What downturn? Specsavers posts 40% sales growth

Just five months after launching in Australia, optometry chain Specsavers has established a network of 100 stores and is generating sales growth of 40%.

Just five months after launching in Australia, optometry chain Specsavers has established a network of 100 stores and is generating sales growth of 40%.

Managing director Peter Larsen says the company has rapidly grabbed second spot in Australia’s optometry market behind dominant player OPSM by using a “disruptive” strategy of building a retail network blindingly quickly.

The company recently opened its 100th store in July.

“We’re a new brand in the market. Being a marketing-led company it’s important for us to get critical mass as quickly as possible,” Larsen says.

The company, which was started by British entrepreneurs Doug and Mary Perkins in 1984, uses a franchise model, although Larsen says franchisees are known internally as partners and receive more support than occurs under traditional franchise agreements.

The chain has been able to expand quickly by convincing independent optometrists to convert to the Specsavers brand.

Despite the retail slowdown – or maybe because of it, given that its main offer is two pairs of glasses for the price of one – Specsavers franchisees are reporting sales are 40% ahead of pre-conversion results.

Larsen admits the roll-out has been fast, but says the Perkins family – which has built Specsavers into a global business with revenue of over $2 billion – are enthusiastic about making waves in new markets are quickly as possible.

“It is a privately-owned business and as a result the owners have very much a long-term focus on the business. They can make investment decisions that a publicly-owned company cannot.”

Larsen will not say how many stores Specsavers hopes to eventually have but says the pace of expansion will not slow next year.

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