A giant eyeglass and sunglass manufacturer in Winnipeg is closing its plant, putting 200 people out of work.

Luxottica Optical makes eye glasses under several brand names including Ray Ban, Ralph Lauren, Prada, Coach and Versace.

Headquartered in Milan, Italy, it is the world's largest eyewear company, controlling over 80 per cent of the world's major eyewear brands.

The Winnipeg plant, which will close Thursday, was the company's only Canadian manufacturing location. It is located at the corner of St. James Street and Sargent Avenue.

That work will now be shifted to a distribution facility in Toronto, as well as U.S. facilities, the company said in a statement.

A spokesperson with the province said Labour Adjustments Services (LAS) collaborates with employers in downsizing situations like this to help support workers moving into new jobs. The LAS contacted Luxottica the day of the announcement to plan a smooth transition for affected employees.

The province said Luxottica hired a consultant to aid the process along and help with resume-writing, interview skill preparation and career counseling. They also indicated that affected employees will be connected with job leads that come on the market in the local manufacturing industry.

Luxottica also told the province their employees had been provided with a debriefing on available employment insurance, as well as training services available through 13 Manitoba jobs and skills development centres located across Manitoba.

Wednesday Manitoba premier Greg Selinger said news of the plant closure came as a surprise to him.

"We were not given any warning of that," he said. "[It] came as a surprise, clearly we're concerned about people losing their jobs."

A Luxottica official issued the following statement to CBC:


Statement from Luxottica

Luxottica’s commitment to providing great customer experiences includes bringing the newest lens manufacturing technologies to in-store labs and operating innovative manufacturing facilities.

Luxottica regularly reviews in-store labs and manufacturing facilities to drive efficiency and maximize resources across its manufacturing network.

As a result of the most recent review, Luxottica has made the difficult decision to close its Winnipeg manufacturing facility in Canada on May 29, 2014.

In addition, Luxottica has made the separate decision to reduce the staffing levels in the Cincinnati Optical Village facility. Luxottica is providing support programs to help impacted employees through this transition.