In April 2017, the board of directors of the Silmo Association, the founding proprietor of the Silmo Paris exhibition, unanimously elected Amélie Morel as the new president of Silmo Paris.
Communications director for the Morel company, which has embodied the know-how of the French eyewear industry for more than 130 years, Amélie assumed the helm of this major optics and eyewear event in its 50th anniversary year.
The fourth generation to manage the family business alongside her brothers Jérôme and Francis, Amélie received a resounding vote of confidence from the association’s board to continue the work of promoting both the Silmo exhibition and the industry; a role previously carried out by Philippe Lafont who passed away suddenly in March 2017.
The first woman president of Silmo, Amélie talks to Dispensing Optics editor, Nicky Collinson, on the eve of the return of Silmo Paris.
NC: How do you juggle co-running a family business with being the president of Silmo?
AM: It isn’t an impossible task. In both of these roles, I am fortunate to be surrounded by supportive employees and partners. Being the president of Silmo is not a full-time job. However, it does require discussions and decision-making with the executive board, and it involves representation, assistance and communication, which are very important in the weeks leading up to the fair, and of course during it. But I am thrilled to participate in this wonderful adventure. It is always stimulating and it offers me a central position in the life of our professional sector.
NC: What changes in dispensing and purchasing habits have you seen during the pandemic?
AM: This period has, of course, been difficult for everyone. We have had to improvise solutions to keep up the dialogue and business in order to compensate for the lack of trade fairs. Digital options were a life-saver, and they helped us stay afloat, which has not been the case for every industry. Optics and eyewear have been relatively well-protected, and many companies and opticians have shown great resilience. The Silmo teams were also very involved in keeping in contact, supporting the market, and providing alternatives such as Silmo Hors Les Murs, a concept that was very appreciated.
NC: Has there been a shift towards wanting to buy Made in France?
AM: The crisis that we are facing is generating nationalistic reactions. Certain clients are focused on supporting local businesses, and Made in France is a sought-after claim in this country, just as Made in Italy and Made in Germany are sought-after in neighbouring countries. However, ours is a worldwide industry with a diverse product array and heterogeneous origins. Silmo is proof of that. The great majority of people who wear glasses make their purchases with a priority on style and on the brand’s commitment to quality.
NC: How is the drive towards sustainability in manufacture and supply impacting everyday optical practice?
AM: This is a subject that concerns our humanity, our economies, our lifestyles, and so on. Climate change and the challenges of social responsibilities must be taken into account by each and every line of business, and our sector is no exception. Seeking ecological materials, reducing the carbon footprint at every step of production and distribution, establishing a circular economy. Once again, Silmo sheds light on these subjects to assist companies, particularly within the Next space at the trade fair, which explores the future possibilities of our industry.
NC: What can visitors look forward to at Silmo Paris next month; and what additional health and safety measures are in place?
AM: Visitors will rediscover the trade fair with its complete ecosystem, which brings our collective expertise and information to its full potential: Silmo d’Or and Silmo Next, which reveal product trends, feature lectures on the markets, explore innovations, and clarify the sector, in order to co-construct a responsible technological future together. Silmo Academy, with the award of €10,000 grant for a research project in the field of optics and vision science.
And, of course, the exhibitors who look forward to meeting opticians to showcase their new products. We will not be applying any particular measures for this 2021 edition, with the exception of all the regulatory health measures established by the governmental authorities. The increasingly prevalent vaccination and the institution of a health pass will make it easier for everyone to travel and access our events. We are happy with these initiatives, which will reassure both exhibitors and visitors, and enable everyone to come and enjoy Silmo freely and safely.
ABDO members are once again being offered the chance to win a trip for two to the 2021 show in Paris from 24-27 September, by entering an exclusive prize draw. Find out how to enter by the closing date of 13 August here.