Vision Direct closes Melbourne store shy of one-year anniversary

The expiration of a sublease – rather than poor business performance – is the reason behind the closure on 18 April; according to company co-founder Mr David Menning, who says he is “very happy with the results of our first launch into retail”.Vision Direct’s inaugural bricks-and-mortar store, Vision Direct Optical Centre, opened in Bourke St in May last year to much fanfare. The ‘first-of-its-kind’ store was said to bridge the divide between the real and virtual optometric worlds.It stocked between 800 to 1,000 frames on site, however customers could also access Vision Direct’s substantial online catalogue via in-store computer kiosks.Partnering with Melbourne-based Chester Eyewear, and its optometrist Ms Jessica Chester, the store also aimed to provide patients with a level of care on par with independent optometry practices, along with the benefits of an online eyewear vendor.{{quote-A:R-W:400-I:2-Q:“We were hoping to see if we could extend the lease but we were not able to” -who:David Menning, Vision Direct}}Speaking about the closure, Menning told Insight the store was a tporary venture because the business was only ever able to secure a limited sublease period, which had now expired.“We were hoping to see if we could extend the lease but we were not able to,” he said, adding that the store received positive customer feedback.“We were very happy with the results of our first launch into retail and we are planning some exciting developments for the future with regards to retail to strengthen our strong omni-channel position in delivering the best brands and value to our customers.”At the launch last year, Menning said the business would investigate opening outlets in other Australian cities, however the priority was to ensure the success of the Melbourne store.“We [already] service customers across the whole of Australia, so we have goals to also offer the physical [store] product proposition to customers across Australia as well, which would result in the need to open stores. That is certainly part of our growth plans in the months and years to come,” he said at the time.Vision Direct began trading in 2008 after being established by Menning and co-founder Mr Doron Kalinko in their apartment. After gaining a foothold in Australia, the company has expanded its presence into more than 30 other international markets.The company claims to have the world’s largest online collection of designer eyewear – said to be more than 80,000 models. More reading:Online retailer with 80,000 frame catalogue establishes flagship storeCustomer data hacked at online eyecare retailers