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Specsavers unveils AU$110 million investment for Canada expansion plans


Specsavers has announced it will invest AU$110 million to cover the full clinic and optical store start-up costs for new partners as the company pursues its first foray into the North American market.

The world’s largest privately-owned optometry group plans to open 200 stores by 2024,  starting with 16 stores in British Columbia over coming months through the acquisition of Image Optometry.

The company opened its first Canadian location in November and has now unveiled its business blueprint for the country’s optical market.

On 17 January, it announced it would invest CA$100 million (AU$110 m) to cover 100% of the costs – which average around $500,000 – for independent Canadian optometrists and opticians to establish their clinics and stores while creating 2,000 jobs.

The company stated its investment decision would help boost clinic and optical store ownership by independent optometrists and opticians, while “remaining autonomous, competitive, and able to provide consumers with better patient care and greater variety of affordable, high-quality eyewear”.

“There is no other way to achieve the best patient care than to ensure independence and autonomy of optometrists and opticians,” said Mr Bill Moir, general manager of Specsavers Canada, said.

“At a time when we’re seeing more and more consolidation in the Canadian market with independent optometrists and opticians being encouraged to sell their practices to a handful of larger players, we intend to reverse that trend and offer an alternative that enables them to own a thriving business, have access to cutting-edge technology and put their patients first.”

By covering all establishment costs, Specsavers stated it would enable store owners to start their clinic and store debt-free, while supporting their career progression with a variety of development initiatives.

With the offer, Canadian optometrist and opticians will have an opportunity to become Specsavers clinic or optical store owners the set-up costs covered in full by the company. Optometry and retail partners will begin receiving earnings generated by both the optometry clinic and the optical store immediately.

“Our supportive partnership model has been the driving force behind the success story of Specsavers for 40 years, and we are invested in helping our partners prosper and deliver the best eyecare possible,” added Moir.

“Specsavers is a company of people who work together to improve the lives of all. We are incredibly excited for Canadians to see the benefit of our tried-and-true partnership model as we expand beyond British Columbia in the next couple of years.”

Currently, Specsavers operates in more than 2,300 locations, encompassing 3,250 optometry and retail partners with more than 41 million customers within the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Northern Europe, Spain and Canada.

The firm was founded in the UK by Dame Mary and Mr Doug Perkins in 1984 before setting up in Australia in 2008. In 2020, it celebrated its 400th store across Australia and New Zealand. Since then, it has announced further locations.

Fast facts – Partnership details for independent optometrists and opticians:

  • Optometry partners retain all the billings generated by their optometry clinic, and retail partners receive a competitive salary from the optical store.
  • Both optometry and retail partners also receive an equal share of the profits generated by the optical store.
  • Optometry partners receive a fully integrated clinic, fitted with advanced technology and equipment, while the retail partners receive a newly designed Specsavers store with a range of over 1,500 frames.

More information can be found here.

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