Opticical Revolution sets sights on expansion

Norfolk is helping to lead the way as a new chain of opticians sets its sights on establishing up to 300 stores.
Optical Revolution has announced ambitious expansion plans following the success of pilot stores in Norwich and Colchester.
It has raised an initial £1m by the issue of five million ordinary shares to fund the first round of acquisitions – the beginning of a four-stage plan to open up to 300 stores that will compete with major optical retailers like Specsavers and Dollond & Aitchison.
Optical Revolution’s Norwich outlet opened in Castle Street in 2003 to test the high street brand.
The company caused controversy with its advertising campaign showing models wearing glasses but no clothes. The adverts were said to convey the message of “no hidden extras” and were defended by the company as a way of “grabbing attention in an entertaining, tasteful way”.
The group behind the venture, Optical Partners, now plans to grow the chain through the acquisition of individual and groups of opticians’ practices. Distinctive rebranding, it says, will then “transform old practices into modern retail outlets”.
The Optical Partners team includes non-executive chairman Ken Piggott and executive chairman Michael Kraftman, who have applied their combined experience in the retail sector to the opticians’ market. Until recently, Mr Piggott was responsible for all retail operations of Boots UK while Mr Kraftman is the former deputy chairman of Tempo Electrical.
Mr Kraftman said the top four retail opticians had a combined market share of about 47pc, a relatively low figure in comparison with other sectors.
A key difference between Optical Revolution and the competition was its all-in-one approach with frames and basic lenses included in one price.
During the second phase of expansion, Optical Revolution will float on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and a further 30 to 35 store openings are planned. Phase three will add another 80 stores and phase four will bring the total to 250.
Norwich store manager Milly Stephens said: “We have seen our customer database grow from nothing to 5000 since 2003. At the moment we are in a situation where many of our customers are coming to us from the big chains – we are serious competition now.”

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