Vision Express

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Vision Express
Private Limited Company
Industry Retailing Optician, Optometrist, Dispensing Optician, Contact Lens Optician
Founded 1988
Headquarters Ruddington, Nottinghamshire, England
Number of locations
UK, Jersey, Republic of Ireland
Key people
Jonathan Lawson (CEO)
Products Spectacles, Contact lenses, Sunglasses, Eye Examinations
Services Eye Exams, Contact Lens Assessments, Spectacles Dispensing
Revenue Increase £280m (2012)[1]
Increase £16.4m (2012)[1]
Owner HAL Trust (Bermuda) via GrandVision SA (France)[1]
Number of employees
4,500 apx (inc. joint venture partnerships)
Parent Vision Express Group Ltd
Subsidiaries Abbeyfield V.E. Ltd
Vision Express (CLS) Ltd
Slogan "Vision.Taken Seriously."

Vision Express is one of the three major operators which dominate 60% of the British retail market for spectacles and contact lenses. Vision Express branded stores in total command over 11% of this current market.[1] The other two major operators are Specsavers and Boots Opticians (which in 2010 bought the fourth largest operator, Dollond & Aitchison).


The Sutton, London branch

The company opened its first store in 1988 at the MetroCentre, Gateshead, quickly followed by a number of other stores. In October 1993 US Shoe Corp Cincinnati sold the seven of its LensCrafters' superstores in the UK to Vision Express. In 1995 the first store operating on a joint venture basis was opened.

The company had grown to over 220 stores across the UK by 2007. In May 2008 Batemans Opticians was acquired which comprised a 75 store chain in the south of England. The majority of these stores have since been rebranded as Vision Express.

There are currently 390 stores throughout the UK, Jersey and the Republic of Ireland.[2] Of these stores approx. 195 are fully company-owned[1] with the remainder being under joint Venture partnerships.

Vision Express is also in Poland, where it has over 110 stores. It has recently opened a series of stores in India in partnership with Reliance.

Vision Express announced on 1 May 2013 that it had acquired twelve optical stores from Crown Eyeglass Ltd. The stores, situated in the North West of England, will become part of the Vision Express portfolio, bringing its total number of outlets in the UK & Ireland to 331. Eight of the properties currently trading as Crown Optical Centre and Direkt Optik will transfer optical services to nearby Vision Express premises and Vision Express will seek to retain the valued experience of the Crown Eyeglass Ltd personnel within the Vision Express store network. The remaining four stores will trade from their existing locations, with their existing teams under Vision Express branding.

On 1 February 2014 the high street retail business of Rayner & Keeler Opticians was bought by Vision Express from JBR1910 Limited.

On 1 December 2014 Vision Express announced[3] the acquisition of the business of Liverpool-based Conlons Opticians for an undisclosed fee. It was stated that 10 of the 19 stores purchased would continue to trade from their current locations with the existing store teams as part of the Vision Express portfolio, with the remaining 8 stores transferring services to their nearest Vision Express store. The following day it was announced that the store in Millom (which was due to be transferred to the nearby location of Barrow-In-Furness), would remain open following a review from local residents, bringing the total number of Vision Express stores to 390 by the end of 2014.

Following a further announcement on 9 December 2014, Vision Express decided to continue to trade from the Conlons store in Annan as part of its portfolio. This would increase the total number of stores to 391 by the end of 2014.

Business structure[edit]

Stores are divided into four types:

UK/Company Owned Stores (owned entirely by Vision Express UK Ltd)

Franchises (owned entirely by the proprietor but under licence to use the Vision Express name and with some access to Grand Vision services)

Joint Venture Partnerships (owned on a 50:50 basis by a manager/proprietor and the Vision Express subsidiary, Abbeyfield V.E. Ltd, and with setup costs subsidised by Vision Express)

Optometry Managed Stores (Franchises/JV Partnerships which have transferred ownership back to Vision Express UK Ltd and are managed by an Optometrist)

The Store Support Centre of The Vision Express Group and subsidiaries in the UK is at Ruddington Fields Business Park in Nottingham.

Takeover by Grand Vision[edit]

Grand Vision acquired Vision Express in 1997. The French parent company Grand Vision has stores under various brands across Europe, and the rest of the world. Under franchise agreement there is a strong Vision Express brand present also in Latvian and Lithuanian markets. These shops were acquired from GrandVision by Latvian entrepreneurs of "LU Optometrijas Centrs SIA".

Additional services[edit]

Vision Express stores offer digital retinal photography. This involves making a digital image of the back of the eyes. It allows the optometrist to record in detail the structures of the back of the eye. When a succession of images have been built up over several visits, small changes at the back of the eye can be more easily detected.[citation needed]


In September 2010 it was reported that blog spam comments were appearing online that were trying to promote Vision Express[4] for SEO purposes. The blog spam attempted to promote with a link for the keyword "eye test". The Wikipedia page for Vision Express had also been edited to try and promote "eye tests" and "opticians" in the External Links section as promotional links back to the website. In both instances, the links would have automatically been tagged with nofollow, which according to Google means the links would have been of little benefit for ranking purposes anyway.[5] In July 2015, former ITN newscaster Trevor McDonald made his own appearance in the advert.


  1. ^ a b c d e Vision Express (UK) Ltd, Annual report and financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2012.
  2. ^ "Find your local Vision Express Opticians". 
  3. ^ McDonough, Tony (1 December 2014). "After 132 years in the same family Liverpool's Conlons Opticians is sold to Vision Express". Liverpool Echo. 
  4. ^ Techwatch: Are Vision Express comment spamming blogs?
  5. ^ Google: About rel="nofollow"

External links[edit]