|Type||Private Limited Company|
|Industry||Retailing Optician, Optometrist, Dispensing Optician|
|Headquarters||Lenton, Nottingham, England|
|Number of locations||UK, Jersey, Republic of Ireland|
|Key people||Philip Hyde, Stephen Noble, Jonathan Lawson (directors)|
|Products||Spectacles, Contact lenses|
|Services||Eye Exams, Contact Lens Assessments, Spectacles Dispensing|
|Operating income||£16.4m (2012)|
|Owners||HAL Trust (Bermuda) via GrandVision SA (France)|
|Employees||4,500 apx (inc. joint venture partnerships)|
|Parent||Vision Express Group Ltd|
|Subsidiaries||Abbeyfield V.E. Ltd
Vision Express (CLS) Ltd
Vision Express is one of the three major operators which dominate 60% of the British retail market for spectacles and contact lenses. Vision Express branded stores in total command over 11% of this current market. The other two major operators are Specsavers and Boots Opticians (which in 2010 bought the fourth largest operator, Dollond & Aitchison).
The company opened its first store in 1988 at the MetroCentre, Gateshead, quickly followed by a number of other stores. In October 1993 US Shoe Corp Cincinnati sold the seven of its LensCrafters' superstores in the UK to Vision Express. In 1995 the first store operating on a joint venture basis was opened.
The company had grown to over 220 stores across the UK by 2007. In May 2008 Batemans Opticians was acquired which comprised a 75 store chain in the south of England. The majority of these stores have since been rebranded as Vision Express.
There are now over 330 stores throughout the UK, Jersey and the Republic of Ireland. Of these stores approx. 195 are fully company-owned with the remainder being under joint Venture partnerships.
Vision Express is also in Poland, where it has over 110 stores. It has recently opened a series of stores in India in partnership with Reliance.
Vision Express announced on 1 May 2013 that it had acquired twelve optical stores from Crown Eyeglass Ltd. The stores, situated in the North West of England, will become part of the Vision Express portfolio, bringing its total number of outlets in the UK & Ireland to 331. Eight of the properties currently trading as Crown Optical Centre and Direkt Optik will transfer optical services to nearby Vision Express premises and Vision Express will seek to retain the valued experience of the Crown Eyeglass Ltd personnel within the Vision Express store network. The remaining four stores will trade from their existing locations, with their existing teams under Vision Express branding.
On 1 February 2014 the high street retail business of Rayner Opticians was bought by Vision Express from JBR1910 Limited.
Stores are divided into four types: UK/Company Owned Stores (owned entirely by Vision Express UK Ltd), Franchises (owned entirely by the proprietor but under licence to use the Vision Express name and with some access to Grand Vision services) Joint Venture Partnerships (owned on a 50:50 basis by a manager/proprietor and the Vision Express subsidiary, Abbeyfield V.E. Ltd, and with setup costs subsidised by Vision Express), and Optometry Managed Stores (Franchises/JV Partnerships which have transferred ownership back to Vision Express UK Ltd and are managed by an Optometrist.
The first two types of store provide a one hour service using both semi-finished lenses (prescription being cut from scratch) and stock lenses. The JV stores tend to provide an overnight service also, with some exceptions. A One Hour on Demand service has been introduced to the company, whereby if a customer would like their spectacles back within the hour they pay a £5 express charge, otherwise the job will be ready the next day. This has been brought into effect to stagger the amount of jobs any one lab would be expected to carry out at one time.
The headquarters of the Vision Express Group and subsidiaries in the UK is at Lenton, Nottingham.
Takeover by Grand Vision
Grand Vision acquired Vision Express in 1997. The French parent company Grand Vision has stores under various brands across Europe, and the rest of the world. Under franchise agreement there is a strong Vision Express brand present also in Latvian and Lithuanian markets. These shops were acquired from GrandVision by Latvian entrepreneurs of "LU Optometrijas Centrs SIA".
Vision Express stores offer digital retinal photography. This involves making a digital image of the back of the eyes. It allows the optometrist to record in detail the structures of the back of the eye. When a succession of images have been built up over several visits, small changes at the back of the eye can be more easily detected.
In September 2010 it was reported that blog spam comments were appearing online that were trying to promote Vision Express for SEO purposes. The blog spam attempted to promote VisionExpress.com with a link for the keyword "eye test". The Wikipedia page for Vision Express had also been edited to try and promote "eye tests" and "opticians" in the External Links section as promotional links back to the VisionExpress.com website. In both instances, the links would have automatically been tagged with nofollow, which according to Google means the links would have been of little benefit for ranking purposes anyway.
- Vision Express (UK) Ltd, Annual report and financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2012.
- "Find your local Vision Express Opticians".
- Techwatch: Are Vision Express comment spamming blogs?
- Google: About rel="nofollow"
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