One of the first factories for ophthalmic lens coating
At the end of the 18th century, a craftsman named Bourot had already begun a rather rudimentary production of glass lenses in Sézanne. Around 1832, he met a young Louis Berthiot in Paris, with whom he went on to establish one of the world’s first optical glass factories, in 1836.
In 1846, Louis Berthiot acquired three mills in the Marne region, including the Saint-Hubert milll in Sézanne, where he could set up his workshops. He was succeeded by his son Alfred in 1857. He was the first in France to use a machine to cut cylindrical lenses to correct astigmatism. He then married a woman by the name of Benoist — hence the name of the company founded in 1870, BENOIST-BERTHIOT & Cie.
A giant of French eye care was born
In the second half of the 19th century, a production workshop for eyeglass lenses opened in Pongelot, close to Provins, in an area known for its many water mills. Like in Sézanne, water provided the power needed to coat the lenses. This workshop was bought in 1904 by a Paris optician, Gaston Guilbert, who acquired three other mills before the First World War.
Upon his death in 1924, the factory became SARL Guilbert-Routit, Paul Routit being the company’s UK sales director.
The site in Provins, which has since become a BBGR prescription laboratory, is now one of the biggest lens development and production centres in Europe.
In 1974, BENOIST-BERTHIOT and SARL GUILBERT-ROUTIT pooled their expertise and formed BBGR SAS.