Dollond & Aitchison

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Dollond & Aitchison Limited
Non-trading company (from 2010 business fully integrated into Boots Opticians)
Industry Retail opticians
Founded 1750
Headquarters Nottingham, England, UK
Key people
Jonathan Gardner (MD)
Products Eye care
Owner De Rigo (42%) and Alliance Boots (58%) (previous owners of Boots Opticians)
Number of employees
2,500 (2007)[2]
Parent Walgreens Boots Alliance
Peter Dollond established his business in 1750
Dollond & Aitchison shop in London (2009)

Dollond & Aitchison was one of the oldest chains of retail opticians in the United Kingdom, having been established in 1750. The business was absorbed into Boots Opticians in 2009 and stores have gradually been rebranded under the Boots Opticians name, completed in 2015.


On 21 April 1750, Peter Dollond opened a small optical business in Vine Street, near Hatton Garden in London. He was joined by his father, John Dollond, in 1752. The Dollonds became notable for the quality of their optical products. In 1761 John Dollond, now a partner in the business, was appointed optician to King George III and the Duke of York and Albany. In 1781, Peter Dollond made bifocal spectacles.

At The Great Exhibition 1851 in London, the Dollonds were awarded a medal for the excellence of their optical instruments.

In 1889, James Aitchison established his first business in Fleet Street.[1] In 1927 Dollond & Co merged with Aitchison & Co, to form Dollond & Aitchison (abbreviated D&A).

In 1969, the company moved to its current location in Aston, Birmingham.[2]

During the 1960s, Dollond & Aitchison was a subsidiary of the former British television company Television Wales and West.[citation needed] From 1970 until 1982, D&A were successful in a series of acquisitions in the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy. In 1994, however, management buy-outs of the UK, Spanish and Italian companies took place.

In the 1990s, D&A launched a number of services for customers such as, in 1996, the introduction of computer analysis for eyesight. The company ran a series of memorable adverts in the 1990s featuring screen actor Burt Reynolds[3] to promote the service. Voiced by Actor Tony Clarkin. They launched their website in 1997 and in 1998 began a "contact lenses by post" scheme. The Italian frame manufacturer De Rigo purchased D&A in 1999 for around 50 million pounds.[4] In 2001, D&A sold its manufacturing arm to BBGR. In the same year, restructuring of the company took place, consisting of the three wholly owned subsidiaries and holding company.

The company employs more than 2,500 staff, including more than 400 opticians. At the time of the Boots merger it had approximately 380 branches in the UK, consisting of around 240 group-owned sites and 140 franchises.[citation needed]

On 29 January 2009, it was announced[5] that Boots Opticians were to merge with D&A, forming a chain of 690 stores and 5,000 staff after Boots purchased a controlling share in D&A. The company had denied several months previously that it was in financial trouble.[6]

Market share[edit]

Dollond & Aitchison was one of the four major UK opticians that between them control 70% of the British market for glasses and contact lenses.[citation needed] Dollond & Aitchison were Royal Warrant holders and supplied glasses to the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.[7]


  1. ^ Bradley, Nigel (2007). "Qualitative Research (7)". Marketing Research: Tools and Techniques. Oxford University Press. p. 271. ISBN 0-19-928196-3. 
  2. ^ Griffin, Jon (29 January 2009). "Boots takes over Dollond & Aitchison". The Birmingham Post. Retrieved 29 January 2009. 
  3. ^ Burt Reynolds Ad for Dollond and Aitchison
  4. ^ Frame specialist De Rigo buys Dollond and Aitchison, Optician, Volume 216, Number 5681, December 11, 1998, page 5.
  5. ^ "Boots Opticians to merge with Dollond & Aitchison". Alliance Boots. 29 January 2009. Archived from the original on 6 June 2014. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  6. ^ "Flagship Store shuts its doors". Trinity Mirror. 2 October 2008. Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  7. ^ [1]


  • Hugh Barty-King. Eyes Right: the story of Dollond & Aitchison opticians 1750-1985. Quiller Press (1986). ISBN 978-0-907621-69-0

External links[edit]

Media related to Dollond & Aitchison at Wikimedia Commons