and reducing production costs. Per a press release by Essilor, both companies seem excited to better serve the global community of which “address the vision needs of the 7.2 billion people in the world out of which 2.5 billion people still suffer from uncorrected vision problems.”

What This Could Mean for Optometrist: Growth in the eyecare industry certainly lends to growth of the optometric field. Essilor and Luxuttica, have worked closely with optometry schools in the past and can recognize the competence and importance of optometrist in the healthcare field. The merger and expansion of EssilorLuxottica will increase the demand for eyecare professionals worldwide. With a lack of qualified ophthalmologists to meet patient demands, optometrists may have a chance gain recognition and expand the profession into the global business market as well as reach billions of individuals through humanitarian efforts.   

Published by Irina Yakubin