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Luxottica sacks 21 in purge of franchising and training


Luxottica has sacked 21 middle and senior executives in a purge of its OPSM and Laubman & Pank franchising and training operations (the Institute of Leaning).

The 21 senior executives were all made redundant in August without prior notice, in a purge unprecedented in the company's 83-year history - since it was founded in 1932.

It was the first known major move by the company since its new chief, president of optical retail in Australia and New Zealand, Ms Anthea Muir, took up her position following her predecessor, Mr Chris Beer, leaving the company in April.

Among those sacked were the company's vice-president business transformation, director of operations and projects, retail sales director, retail operations director, director of franchising and acquisition, director of business-to-business, all franchising recruitment managers and mobile unit testing managers. Several supporting staff at the Sydney head office were also made redundant.

It is understood the company's Institute of Learning has been closed, along with the parts of the company's franchise operations. The fate of individual franchisees is not known.

Luxottica has suggested its optometrist staff members obtain their CPD requirements from the state divisions of Optometry Australia; the state divisions would probably welcome the additional revenue.

News of what was happening at Luxottica first came to light on 21 August when Ms Muir sent Insight an email headed 'Luxottica Update', which concerned changes that had been made within the company. There was need for clarification of the changes.

The email from Ms Muir said, inter alia: "In OPSM we know our greatest successes are where we see local partnerships at their strongest, so we will be bringing together the eyecare and state sales teams to create a 'one store, onea team' mentality that can meet the different demands and requirements in each state.

"This means we no longer have a national eyecare director and our state eyecare managers will now work directly with our state sales managers to provide every customer with the best possible vision, consider their unique needs and lifestyle, and make sure they receive he very best, customised eye-care solution.

"Our Institute of Learning function was also impacted by our restructure, and we will now work with and encourage our optometrists to work even closer with asociations and industry bodies to continue their professional development.

"We will continue to invest in state-of-the-art optometry equipment as we pride ourselves on constantly improving the quality of eyecare in Australia and New Zealand."

AFT Pharmaceuticals

Insight emailed MS Muir seeking a face-to-face meeting to clarify aspects of the email and to discuss her rise through the OPSM/Luxottica ranks.

There was no reply from Ms Muir, however a public relations staffer at Luxottica phoned to offer a phone meeting with her, but with one proviso: the questions to be asked had to be submitted beforehand. That was rejected by Insight, pointing out that we were not interested in following what PR staffers for fading movie stars or rock stars willingly agreed to do in order to obtain free publicity; we are in the serious news business.Then followed a series of exchanges of emails between Luxottica and Insight in regard to repeated demands that questions be submitted to Ms Muir prior to the phone interview.

In short, Luxottica insisted on questions being submitted and Insight refused to do so. That went on over several days. Eventually, it led to a time and date for a phone meeting being agreed upon, but with no submission of questions beforehand.

Furthermore, it was pointed out by Insight that every six months, straight after Luxottica Group's financials were released in Italy, the company's representatives were interviewed by Italian journalists in no-holds-barred sessions, with no prior submission of questions.

As close as the last working day before the phone meeting was to be held, Luxottica again asked for questions to be submitted beforehand. Insight again refused.

On the day the meeting was to be held, a notification appeared on our computers that the meeting had been cancelled by Luxottica.

Demonstrating why submission of questions beforehand an interview is usually useless, another publication did so in this instance with the answers to its questions bearing little, if any, relevance to the questions.Luxottica has 383 OPSM stores in Australia and New Zealand (333 and 50 respectively) and 46 Laubman & Pank stores in Australia.

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