Business, Company, Feature, Frames, Products, Report

Sunglass Collective combines international style with local service

The family team behind Eyes Right Optical have launched their latest venture, promising to bring a new level of style and service to the Australian and New Zealand eyewear sector.

Running an independent optometry practice in 2020 requires more than just an outstanding level of care and service. While both are critical to maintaining a consistent clientele, people are also demanding access to a selection of high-quality frames that are varied enough to suit their own personal style. In the harsh Australian summer, a pair of sunglasses that are just as fashionable as they are functional is an absolute necessity.

With the market dominated by a few major brands, independent practices are searching for ways their product selection can stand out. As a result, a new company has launched to bring a selection of unique and fashionable sunglasses to create a point of difference for both practices and customers.

Sunglass Collective, the new company from the team behind Eyes Right Optical, has launched to provide a selection of high-quality, innovative and stylish sunglasses to independent practices. The Melbourne company’s arrival has already seen two major brands jump on board with exclusive distribution deals, and more expected to join in the near future.

Family ties

The launch of Sunglass Collective represents a significant moment in Eyes Right Optical’s history. Founded in 1992 by Gaye and David Wymond, the company has built a reputation as a distributor of high-quality, design-focussed and fashionable eyewear targeting the mid- to high-end market. Since its launch, Eyes Right has grown to encompass 32 employees, embrace modern information technology and service systems, and expanded to service Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. It has even been recognised with a variety of awards for product, sales and customer service.

More recently, Eyes Right has been undergoing a transformation, while still remaining true to the values that led to its success. After preparing for succession fpr many years in 2018, Mark Wymond, managing director, and Lisa Wymond, national brands manager, took over the day-to-day running of the business. In 2019, they purchased Eyes Right from their parents David and Gaye.

“The Wymond Family Business Advisory Board was formed with an independent chair. It is great chance to review the past quarter and plan a year ahead,” Mark Wymond says. “We look for beautiful and innovative product that is of the highest quality.

“We represent these products as an easy-to-deal-with company with excellent delivery rates and marketing capabilities.”

Now, with the launch of Sunglass Collective, the Wymonds are looking to take this philosophy to a previously unreached segment of the market.

“Eyes Right Optical is well known for premium quality, design-focussed spectacle frames, but is not so well known for sunglasses,” Mark says.

“The idea to start a new company that is purely focussed on sunglasses made a lot of sense for us. It will make the company more manageable, and capable of reacting quickly to global sunglass trends.”

Bolle and Serengeti

Serengeti

Leading Sunglass Collective’s portfolio are Bollé and Serengeti, two brands with highly distinct offerings.

Bollé’s history dates back to 1888, when in Oyonnax, France, the Bollé family began manufacturing combs and hair accessories from horn. In 1936 the company moved into manufacturing frames from celluloid and rhodoid. After World War II the company focused on moulded nylon and gradually expanded its products to include safety glasses, ski goggles and cycling eyewear.

Serengeti has a different story. Throughout the company’s 45-year history it has committed to developing the world’s most advanced sunglass technology on the market. In 1980 it patented its Spectral Control filter lens process, which is designed to enhance contrast and reduce glare by filtering out blue wavelength light. Since then it has built on this legacy by applying leading lens technology to frames that are durable, reliable and fashionable.

Michael Sakellaris, senior director of global sales at Bollé Group, says while the two share some behind the scenes resources, both are proudly independent of each other and boast drastically different styles.

“Our intention is to make Bollé the most innovative and premium performance sport brand,” Sakellaris says.

For Serengeti, the focus is on technology. “This is why we are working on developing creative styling using the ultimate in premium materials and lenses to deliver a market leading offer,” Sakellaris says.

Australia is an incredibly important market for sunglasses. “Australia has the highest rate in annual sunglasses purchase per person globally,” Sakellaris says. “So for us as a sunglasses-focused company the market is absolutely key.

“Bollé and Serengeti have a long tradition in Australia and with the new distribution through Sunglass Collective, backed by the Wymond family, we are convinced that this will continue.”

“The Wymond family have an international reputation for the highest quality distribution, customer service and ease of doing business.”

Currently the Bollé Group has three main priorities: the Customer First program, its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program, and the establishment of its Excellence in Product Innovation and Creativity (EPIC) centre.

Sakellaris says the aim of the Customer First program is to deliver premium service and systems to all of the company’s retailers.

“The group has invested massively in a new [enterprise resource planning] system to provide our partners with optimal conditions so they can offer our end consumers the best possible experience.”

In terms of CSR, Sakellaris said the company is incorporating sustainable business development practices in order to meet the high expectations of today’s socially conscious environment.

For the products Bollé Group are bringing to the local market through Sunglass Collective, direct benefits will be felt from the EPIC centre.

“This development laboratory is located at our headquarters in Lyon and Carlsbad, where our product teams develop the most advanced optics and helmets, so our end consumers enjoy high-end and qualitative products,” Sakellaris says.

Differentiated portfolio

Bollé

Mark Wymond says Bollé and Serengeti, as well as Morel Azur, will be the first brands re-launched and launched by Sunglass Collective. Eyes Right is proud of their 20-year relationship with Morel, which is continuing with Sunglass Collective.

“We are particularly proud to present Morel Sunglasses to the Australian market, and our journey is just starting with Bollé Brands,” Mark says.

“All of these powerful global brands have a strong heritage of design focused sunglasses, which feels like a perfect fit for what we like to sell.”

Between these three powerhouse French brands, Mark believes that the selection of frames will help independent opticians stand out from the corporates. While advantages like next-day deliveries will help from a service perspective, the selection of brands will also help independents offer more personal service.

“I see more and more a push from end consumers to visit independent opticians because they want to feel important.” Mark says.

“They are looking to have a thorough eye test, followed by a great retail experience that focuses on their needs, while also allowing them to look trendy and a bit different from their friends.”

Having a selection of unique frames that are not available everywhere is an excellent way to do this. “The sunglass sale is very import in practice, not only for the practice’s revenue stream but also the patients comfort while outdoors and driving,” Mark says. “I love wearing my prescription sunglasses even though I have a relatively small prescription.”

Between all of these initiatives, Sunglass Collective has come into the industry as a wholesaler offering a selection of sunglasses that will help independents differentiate their range with leading, global brands to help their customers stand out.