|This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2014)|
|Industry||Spectacles, online retail|
|Headquarters||London, United Kingdom|
|Key people||Kevin Cornils (CEO), Howard Bryant (CFO)|
It is also notable for the legal and regulatory attempts to close it down by several major bricks and mortar competitors.
In the UK a customer can go to an opticians (shop) on the high street and purchase a fixed price eye examination, from which the optician will issue a written prescription. This can then be used at any opticians to have spectacles made.
Glasses Direct is able to offer discounted glasses because it does not have high rents associated with retail outlets.
There have been concern by many leading professionals, including the GOC about the effects of supplying ophthalmic glasses over the Internet.
Glasses Direct will not fulfil strong prescriptions in the following ranges- If the combined SPH and CYL is greater than +/-8.00. If the CYL is over +/-4.00. If there is more than 5.00D difference between each eye. If the prism correction is over 4.00 in any direction.
In 2004, its first year of business, Glasses Direct sold 22,000 pairs of glasses, and had an annual turnover of £1m.
In 2007 Glasses Direct had over 30 members of staff and claimed to receive an order every ten minutes, with over 100,000 customers served.
In July 2007 Glasses Direct received $6M of new venture capital from Index Ventures and Highland Capital Partners. The company stated that much of the money would be spent on marketing, with the aim of transforming the spectacles market to one where people were more likely to own multiple pairs, matching particular occasions or looks, due to lower prices, comparing this to the model used successfully by the wristwatch company Swatch. Saul Klein a partner at Index Ventures also suggested that expansion of Glasses Direct to markets other than the UK was likely.
Current methods of marketing for the company include use of Google's AdWords service on its UK portal and pay-per-click internet affiliate marketing. Glasses Direct has also gained newspaper and television coverage through a public relations campaign.
In 2006, Glasses Direct's founder James Murray Wells sought election to the GOC, claiming that a representative from the internet was needed. He withdrew after Specsavers managing director Doug Perkins objected to his candidacy and Murray Wells accused Perkins of rigging the election. Perkins maintained that he was concerned that Murray Wells is not a qualified optometrist although this is not a requirement for membership.
It is important to reiterate that the concerns raised by their rivals where also partially shared by the GOC(General Optical Council). I quote "Also in 2006 Wells sought election to the General Optical Council, arguing that internet retailers and their customers needed representation. In response the Managing Director of Specsavers, Doug Perkins, wrote to Specsavers branches asking the company's opticians to rally round one of their own candidates"..candidates with the interests of hands-on, professional practitioners at heart". The General Optical Council had previously stated that it believed internet sales of glasses could pose a risk to "public safety" and its priority was maintaining high standards of eye care for the public, and not members' commercial interests. Murray Wells withdrew from the election after it became clear he would not win a ballot.
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- Sarah Ryle (2005-03-27). "The man who found specs appeal on the web | Business | The Observer". London: Observer.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-03-02.