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 distribute...you 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!


Rob Moss said...

And let us not forget Luxottica's stake in Sunglass Hut - these mightn't be "opticians" but they still drain the high street of money that could otherwise be spent in opticians.

Julian Clarke said...

Thank you Rob - good point.