William Thomas announces retirement after forty years


One of the contact lens industry's greatest stalwarts, William Thomas Managing Director of David Thomas Contact lenses Limited (DTCL), has announced his retirement at the end of March at the age of 62.

After gaining a business degree William joined an Assurance Company in London working his way up from management trainee to assistant manager of their new business department.

David Thomas Contact Lenses was started in 1972 by William's father David Thomas in Croydon south of London. William joined his father soon afterwards and insisted on learning the manufacturing processes before moving into administration.

The Company moved to Northampton in 1976 and soon became an established RGP lens manufacturer. The business also diversified into producing lathe cut soft contact lenses. Over the years DTCL has acquired other contact lens manufacturers.

In 1990 the Company obtained a major contract to supply all the RGP lenses for one of the largest optical chains in the UK. This led to a substantial investment in CNC lathes throughout the manufacturing process and ongoing investment in the latest technology has continued ever since to maintain the Companies reputation for quality and service.

As the contact lens market shifted to frequent replacement low cost soft lenses through the nineties William decided to change the direction of the Company and to focus on producing premium speciality contact lenses. David Thomas acquired Nova Contact Lenses and became the exclusive licensed manufacturer of Rose K lenses for the UK. Further acquisitions have led to a growing portfolio of speciality lenses and today DTCL is the largest manufacturer of Rose K lenses in the world.

William joined the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) Council as a technical section representative in 2005 and became treasurer before being elected BCLA President in 2009. He still serves on the Executive Committee of the Association but will complete his term on Council at this year's conference.

In 2009 DTCL was acquired by Menicon Co. Ltd., of Japan. Menicon is the largest RGP lens manufacturer in the world and purchased David Thomas to raise the profile of Menicon in the UK market. The Companies shared the same family values that had made both Companies successful. DTCL is now an important group subsidiary of Menicon Holdings BV in the Netherlands which is involved in growing Menicon's plans to become a major global contact lens manufacturer.

Outside work William has always kept fit and has completed two London marathons. Having spent over forty years in the contact lens industry William will now be devoting much of his retirement with his wife Lesley taking their narrowboat "Willow" around the English navigable canals and rivers.