date of creation
March 3, 1972
number of employees
Alain Afflelou SA is one of the leading optical retailers in France. The company primarily operates on a franchise model with a network of more than 475 stores owned by over 220 franchisees.
Alain Afflelou, the company’s founder, began by opening an optician’s shop in Bordeaux in 1972, the same year he graduated from Paris’ optometry school, the École Supérieure d’Optométrie. The original shop was opened under the name ‘Optica.’
In 1979 Alain bought up the Maison Larghi shop, keeping the original name. This business was one of the oldest and best-known French Opticians and it was located in the heart of Bordeaux, giving Afflelou the visibility he sought. A year later he set up a franchise business to capitalize on the interest the shop was receiving.
By 1987 there were over 140 franchise outlets, with both Optica and Maison Larghi still operating under their own names. During this year the two were merged, to create a new company under the current name of Alain Afflelou SA. It was this year in which Afflelou acquired Leroy-SA Optician, a network of stores in Paris that included a highly-sought after location on the infamous Champs-Elysées. This shop became the Afflelou headquarters from then on, as well as it’s flagship store.
In 1997 the company sold 23 percent of shares to an investment group specializing in re-launching companies publicly, giving rise to rumors that Afflelou was about to become publicly listed. However, Alain Afflelou instead reduced his stake to 30 percent, motivated by difficulties surrounding his purchase of the Bordeaux soccer team seven years before. At one point an investigation was started, and the negative publicity caused Alain Afflelou to move to Switzerland, as well as drop any ideas of taking the company public at the time.
In the early 2000s, with franchises all over France, Afflelou SA began to expand into the international arena to pursue greater sales. In 2002 the first store opened in Morocco, followed by the first franchise in Spain in 2004. By the end of the following year there would be over 100 Afflelou stores in Spain.
In 2011 the company expanded it’s offerings. Alongside glasses and eyewear products, it began offering hearing aids under the Acousticien brand.
Alain Afflelou left the company in 2010, leaving the company in the hands of Frederic Poux, a man who had spent his entire career in the group. Poux then departed in 2018, entrusting the charge of the company with Didier Pascual, another long-term Afflelou manager.
At the end of the 2010s the company went through a series of changes. It took on a new structure with a board of directors and general management, and recruited Rachel Marouani, formerly from Louis Vitton, as non-executive president. Didier Pascual was then replaced with Alain Pourcelot, the first CEO from outside the company since it’s beginning.
Afflelou markets eyewear and hearing aids under brands such as Le Forty d’Afflelou, Tchin Tchin, and Afflelou Les Fatales. It’s network spans over 475 stores across the world.