Optical Express

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Optical Express Group
Industry Healthcare
Founded 1991
Founder David Moulsdale (CEO)
Headquarters Glasgow, Scotland
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people
David Moulsdale (CEO)
Products Spectacles, contact lenses, refractive surgery, healthcare services

Increase £204.67m (2011) [1] Decrease £188.22m (31 Dec 2011) [2] Decrease £169.40m (29 Dec 2012) [3]

Decrease £143.20m (28 Dec 2013) [4]

Increase £8.67m (2011) [1] Decrease £0.12m (31 Dec 2011) [2] Decrease -£13.25m (29 Dec 2012) [3]

Decrease -£4.85m (28 Dec 2013) [4]

Increase £3.87m (2011) [1] Decrease -£3.21m (31 Dec 2011) [2] Decrease -£14.96m (29 Dec 2012) [3]

Increase -£6.00m (28 Dec 2013) [4]
Owner DCM (Optical Holdings) Limited
Number of employees
Decrease 1,552 [4]
Subsidiaries Optical Express Ltd
Optical Express (Holdings) Ltd
Cruach Capital Ltd
The Frame Zone Ltd
Bridgewater Hospital (Manchester) Ltd
& others [1]
Website http://www.opticalexpress.com

Optical Express is a retail optical services brand in the United Kingdom. Optical Express is a trading name of the Scottish company DCM (Optical Holdings) Limited which operates as the Optical Express Group with a number of subsidiaries in a range of healthcare services including the optical industries. In 2013 the company was described by the Competition Commission as the market leader in Refractive surgery.[5] As well as a chain of retail opticians the company operates a private hospital in Manchester.[5]

Laser eye surgery in the UK is dominated by three main companies Optical Express, Ultralase and Optimax which, in total, account for approximately 56% of clinics in the UK.[6]

Financial history[edit]

In November 2012, Optical Express closed a subsidiary with 83 stores placed into administration and 40 store closures. In December 2012 Optical Express said it would open 40 new sites as laser consultation/treatment centres in 2013. Landlords expressed dismay that this closure happened two days after quarterly rents were due.[7][8] [9]

Accounts filed at Companies House for the calendar year 2011 reported a loss of £1.5 million, the previous year the company made a profit of nearly £6.9million.[10]

On 21 July 2013 Optical Express narrowly avoided being foreclosed by its lender RBS and Moulsdale averted administration by purchasing the bank's loans.[11]

1 October 2013: Accounts filed at Companies House show DCM (Optical Holdings) recorded a pre-tax loss of £15.1m in the 12 months to 29 December 2012, wider than the £1.5m loss in the prior year. Founder David Moulsdale unveiled the intention to appoint an administrator for DCM Optical Clinic and then buy back 16 of the 19 stores.[12]


An Optical Express store.

The Optical Express group of companies operate in a range of healthcare services including the optical and cosmetic industries under the brand names Optical Express, The Dental Clinic, The Cosmetic Clinic and Bridgewater Hospital which went into administration on 4 June 2015. The group was founded in 1991 by David Moulsdale[13] with one Optical Express branch based in Leith, Edinburgh.[14] The company grew steadily following its establishment, acquiring the 11 stores of Remocker Shapiro in 1995,[15] and the 65 stores of Specialeyes PLC in 1997.[16] These were followed in 2001 by 34 stores from Co-op Eyecare,[17] and 14 more Scottish stores from Specdeals in 2002.[18]

Optical Express entered the refractive eye surgery market in 2002 when it acquired The Health Clinic which offered general ophthalmic procedures across slightly less than 20 locations in the UK. In 2004 it acquired the ophthalmic treatment assets of Boots Group plc from nine sites in the UK. It did not acquire Boots’ other optician assets.[5]

In 2004, Optical Express acquired two Free Vision Euro Eyes laser vision correction clinics in Amsterdam and The Hague,[19][20] marking the first large-scale UK optical chain to extend its laser vision correction business in the Netherlands.[21] Optical Express acquired the dentistry and laser eye surgery services of Alliance Boots in 2005 - the dental services now trade under the name `The Dental Clinic'.[22]

In June 2010 Optical Express was criticised by Which? and BBC Watchdog. Which? criticized Optical Express, along with other laser eye surgery providers Optimax and Ultralase, focusing on the concern that laser counsellors consistently downplayed the risks of surgery[23]

20 November 2013: British Member of Parliament John McDonnell introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill into Parliament calling for regulation of the refractive eye surgery, including laser eye surgery. Among the concerns raised by McDonnell was misleading advertising and he used the 17 complaints about Optical Express to the Advertising Standards Authority in 2011 as an example.[24]

In November 2013 a Competition Commission report into the merger of two rival companies reported that Optical Express share of the laser eye surgery market was nearly twice the size, and in intraocular lens surgery six times as big as both Optimax and Ultralase combined, the report concluded that the merger of Optimax and Ultralase would not lessen competition in the market.[5]

In April 2014 a complaint by the company that rival Optimax had funded a protest website [25] was dismissed by Nominet.[26]

In August 2014 Which? consumer magazine published a report on laser eye surgery which found Optical Express to be the worst provider. [27]

In September 2014 Optical Express was found guilty of failing to properly warn a patient of the risks involved in laser surgery and was ordered to pay £569,000 in damages. [28]

In January 2015, the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced they were investigating claims that an artificial lens (MPlus X manufactured by Oculentis [29]) implanted into the eyes of thousands of patients had caused serious loss of vision.[30]

In January 2015, following an article in the Observer newspaper and the Guardian online,[31] the Daily Mail published an article claiming that blindness could result from lens implant surgery.[32] Optical Express issued legal proceedings against the Daily Mail. In March 2015 the Mail apologised to the Glasgow-based company and agreed to pay compensation for their claim.[33] The Daily Mail are defending the article as it stands and legal proceedings are ongoing.

The company provides home eye tests for patients with complex disabilities and low vision across most of Scotland.[34]


In 2007, the Advertising Standards Authority rejected a complaint that the claim "from only £395 per eye" featured in an Optical Express TV and leaflet campaign was misleading,[35] and in 2011, the authority upheld a complaint about television advert featuring Pádraig Harrington,[36] which was later replaced by one featuring Michael Gambon.[37]

In 2011 the Advertising Standards Authority upheld 17 complaints about brochures.[24]

In 2012 another TV advert was removed due to misleading content.[38] and a complaint was partially upheld against the Optical Express website.[39]

In January 2015 the Information Commissioners Office sent Optical Express an enforcement notice following 4,600 complaints regarding unsolicited messages[40]


In 2007, Optical Express formed a partnership with Glasgow-based charity organisation, The Caring City.[41] Donated spectacles are distributed free of charge via local clinics to communities within Burundi.[42]


  • Optical Express - brand used for optical retail services including glasses, contact lens and laser eye surgery.
  • Bridgewater Hospital - a private hospital in Manchester, England acquired by the group in December 2006. Liquidated 4 June 2015


  1. ^ a b c d DCM (Optical Holdings) Limited and subsidiaries, Financial statements for the year ended 1 January 2011, approved 6/5/11.
  2. ^ a b c DCM (Optical Holdings) Limited and subsidiaries, Financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2011
  3. ^ a b c DCM (Optical Holdings) Limited and subsidiaries, Financial statements for the year ended 29 December 2012
  4. ^ a b c d DCM (Optical Holdings) Limited and subsidiaries, Financial statements for the year ended 28 December 2013
  5. ^ a b c d Optimax Clinics Limited and Ultralase Limited - Competition Commission Report 20 November 2013
  6. ^ "Eye Health Problems and Eye Health Care Features from Optician Online - Ten years of trends in UK refractive surgery". opticianonline.net. Retrieved 1 September 2011. 
  7. ^ Ruddick, Graham (2 October 2012). "Landlords furious over JJB Sports and Optical Express administrations". The Daily Telegraph. London. 
  8. ^ Bridge, Sarah (1 December 2012). "Have expensive specs lost their sex appeal? Haggling and mending their old glasses ... shoppers put opticians in peril". Daily Mail. London. 
  9. ^ Williamson, Mark (2014). "Optician chain to shut one-quarter of stores | Herald Scotland". heraldscotland.com. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  10. ^ Greig Cameron (2013). "Optical Express posts £1.5m loss | Herald Scotland". heraldscotland.com. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  11. ^ Barlow, Ben (2013). "Optical Express saved at 11th hour by founder | The Sunday Times". thesundaytimes.co.uk. Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  12. ^ Cameron, Greig (2014). "Optical Express founder in new restructuring move | Herald Scotland". heraldscotland.com. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  13. ^ "David Moulsdale". TimesOnline. London: News Intl. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  14. ^ Conroy, Harry (17 June 1996). "INSIDE BUSINESS Clear vision from Optical Express - Herald Scotland | Sport | SPL | Aberdeen". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  15. ^ Harry Conroy (27 May 1996). "Angel who put pop group among the stars - Herald Scotland | Sport | SPL | Aberdeen". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  16. ^ "Optical Express (Southern) Ltd v Birmingham City Council, Court of Appeal - Lands Tribunal, April 11, 2005, [2005] EWLands ACQ_109_2002 - ACQ/109/2002 - England and Wales". Case-law.vlex.co.uk. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  17. ^ "Optical Express owner turns Blind Eye to slump in Profits". Lasik-eyes.co.uk. 29 March 2003. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  18. ^ "BUSINESS IN BRIEF - Scotsman.com Business". Business.scotsman.com. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  19. ^ "Optical Express goes Dutch in bid to conquer Europe | Sunday Herald, The Newspaper | Find Articles at BNET". Findarticles.com. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  20. ^ "Optical Express Announce Expansion into Europe - Optical Express Group". Group.opticalexpress.com. Retrieved 2012-09-16. 
  21. ^ "Optical Express - Europe Expansion | Laser Vision Correction Clinics". Lasik-eyes.co.uk. 16 August 2009. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  22. ^ "The Dental Clinic - Optical Express Group". Group.opticalexpress.com. Retrieved 2012-09-16. 
  23. ^ "Microsoft PowerPoint - Laser eye surgery" (PDF). Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  24. ^ a b http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm131120/debtext/131120-0002.htm#13112092000001
  25. ^ http://www.opticalexpressruinedmylife.co.uk/index.php/forum/index.html
  26. ^ Daniel Boffey (5 April 2014). "Optical Express loses bid to close laser eye surgery critic's website". www.theguardian.com. Guardian News and Media Limited. 
  27. ^ Poulter, Sean (17 August 2014). "Clinics fail to warn patients of laser eye dangers". Daily Mail. London. 
  28. ^ Perry, Keith (26 September 2014). "Optical Express ordered to pay woman £500,000 for damaged eyesight - Telegraph". The Daily Telegraph. London: TMG. ISSN 0307-1235. OCLC 49632006. Retrieved 26 September 2014. 
  29. ^ http://www.oculentis.com/newsdetail40.html
  30. ^ Daniel Boffey (3 January 2015). "Top eye clinic faces claims over 'faulty' model of lens". www.theguardian.com. Associated Newspapers Limited. 
  31. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jan/03/top-eye-clinic-faces-claims
  32. ^ "Fears over eye surgery at High St clinic". Daily Mail. London. 4 January 2015. 
  33. ^ Daily Mail (2 March 2015). "Clarifications and corrections". www.dailymail.co.uk. London: Associated Newspapers Ltd. 
  34. ^ "Optical Express expands domiciliary services in Scotland". Optician onLine. 9 July 2015. Retrieved 12 July 2015. 
  35. ^ "ASA Adjudication on The Optical Express Group - Advertising Standards Authority". Asa.org.uk. 19 December 2007. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  36. ^ "Optical Express TV advert "Clarified"". Lasik-eyes.co.uk. 15 May 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  37. ^ "Optical Express launches new ad campaign - Retail Gazette". retailgazette.co.uk. 2011. Retrieved 7 September 2011. 
  38. ^ "Optical Express Rapped Over Laser Advert". Hanson Instruments. Retrieved 2012-09-16. 
  39. ^ "ASA Adjudication on Optical Express Westfield Ltd - Advertising Standards Authority". Asa.org.uk. 2012-08-22. Retrieved 2012-09-16. 
  40. ^ "Optical Express enforcement notice". ico.org.uk. Retrieved 2015-01-06. 
  41. ^ "Gift of sight for world's needy; Specs bring kids a vision of the future. - Free Online Library". Thefreelibrary.com. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  42. ^ "Special Projects - Matthew's Farms". Glasgow The Caring City. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 

External links[edit]