HOYA IN DISCUSSIONS WITH SEIKO
On April 10, it was announced that HOYA Corp. had begun discussions with Seiko Epson Corp. to transfer Epson’s eyeglass lens development and manufacturing business to HOYA. In addition, HOYA and Seiko Holdings Corporation concluded a basic agreement to begin discussions about the transfer of partial ownership of Seiko Optical Products Co., Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Seiko, to HOYA and about forming a global strategic alliance in marketing and distribution to promote eyewear products.
According to Barney Dougher, President & CEO of HOYA VISION CARE, North America: “The partnership between the three companies is at an early stage of discussions and we are not in the position to make any comments until the definitive agreement is reached. HOYA Corporation will make an official announcement at that time.”
NEW WORLD HQ FOR SCHNEIDER
Schneider Optical Machines Inc. opened its 765,000-sq.-ft. global headquarters on February 17 in Fronhausen, Germany, just 35 minutes from its old location at Steffenberg still in the district of Marburg-Biedenkopf, near Frankfurt Airport. The reason Schneider chose the new location was because of its proximity to its prior headquarters so employees could easily commute, and its vicinity to the university towns of Marburg and Giessen. The property is large enough to allow for future expansion. It currently houses an office building, a central warehouse, and a production plant for machine assembly. There are also two state-of-the-art showrooms for precision optics and ophthalmics which allows Schneider to present the newest developments on-site to its customers. Additionally, there’s a special Schneider Training Center where the in-house training team can offer its customers seminars on a regular basis. The company employs 295 people worldwide at five subsidiary locations in The Colony, TX; Hong Kong; Shanghai, China; Bangkok, Thailand; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In April, the company started building the first ultra-precision machine for the production of highly complex free-form surfaces. This new government-funded technology called DesiChain will be used to build other applications. In the fourth quarter of this year, Schneider will launch its first edger.
CONSUMERS UNEDUCATED ABOUT LENSES
A new study of 500 eyeglass wearers, sponsored by PPG Industries, Inc., found that 84% were more focused on their frame selection than on their lenses. This number has risen from 78% in a similar survey in 2007.
The research pointed to a lack of awareness about lens material options in general, with nearly 67% of respondents reporting that they didn’t know which lens material was used to make their eyeglasses. When asked to name as many lens materials as possible, consumers were primarily only familiar with glass (21%), plastic (18%), and polycarbonate (11%). There was little awareness about newer materials and many non-lens materials were named such as metal and titanium. Further demonstrating the confusion about lens materials, respondents also mentioned lens treatments and lens designs when asked about lens materials, including photochromics, anti-reflective (AR) coatings, and progressives.
The research showed that while consumers aren’t familiar with specific lens material options, they expect a lot from their lenses, with 71% saying it was important to them that their eyeglasses were made with the most advanced lens technology. They ranked clearest vision as the most important attribute of an eyeglass lens. Nearly 38% of respondents agreed that a combination of clearest vision, thinness, light weight, and impact resistance were the most important characteristics when selecting a lens, followed by price (20%). About 90% of respondents said they would defer to a recommendation from their eyecare professional (ECP) with regard to lens material.
SAFILO COMPLETES ACQUISITION OF POLAROID
Safilo Group S.p.A. has completed the acquisition of the Polaroid Eyewear business, a leader in optics and polarized lens technology and a global eyewear manufacturer and distributor. “At exactly its 75th anniversary, Polaroid joins Safilo’s own brand portfolio as the pioneer of the polarized lens technology and an iconic brand in the sunglass product category,” said Roberto Vedovotto, chief executive officer of the Safilo Group which is based in Padua, Italy. “We have ambitious development plans for Polaroid, not only in Europe but also in those significant markets where the brand is currently under-represented,” he added.
VSP EXPANDS ITS PRODUCT LINE
VSP Optics Group has expanded the portfolio of its UNITY® Performance Optics products with the introduction of UNITY PLxtra and PLxtreme digital progressive lenses, UNITY SVxtra and SVxtreme digital single vision lenses, and UNITY CVx computer vision lenses. The new products come in virtually all materials and became available mid-April.
SHARPER IMAGE LENSES AND EYEWEAR
Virtual Lens Express in Ocala, FL has licensed the Sharper Image brand name and is coming out with lenses, frames, and sunglasses under the Sharper Image optics label. The Sharper Image is a brand associated with retail stores that sold high-tech novelty gadgets until 2008 when it filed for bankruptcy and closed all its stores. However, the name is still being licensed for use on consumer electronics, gifts, and now, lenses and eyewear. Virtual Lens Express started up in March 2011 and licensed The Sharper Image name in January 2012.
“We’re working as a virtual lab,” said Wayne Keller, president and CEO of Virtual Lens Express. “Our business model is that we work with two large lens factories in China. We buy finished, uncut lenses from China and import them under the Sharper Image brand.”
Virtual Lens is offering Sharper Image in standard progressives as well as a variety of digital free-form designs with a premium AR coating. Its products include Sharper Image Easy View Digital Free-Form, Sharper Image Business Digital Free-Form, and Sharper Image Sports Digital Free-Form. Sharper Image Optics has introduced the new DimonX super poly finished lenses which are 14% thinner and 27% lighter than regular polycarbonate lenses, according to the company, and also offers Hi-Vex lens material, which is thinner than Trivex® material.
“You can place an order with us and we can immediately order it online at our factories which ship the lenses directly to our finishing lab in Ocala,” Keller said. “We’re offering super quality lenses at factory direct prices,” he added. At press time, it was expected that Sharper Image eyewear with Sharper Image lenses will be launched as will Ocean Waves sunglasses with optics by Sharper Image.
SIGNET LAUNCHES NEW WEB SITE
Signet Armorlite has just launched a new corporate Web site, signetarmorlite.com to expand its message of KODAK lenses as “Vivid Solutions for Life” for optical patients and ECPs.
The Professionals subsite is divided into two sections: ECPs and Optical Lab Professionals (LabTech Pros). The LabTech Pros section focuses on providing technical tools to optical lab and technical professionals. Among the resources is an online product catalog where optical lab professionals can search for up-to-date lens specifications, barcodes, and base curve selection charts. Information regarding material processing and optical supplies is also available.
CHERRY’S MANAGEMENT CHANGE
Adam Cherry has taken over ownership of Cherry Optical in Green Bay, WI from his parents. Cherry Optical, an independent wholesale optical lens manufacturer, was founded by Joe and Lynn Cherry in 1999. Adam has worked for the lab since the beginning and has now acquired a majority stake in the company and become the president.
“Obviously, I am impressed with the talent and growth Adam has brought to Cherry Optical for the past 13 years,” said Joe Cherry. “Adam has led our growth into digital manufacturing and Mei milling technology and this will continue with our recent expansion into Crizal® AR manufacturing. Being able to continue what Lynn and I started into the next generation makes us proud and ensures our customers have an independent laboratory option for many years to come.”
Cherry Optical was twice recognized by Inc. 500 magazine as one of the fastest growing privately owned businesses in the United States. It has 38 employees and provides lens products for customers in Michigan, Illinois,Wisconsin, and across the country.
WEST COAST LENS BECOMES LUXE
Two recent changes for West Coast Lens: It changed its name to Luxe Laboratory and moved 40 miles from Yorba Linda to Anaheim, CA. Luxe is now a small, boutique lab aimed at redefining the high-end lab category, since its customer base, post-recession, has moved to higher-end frames and lenses. Luxe currently designs about 800 lenses a month for luxury brand Cartier.
Richard Wilhelm, owner of Luxe Laboratory said: “The change is more than just a name. We are a very different organization today than we were when West Coast Lens was founded in 2001.” West Coast Lens was a generic lab which in the past few years “was giving away AR coatings,” he added.
Wilhelm said one reason for the rebranding was that he wants Luxe Lab to become a category of one. About 80% of Luxe’s orders now come through Skype and iChat. “What we’re trying to do is create an emotional attachment to our services,” he added.
The lab offers premium AR coatings on-site and has released its colorless Lucid™ AR coating which comes with a lifetime warranty. It is also further developing its Free-Form program with its Luxe PAL™ lens design.