Dispensing-only retailer plans national network, Optician Magazine

A new dispensing-only optical retailer, which asks the public to have their eye examinations performed elsewhere before selling them prescription spectacles, hopes to establish a chain of 200 outlets across Britain.
Optical Revolution is the brainchild of Michael Kraftman, former deputy chairman of electrical retailer Tempo, who is chairman of the new venture. It will employ dispensing opticians, but no optometrists, and will sell only prescription spectacles.
A trial outlet in Colchester is selling designer frames – Armani, Gucci, Chanel and Dolci & Gabbana – as well as a ‘value range’.
The business has the backing of three other founding partners including Bob Janaway who owns two optical practices. Others involved are Mike Nuttall, former sales director of Phones4U, and Alan Hoppen, a commercial director.
Mr Kraftman, who commented the Essex pilot site was performing well since its summer opening, said the aim of the business was to sell fashionable prescription spectacles at competitive prices.
‘The reason I got involved is that I see potential in optics,’ he said. ‘We’re testing whether a dispensing-only concept will work, and whether the market is ready for it.
‘It’s early days and we’re reasonably encouraged with the Colchester pilot’s performance. Nevertheless, a roll-out of 200 sites will take years.’
He said that there were a few other optical retailers working successfully to a dispensing-only model and the Colchester branch would test whether there were further opportunities.
The pilot will continue for the rest of the calendar year before a decision is made on whether to expand. Mr Kraftman said the Colchester outlet as not in a prime site but initial finance for the project have been spent on ‘educating the public’ through marketing in local press and radio and via leaflet drops.
Investment is being provided in part by Mr Kraftman – following the reported £130m buyout of Tempo led by his brother Paul – and Optical Revolution’s other partners, though no financial figures for the project have been revealed.

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