Optical Express

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Optical Express Group
Optical Express Group
FounderDavid Moulsdale (CEO)
HeadquartersGlasgow, Scotland
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people
David Moulsdale (CEO)
contact lenses
refractive surgery
healthcare services
RevenueIncrease £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]
OwnerDCM (Optical Holdings) Limited
Number of employees
Decrease 1,552 [4]
ParentDCM (Optical Holdings) Limited
SubsidiariesOptical Express Ltd
Optical Express (Holdings) Ltd
Cruach Capital Ltd
The Frame Zone Ltd
Bridgewater Hospital (Manchester) Ltd
& others [1]

Optical Express is a retail optical services brand and laser eye surgery specialist in the United Kingdom.[5] The company also provides refractive treatments such as lens surgery and cataract surgery.[6]

Optical Express is a trading name of the Scottish company DCM (Optical Holdings) Limited which operates as the Optical Express Group.[7] In 2013 the company was described by the Competition Commission as the market leader in refractive surgery.[8] As a chain of retail opticians, offering a number of healthcare services, the company once operated a private hospital in Manchester. This closed on 4 June 2015.[9]

Laser eye surgery in the UK is dominated by three main companies Optical Express, Ultralase and Optimax, which account for approximately 56% of clinics in the UK.[10] Ultralase was acquired by Russell Ambrose, CEO of Optimax, in 2013.[11]

Financial history[edit]

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.[12]

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, which it later went on to do.[13] Landlords expressed dismay that this closure happened two days after quarterly rents were due.[14] Optical Express said it was consolidating its retail portfolio to "focus resources on its flagship locations and online business".[15][16]

On 21 July 2013 Optical Express narrowly avoided being foreclosed by its lender Royal Bank of Scotland and Moulsdale averted administration by purchasing the bank's loans.[17]

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.[18]

Accounts filed for 27 December 2014 show a total revenue of £134m and an operating profit of £13m.[19]


An Optical Express store.

The Optical Express group of companies formerly operated 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. The company now focuses follow on optical and refractive treatments.[9]

The group was founded in 1991 by David Moulsdale[20] with one Optical Express branch based in Leith, Edinburgh.[21] The company grew steadily following its establishment, acquiring the 11 stores of Remocker Shapiro in 1995,[22] and the 65 stores of Specialeyes PLC in 1997.[23] These were followed in 2001 by 34 stores from Co-op Eyecare,[24] and 14 more Scottish stores from Specdeals in 2002.[25]

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.[8]

In 2004, Optical Express acquired two Free Vision Euro Eyes laser vision correction clinics in Amsterdam and The Hague,[26][27] marking the first large-scale UK optical chain to extend its laser vision correction business in the Netherlands.[28] Optical Express acquired the dentistry and laser eye surgery services of Alliance Boots in 2005, trading under the name `The Dental Clinic'.[29] These assets were sold in 2013.[30]

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[31]

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.[32]

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.[8]

In April 2014 a complaint by the company that rival Optimax had funded a protest website [33] was dismissed by Nominet.[34]

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. [35]

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 [36]) implanted into the eyes of thousands of patients had caused serious problems with distance vision.[37] Oculentis released a statement refuting allegations made in articles in the UK media about the lens causing severe vision loss, citing "significant factual innaccuracies" in the articles, claiming them to be "untrue" and "highly defamatory".[38] As of September 2016, no official inquiry into the lens has been launched in the UK.[39]

In January 2015, following an article in the Observer newspaper and the Guardian online,[40] the Daily Mail published an article claiming that blindness could result from lens implant surgery.

The company provides home eye tests for patients with complex disabilities and low vision across most of Scotland.[41]

January 2017: Optical Express versus Associated Newspapers Ltd trial (re Daily Mail article in January 2015) set to commence in the Central London High Court on 12 June 2017.[42]


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,[43] and in 2011, the authority upheld a complaint about television advert featuring Pádraig Harrington,[44] which was later replaced by one featuring the voice of Michael Gambon.[45]

In 2011 the Advertising Standards Authority upheld 17 complaints about brochures.[32]

In 2012 another TV advert was removed due to misleading content.[46] and a complaint was partially upheld against the Optical Express website.[47]

In January 2015 the Information Commissioners Office sent Optical Express an enforcement notice following 4,600 complaints regarding unsolicited messages[48]


Optical Express has supported a number of charities.[49] In 2004, the group donated funds to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to open an employment skills and rehabilitation facility for blind and partially sighted people.[50]

In 2007, Optical Express formed a partnership with Glasgow-based charity organisation, The Caring City.[51] Donated spectacles are distributed free of charge via local clinics to communities within Burundi.[52]

Optical Express is also one of the main supporters of the annual Glasgow Taxi Outing, having been so since 2007. This event sees over 150 taxi drivers in the city dress up in fancy dress and take children with additional learning needs to the seaside for free, along with their parents and carers.[53]

In 2014, Optical Express raised over £10,000 for the STV Appeal. In 2015, it raised over £100,000.[54]

Optical Express has a long-standing relationship with global vision charity, Sightsavers. In 2014, the company and its staff helped to raise over £10,000 for the charity’s Christmas Appeal. In 2016, Optical Express staff from its Lister Gate clinic took part in the obstacle course race Wolf Run at Stanford Hall, Leicestershire and raised over £1,200 for people who are going blind, or at risk of going blind, from preventable conditions.[55]

In August 2016, Optical Express partnered with the charity Chernobyl Children’s Life Line to provide free eye care for children from the contaminated area around the nuclear disaster site.[56]


  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. ^ "Top 10 optical chains UK - Optician". www.opticianonline.net. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  6. ^ Brown, Graeme (2015-09-22). "New Birmingham eye clinic to open after £2m investment". Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  7. ^ "DCM (OPTICAL HOLDINGS) LIMITED - Overview (free company information from Companies House)". beta.companieshouse.gov.uk. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  8. ^ a b c "Optimax Clinics Limited and Ultralase Limited - Competition Commission Report 20 November 2013" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 December 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  9. ^ a b Britton, Paul (2015-06-01). "Exclusive: Jobs lost at Manchester's private Bridgewater Hospital as takeover deal confirmed". Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ Smithers, Rebecca (2013-12-09). "Ultralase laser treatment firm: more questions about its collapse". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  12. ^ Greig Cameron (2013). "Optical Express posts £1.5m loss | Herald Scotland". heraldscotland.com. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  13. ^ "Optical Express posts £1.5m loss". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  14. ^ Ruddick, Graham (2 October 2012). "Landlords furious over JJB Sports and Optical Express administrations". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  15. ^ "Optician chain to shut one-quarter of stores". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  16. ^ "Restructure complete says Optical Express - Optician". www.opticianonline.net. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  17. ^ Barlow, Ben (2013). "Optical Express saved at 11th hour by founder | The Sunday Times". thesundaytimes.co.uk. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  18. ^ Cameron, Greig (2014). "Optical Express founder in new restructuring move | Herald Scotland". heraldscotland.com. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  19. ^ "DCM (OPTICAL HOLDINGS) LIMITED - Filing history (free information from Companies House)". beta.companieshouse.gov.uk. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  20. ^ "David Moulsdale". TimesOnline. London: News Intl. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 6 October 2011.
  21. ^ Conroy, Harry (17 June 1996). "INSIDE BUSINESS Clear vision from Optical Express - Herald Scotland | Sport | SPL | Aberdeen". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  22. ^ Harry Conroy (27 May 1996). "Angel who put pop group among the stars - Herald Scotland | Sport | SPL | Aberdeen". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  23. ^ "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.
  24. ^ "Optical Express owner turns Blind Eye to slump in Profits". Lasik-eyes.co.uk. 29 March 2003. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  25. ^ "BUSINESS IN BRIEF - Scotsman.com Business". Business.scotsman.com. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  26. ^ "Optical Express goes Dutch in bid to conquer Europe | Sunday Herald, The Newspaper | Find Articles at BNET". Findarticles.com. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  27. ^ "Optical Express Announce Expansion into Europe - Optical Express Group". Group.opticalexpress.com. Retrieved 2012-09-16.
  28. ^ "Optical Express - Europe Expansion | Laser Vision Correction Clinics". Lasik-eyes.co.uk. 16 August 2009. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  29. ^ "The Dental Clinic - Optical Express Group". Group.opticalexpress.com. Retrieved 2012-09-16.
  30. ^ "Optical Express - The Dental Clinic". www.cqc.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  31. ^ "Microsoft PowerPoint - Laser eye surgery" (PDF). Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  32. ^ a b Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons,. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 20 Nov 2013 (pt 0002)". publications.parliament.uk.
  33. ^ "Optical Express Ruined My Life :: Category Index". www.opticalexpressruinedmylife.co.uk.
  34. ^ 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.
  35. ^ 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.
  36. ^ Oculentis (25 July 2011). "Oculentis - Competency in Intraocular Surgery". www.oculentis.com.
  37. ^ Daniel Boffey (3 January 2015). "Top eye clinic faces claims over 'faulty' model of lens". www.theguardian.com. Associated Newspapers Limited.
  38. ^ "Eyewire Today | Oculentis Responds to Claims Related to Safety of the Lentis Mplus X IOL". Eyewire Today. 2015-01-08. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  39. ^ "OE fights back over intraocular lens claims - Optician". www.opticianonline.net. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  40. ^ Boffey, Daniel (3 January 2015). "Top eye clinic faces claims over 'faulty' model of lens". the Guardian.
  41. ^ "Optical Express expands domiciliary services in Scotland". Optician onLine. 9 July 2015. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  42. ^ "Law and Media Round Up – 28 November 2016". 28 November 2016.
  43. ^ "ASA Adjudication on The Optical Express Group - Advertising Standards Authority". Asa.org.uk. 19 December 2007. Archived from the original on 23 March 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  44. ^ "Optical Express TV advert "Clarified"". Lasik-eyes.co.uk. 15 May 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  45. ^ "Optical Express launches new ad campaign - Retail Gazette". retailgazette.co.uk. 2011. Archived from the original on 28 March 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2011.
  46. ^ "Optical Express Rapped Over Laser Advert". Hanson Instruments. Archived from the original on 26 July 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  47. ^ "ASA Adjudication on Optical Express Westfield Ltd - Advertising Standards Authority". Asa.org.uk. 22 August 2012. Archived from the original on 24 August 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  48. ^ "Optical Express enforcement notice". ico.org.uk. Archived from the original on 22 January 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  49. ^ "Corporate Social Responsibility | Optical Express". www.opticalexpress.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  50. ^ https://www.rnib.org.uk/sites/default/files/this_is_working.pdf
  51. ^ "Gift of sight for world's needy; Specs bring kids a vision of the future. - Free Online Library". Thefreelibrary.com. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  52. ^ "Special Projects - Matthew's Farms". Glasgow The Caring City. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  53. ^ "Crowds cheer on Glasgow Taxi Outing Fund's annual children's trip". www.scotsman.com. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  54. ^ JustGiving. "Read Optical's story". www.justgiving.com. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  55. ^ Moss, Robina. "Optometry Today | Optical Express team raises more than £1200 to give the gift of sight". www.aop.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  56. ^ Moss, Robina. "Optometry Today | Chernobyl children receive free eye care boost". www.aop.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-09-13.

External links[edit]