IOR (Întreprinderea Optică Română) is one of the few Soviet companies of the Cold War period that successfully penetrated the western market and continues to operate to this day. In 1936 Bucharest the IOR began as a joint venture of domestic industrialists and French opticians with an entrepreneurial spirit.
Their sales catalog includes a wide range of products far beyond the limits of sports optics. IOR manufactures dioptric lenses, laser devices, dental prostheses, video projectors and the like, supplying various markets all over the world. As far as shooting optics are concerned, IOR makes optical devices for military and sport use, both for the Romanian and foreign market. Among hunters and sport shooter, IOR is a brand well known for its production of affordably priced riflescopes.
The development of the IOR was in many respects conditioned by the spirit of time and the politics of Romania. In 1941, the country entered the war on the side of Germany and IOR took on the role of the main arms supplier of the Romanian army. After the establishment of the Soviet Union, the company maintained strong business links with Western European companies such as Carl Zeiss, Leica, Hensoldt and Pentacon. These partners played an important role in the expansion of the company into foreign markets that took place in the late 1960s.
Carl Zeiss, in particular, contributed to the success of IOR’s modernization, as a constant flow of knowledge transfer was established between the cities of Jena and Bucharest. However, after the Prague Spring and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the IOR suddenly lost its primary market. The consequences of this financial blow were felt for decades. The revitalization of IOR’s activity on the foreign market happened almost by chance.
Valentin Leatu is a former bobsledder who represented Romania at the Olympic Games and fled to America in 1984. He regularly visited his homeland in the early 90s, importing small numbers of IOR riflescopes to the States on the way back. Those garnered quite the interest among sport shooters and gave flight to Letau’s start-up Valdada. Since its establishment in 1993, Valdada practically took over the foreign export of IOR optics and the partnership has proven to be a fruitful one.
Optics Trade is the authorized distributor of IOR products in Slovenia since 2019.