Dioptics Medical Products laying off 45 people, or 70 percent of its SLO workforce

An estimated 45 people are being laid off from Dioptics Medical Products in San Luis Obispo, it was announced Thursday.

That represents about 70 percent of the workforce locally, according to a company press release. The layoffs are expected to begin at the end of the first quarter of 2010.

Dioptics is a San Luis Obispo-based manufacturer of sunglasses and optical accessories. It is owned by FGX International, one of the largest designers of brand-name eyewear, including Foster Grant, Magnivision and Gargoyles.

Those laid off will mostly be from the warehousing and distribution departments, and some administrative areas.

While the distribution center will be closed, an estimated 20 "key employees" will remain in the area. Those include people in marketing, product development and sales, according to the press release.

The warehouse and distribution functions will be consolidated into FGX's Smithfield, Rhode Island facility.

FGX bought Dioptics in November 2008. The deal was worth $35 million in cash and involved an exchange of more than 952,000 shares of FGXI.

"We regret the need to reduce employment. We understand the disruptions that layoffs cause in people's lives and in the community," said Alec Taylor, CEO of FGX Internationl, in the press release.

Those losing their jobs will receive severance packages, according to the press release.

Read more about this story at sanluisobispo.com on Saturday or pick up a print edition of The Tribune.