|Doug Perkins (Chairman & Joint MD)|
John Perkins (Joint MD)
Dame Mary Perkins
|Products||Spectacles, contact lenses; hearing aids, domiciliary sight tests|
|Revenue|| £1.7 billion (2011/12)|
£1.5 billion (2010/11)
|Owner||The Perkins family|
Number of employees
|Parent||Specsavers International Healthcare|
Specsavers Optical Group Ltd is a British optical retail chain, operating globally. The chain offers optician services for eyesight testing and sells glasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses. It also sells hearing aids. In the United Kingdom in 2012 it had the largest single market share of the four major opticians, with 42% of the market.
The company had a total turnover of £2.6 billion in 2017/2018 with 1,978 branches in the United Kingdom, Guernsey, Jersey, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.
History and market position
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.
As well as stores in the United Kingdom, they are present in Ireland, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Spain, 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 four hundred locations.
Specsavers also sell optical collections by Jeff Banks, Timberland, Hackett London and Quiksilver for men, Converse and Tommy Hilfiger for men and women, and Roxy, Love Moschino, Cath Kidston and Karen Millen for women plus a new range from Kylie Minogue launched in 2017.
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 April 2004, Specsavers acquired Swedish Blic Optik franchise from its owner Optimum Optik AB. 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 United Kingdom 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 £1.150 billion, with Dame Mary becoming Britain's first self made female billionaire.
In February 2007, Specsavers was ranked No.46 of the United Kingdom's 100 Heaviest Spenders on TV Advertising, spending £27 million. Specsavers' long running advertising campaign is based on the popular strapline "Should've gone to Specsavers". A common theme of these adverts is a character making a mistake because of poor eyesight. These include a sheep farmer who shears his sheepdog and an elderly couple who mistake the seats of a rollercoaster for a park bench.
Specsavers' use of Édith Piaf in advertisements has caused some adverse comment in the press, although the estate of the performer had granted full permission. Other Specsavers adverts have featured Thunderbirds, Postman Pat, Mr. Men and John Cleese as Basil Fawlty.
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 such as Johnson and Johnson brand lenses. For many of these brands, Specsavers also offers their own-brand equivalent Easyvision.
Criticism of internet retailers
In March 2005, Specsavers publicly criticised Glasses Direct, an 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".
The firm operates most of their stores under a 'Joint or Shared Venture Partnership', consisting of a partnership between an Optometry Director and a Retail Director.
This is similar to a franchise agreement; however, unlike many franchises, a customer from one branch of the company 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 other territories such as Sweden, Norway and Spain, they operate a normal franchise agreement.
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 deregulation 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.
In February 2016, it was announced that Specsavers would be the sponsors of the County Championship cricket competition in England and Wales, for the next four years; a deal which was extended in 2018 to include Test series held in England including the 2019 Ashes series. In January 2017, Specsavers were in negotiation to have shops undertake certain front line medical care linked to sight and hearing, in both the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
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