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Essilor of America Acquires Duffens Optical.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 19, 1996--Essilor of America Inc. (EOA), a leading U.S. manufacturer of ophthalmic optical products, today announced its purchase of Duffens Optical, a Topeka, Kansas-based optical company with twelve laboratories in the Midwest and South Central United States.

Duffens Optical becomes the third organization to join Essilor Laboratories of America (ELOA), EOA's recently-formed network of optical laboratories. Earlier this year, EOA purchased Southern Optical Company of Greensboro, North Carolina and WOS Inc., of Green Bay, Wisconsin These acquisitions are the foundation of EOA's strategy to create the leading network of optical laboratories in the United States. They follow EOA's acquisition of Dallas-based Omega Group, announced in February, 1996.

"The addition of Duffens to EOA is a strategic move that establishes our presence in the central region of the U.S.," explained Thomas R. Sloan, president of ELOA. "In addition, Duffens Optical has a long tradition of excellent service to the professional marketplace and is a strong proponent of high-value products, such as Varilux progressive lenses. Their expertise will undoubtedly be an asset to our organization."

"The Duffens acquisition further extends EOA's commitment to responding to the needs of the optical industry, including accelerated product development and a stronger service base for eye care professionals across the U.S.," added Jacques Stoerr, president of EOA.

Duffens, which employs about 550 people, will retain its identity and continue to operate from each of its current locations.

Simultaneous with the acquisition, will be several key changes in the executive level management at Duffens. The current president, Robert Duffens, will retire and his son, Gary E. Duffens, will be named as his successor. In addition, Scott P. Duffens will fill the position of executive vice president and Greg R. Duffens will fill the position of secretary/treasurer.

Greg Duffens also will assume a principal role at ELOA as vice president of marketing.

Duffens Optical has been a distributor of Essilor's Varilux lens since 1979. The acquisition will not change its current Varilux distribution strategy. Likewise, Duffens will continue to market its current line of optical lens products, including both Essilor and non-Essilor products.

"We will continue our tradition of supplying the products, services, and people to help our customers achieve their goals in serving and satisfying their patients," said Gary Duffens.

Essilor of America is the U.S. subsidiary of Essilor International, headquartered in Paris and traded on the Paris Stock Exchange. In addition to Varilux lenses, EOA manufactures and markets optical lenses under the Silor and Essilor brand names. The company is an acknowledged pioneer in the development and production of plastic lenses and is the U.S. leader in anti-reflective coatings. With the acquisition of Duffens Optical, EOA employs nearly 6,000 of Essilor International's 15,000 employees worldwide.

CONTACT: Tom Sloan, 910/272-8146 ext. 210


Gary Duffens, 303/623-5301


John Bentz, 212/887-8045
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jul 19, 1996
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