Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fantastic Mr Monocle

What fun!

The Telegraph reported last week that VEUK have started to stock monocles in response to requests from young men. Brilliant! wonder if this isn't a simple PR trick (love the Mr Uppity reference!). But what if it isn't.......

Wouldn't it be excellent if our young people caught onto a style of a gentleman - it seems they don't take themselves as seriously as us older folk.

Would I wear one? Well for someone as visually challenged as I a pince-nez would be more the historic fashion article of choice.

Of course, should you be inundated with young men aspiring to present themselves in such a way, there is a company offering high quality, high market monocles, lorgnettes and pince-nez's to opticians in the UK.....I wonder - who could that be?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Luxottica continues retail expansion

The breaking news is that Macy's department stores have signed an exclusive deal with Luxottica to expland the number of Sunglass Hut concessions to more than 600 stores across the US.

Find out more here.

Independent opticians would be forgiven for asking "Where will this end?" if in fact this is not still too distant an issue.

In my last post I suggested that independent opticians and independent eyewear producers should forge closer relationships to deliver greater market differentiation. That would mean we could all compete from a strong niche rather than working harder for less margin against Lux-owned, De Rigo-owned, Saphilo-owned, Specsavers and on-line retail which prefers either fashion house brands and/or "cheap" (and cheap does not always mean cheerful or provide good value).

I was speaking to an enthusiatic optician today who is considering a different optical retail model. Her view is that many independents could be sleep-walking to oblivion, especially where they rely on the marketing pull of the fashion house brand licenses the large Italian companies own.

She believed independents need to embrace the niche and ensure excellence of advice and take the time with patients to give them all the information. Having worked in multiples and independently as a locum she does not feel that we have it quite right.

So how can you build a practice on niche products? And how can you market effectively?

I have my own ideas that I share with those of my customers who prefer to be closer to an independent niche design company.

What is you view?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

So where do independents turn...?

With the news that HAL has taken a stake in Safilo, the UK independent practitioner witnesses a further closing of the market.

A quick analysis of the market reveals the following:

De Rigo with a stake in Boots / D&A;
Luxottica with a stake in David Clulow
HAL (or for our purposes Vision Express) with a stake in Safilo
Specsavers - who also control their supply chain.

All of these organisations benefit from manufacturing, distribution and retail profit combining in group accounts.

If we take this model to the nth degree where margins are improved through technological integration and where efficiencies and synergies are leveraged, where does this leave the independent optician?

How can you compete with the size and margins created by these entities with ultimate degrees of vertical integration and diversity of brand portfolio?

Independent manufacturers support independent opticians who market effectively and who support independent manufacturers in return. It seems both need each other in order to maintain the niche position which is becoming increasingly distilled.

Hence the over-used buzz-word (or empty marketing cliché) "partnership".

Often independent manufacturers provide design concepts and manufacturing quality that is a cut above, increasing wearer satisfaction and enhancing wearer experience whilst also reducing service hassle and costs.

Also, independent manufacturers can also ensure exclusivity that not only benefits the practice but also appeals to eyewear fans (who tend to spend more than those who spend begrudgingly).

Some leading independent eyewear manufacturers (and yes I know they're manufacturers we support and could do worse!):

JFRey and BOZ - ground-breaking design, colour and quality - leading the design market
Henry Jullien Lunetier - highest quality french manufacture for the classically minded - second to none for service.
Oga - strong architectural design for men
Koali - colourful design inspired by nature for women - both bold and feminine
SHOC - designed by a Norwegian optom this collection offers sophisticated quality for the professional
Derapage - most awarded collection from Italy - a world first in mechanical assembly - masculine.
Julbo - French sport sunglasses - high quality to price ratio and No 3 best selling sun brand in France in 2009.
and for children
Hello Kitty - what more can I say! Fun, quality frames for princesses!