Eyewear and eyecare brand Specsavers, an optometrist-owned and -led business that entered the Canadian market in 2021, is poised to hit 100 locations in the country in early in 2024.
Bill Moir, Managing Director, Specsavers Canada, said the company will have 99 locations by the end of this year in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario with three more stores to expand from its current 96 store footprint.
And it has plans to expand into Manitoba in the summer of 2024.
“We’ve got locations planned. We’ll be opening five locations over the summer (in Manitoba),” said Moir. “And we can grow beyond that.
“Every province that we go into is a bit like going into almost a new country because the regulations are a bit different, culture is sometimes a bit different. So we’re trying to deliberately (open) one by one. Manitoba is the next province for us.
“We’ve had a lot of interest from optometrists in other provinces too. So we’ll look at other provinces as well wherever we believe there’s customer demand and lots of interest in opening our Specsavers then we’ll go to it. But it will be after Manitoba. We are open to it and we’re certainly looking at other provinces beyond Manitoba.”
Moir said the goal is to look after the eyewear and eyecare needs of one million Canadians by 2025.
“We’re on track for that already. We’re already tracking for half a million Canadians to come through our doors over the course of the next 12 months, which is great. So we’re on track to deliver that goal of seeing a million Canadians in 2025,” he said.
Moir said the main goal is to be in a real estate location that is accessible to customers. Typically, the stores are about 2,000 square feet.
“We are proud to already have a network of more than 200 optometrists and 250 fully licensed opticians operating across Specsavers stores since launching in November 2021. The average location is caring for over 100 Canadians each week,” added Moir.
Specsavers stores are locally co-owned by an Optometry Partner, who is a practicing optometrist, and a Retail Partner, who is an optician or an experienced retail professional.
Specsavers provides comprehensive business support from experts in areas like administration, marketing, accounting, payroll and supply chain. Specsavers locations are averaging over $1.5 million in revenue during their first 12 months of trading.
Independent clinics located within Specsavers are wholly owned and operated by the local Optometry Partner, who receives comprehensive clinical support allowing them to focus on patient care.
“Through an optometrist-led steering group coupled with independently owned clinics with new, advanced clinical equipment, including optical coherence tomography, Specsavers gives optometrists the tools they need to be successful in delivering patient care and to excel as a business owner,” said Naomi Barber, Clinical Services Director, Specsavers Canada.
Since launching, Specsavers has covered 100 per cent of location start-up costs for optometrists and opticians to start their own Specsavers store in communities across Canada. This investment, which averages $500,000 per location, aims to boost business ownership by independent optometrists and opticians, and help them achieve success while remaining autonomous and patient care-focused.
The comprehensive eye exams include a hospital grade 3D eye scan with OCT technology to support with early detection of sight-threatening eye diseases. Specsavers has a range of high-quality eyewear, including over 1,500 frames, lenses and contact lenses starting from $69 for a complete pair of single vision glasses.
“I think the market is quite congested and I think in order to be successful you need to really make sure you stand out and you’re giving customers something different than no one else is, particularly with what’s happening in the economy at the moment with inflation high, interest rates high,” said Moir.
“Customers have got less disposable income to spend and at times like that it’s really important to let customers know they shouldn’t be putting off getting their eye tested regularly because that’s looking after your health. They shouldn’t let money be a barrier.”
Founded in the U.K. nearly 40 years ago by optometrist husband and wife team, Doug and Mary Perkins, there are now more than 2,500 Specsavers healthcare businesses across 11 countries serving over 41 million patients and customers.