“Should've gone to Specsavers”
|Doug Perkins (Chairman & Joint MD)
John Perkins (Joint MD)
Dame Mary Perkins
|Products||Spectacles, contact lenses; hearing aids|
£1.7 billion (2011/12)
|Owner||The Perkins family|
Number of employees
|Parent||Specsavers International Healthcare|
Specsavers Optical Group Ltd is an optical retail chain, operating globally, which offers optician services, along with eyeglasses, contact lenses and hearing aids. In 2012 it had the largest single market share of the four major opticians with 42% of the UK market. The company had a total turnover of £1.5 billion in 2010/2011 and £1.7 billion in 2012, with 1,648 branches in the United Kingdom, Guernsey, Jersey, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Australia, and New Zealand,.
History and market position
Specsavers are a high street opticians, selling spectacles, contact lenses and hearing aids. The group was launched in 1984 by husband and wife team Doug Perkins and Mary Perkins on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel and at the end of 2007 the group had over 1,390 stores with 26,000 employees. As well as stores in the UK, they are present in the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Spain and most recently Australia and New Zealand. The company ventured into hearing services in 2002. Their Hearing Centres division provides hearing tests and hearing aids within the Specsavers optical stores providing services from more than 400 locations.
The co-founder of Specsavers, Mary Perkins, was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in 2007 in recognition of her services to business and the community in Guernsey.
In 2007 Finance Director John Perkins became Joint Managing Director with his father Doug Perkins.
In The Sunday Times Rich List 2011, published in the UK on 8 May 2011, Douglas and Dame Mary Perkins and family were ranked 56th in the list of Britain's wealthiest people. Their personal worth was estimated at £1,150m with Dame Mary becoming Britain's first self-made female billionaire.
In 2006 Specsavers was ranked 46 of the UK's 100 heaviest spenders on TV advertising, spending £27 million. Readers Digest magazine voted Specsavers the most trusted brand of opticians for the fifth year running. In 2011, Specsavers was voted most trusted optician for the tenth year running by Reader's Digest.
Specsavers' long-running advertising campaign is based on the popular strapline "Should've gone to Specsavers".
In 2015, Specsavers have maintained a large focus on promoting online contact lens sales. Online purchasing can be done through their website, which features many popular contact lens brands. For many of these brands, Specsavers also offers their own-brand equivalent Easyvision.
Criticism of internet retailers
In 2005 Specsavers publicly criticised Glasses Direct, a UK Internet retailer, claiming that an internet service "did not meet required standards" and "could not offer advice from dispensing opticians".
In 2006 James Murray Wells the Managing Director of Glasses Direct claimed that four major high street retailers including Specsavers were "leading a campaign to stop prescription glasses being sold over the internet".
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". 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.
Specsavers operates most of their stores under a system which is called the 'Joint or Shared Venture Partnership'. This usually consists of a partnership between an Optometry Director and a Retail Director. This is similar to a franchise agreement between Specsavers and the franchisees; however, unlike many franchises, Specsavers stores work under the policy that 'any Specsavers customer is our customer', thereby meaning that a customer from one branch of Specsavers should expect to get equal service from another branch. It also differs in that Specsavers own shares in the franchisee business rather than just providing goods and services under a franchise agreement. In newer territories such as Sweden, Norway and Spain, they operate a normal franchise agreement.
The company took advantage of the development of the Any Qualified Provider initiative in the English National Health Service from 2009 to expand into the hearing aid business and offering extended opening hours.
Business strategy and future
The Perkinses have stated that they intend to maintain family control of the firm, which currently employs all three of their children in senior roles. Continued expansion into Europe is planned. It is also intended that the company will continue to supply hearing aids. The Perkinses attribute their success to their franchise model and to the de-regulation of the UK Opticians market by the Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, allowing opticians to use previously forbidden advertising and marketing techniques to rapidly take over a market that had belonged to independent local opticians. The Perkins have said of the remaining local opticians that "their days are numbered", and in fact their major competition now comes from large chains such as Boots The Chemist and Vision Express.
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