Thales' optronics businesses in the UK trace their origins to Pilkington Optronics, which was formed by Pilkington plc in 1988 to take control of the company's optronics businesses: Pilkington PE located in North Wales (formed in 1966) and Barr and Stroud, which was based in Glasgow. Pilkington PE later became Thales Optics Ltd. In 2001 Thales Optics, based in St Asaph, together with their sister company Thales Space Technology at Bodelwyddan, merged with Avimo Optical Imaging based in Prestatyn and the Avimo Thin Film Technologies operation based in Plympton - to form the HTO (High Tech Optics)-UK Group, to be based on the existing Thales Optics site at St Asaph.
Thales Optics was divested from Thales in December 2005 as Qioptiq Ltd.
In 2013, Excelitas Technologies (Based in Waltham, Mass. USA), a global technology leader focused on delivering optoelectronics to OEMs seeking high-performance technology solutions, acquired Qioptiq, a privately-held company specializing in the design and manufacture of high performance photonic products and solutions for a wide range of markets and applications.