Glasses Direct

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Glasses Direct (part of MyOptique Group Ltd.)
Type Private company
Industry Spectacles, online retail
Founded 2004
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Key people Kevin Cornils (CEO), Howard Bryant (CFO)
Revenue Increase £30m (2013)
Employees 100

Glasses Direct is an online retailer based in the United Kingdom that supplies discount-priced spectacles.

It was founded by James Murray Wells in 2004 joining the small existing sector of online retailers. In 2009 it received investment from two major venture capital firms.[1]

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.

A common complaint is that the prices UK opticians charge for spectacles are too high.[2] Such claims about UK prices are common in many areas of retail and services in the UK, see Rip-Off Britain.

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.[3]


In 2004, its first year of business, Glasses Direct sold 22,000 pairs of glasses, and had an annual turnover of £1m.[4]

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.[5]

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.[6] Glasses Direct has also gained newspaper and television coverage through a public relations campaign.


In 2005, rival businesses including Boots, Specsavers attempted to use legal action and an unsuccessful complaint to the General Optical Council (GOC) to close the company down.[7]

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"[citation needed]. 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.


  1. ^ "Growing Business". Growing Business. Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  2. ^ "Cheap glasses online - High street opticians are a rip off". Retrieved 2011-03-02. 
  3. ^ "Glasses Direct prescription limits". Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  4. ^ "YoungBiz — Linking the classroom to the real world!". Retrieved 2011-03-02. 
  5. ^ "Quality Glasses at Online Prices Read Our Story from". Glasses Direct. Retrieved 2011-03-02. 
  6. ^ "Join The Leading Glasses Affiliate Programme from". Glasses Direct. Retrieved 2011-03-02. 
  7. ^ Sarah Ryle (2005-03-27). "The man who found specs appeal on the web | Business | The Observer". London: Retrieved 2011-03-02. 

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