MyOptique Group, Europe’s leading online optical retailer selling prescription glasses (Glasses Direct, MyOptique), sunglasses (Sunglasses Shop) and contact lenses (LensOn), today announced it has secured £8 million in investment and appointed a new Chairman to bolster its aggressive international expansion plans.
The round was led by existing investors Acton Capital Partners, Highland Capital Partners and Index Ventures, who were joined by new investors Cipio Partners and GP Bullhound Sidecar, and will be used to fund both further growth and potential acquisitions.
Joining as Chairman is Maurice Helfgott, founder and Chairman of Amery Capital, the leading advisor and investor company to digital, retail and consumer businesses, current Senior Independent non-executive director of LSE-listed Moss Bros and former Marks & Spencer Main Board Executive Director. Jamie Murray Wells steps down as Director and Chairman following the sale of the majority of his shares to Cipio Partners.
The MyOptique Group includes several market-leading sites in the online optical market and was rebranded from Prescription Eyewear Ltd earlier this year to reflect that it is now a full service optical provider across all key categories. Launched originally in 2005 as Glasses Direct, which offers a high service, excellent value proposition for prescription glasses, it acquired Sunglasses Shop, Europe’s largest premium online sunglasses retailer, in 2011. A year later the group launched MyOptique.com, a highly curated premium optical boutique, and also acquired LensOn AB, the leading online contact lenses retailer in Northern Europe. The company has also developed two leading eyewear brands, London Retro and Scout, which are the fastest growing brands on Glasses Direct and which will be further developed as part of the expansion plans.
This year the group, now in its second year of profitability, is expected to achieve Gross Retail Sales of revenues of over £35 million ($57m). The past 12 months has seen the launch of sunglasses and prescription eyewear on LensOn in the Nordic market, the launch of LensOn contact lenses into the UK market, and the introduction of a new London Retro Collection, titled Metropolitan.
Kevin Cornils, Chief Executive, commented: “2013 has been a busy year for us at the MyOptique Group, so it’s great to see the support of our existing and new investors. We now have a full service optical business that spans eight European markets, have served over 800,000 customers, shipping an order every 40 seconds. We’re also thrilled to have Maurice joining us to bring his wealth of experience in fashion retailing as well as public company experience as we accelerate our growth efforts.”
Maurice Helfgott has overseen many extremely successful acquisitions and international growth expansions as well as acting as adviser on strategic marketing, brand strategy, new business development and governance for many high profile companies. Within the Amery portfolio, he currently serves as Chairman of Long Tall Sally where he led the acquisition and restructuring of the business, trebling turnover and taking it into profit. He is also Chairman of the luxury footwear brand, Oliver Sweeney, where he again led the acquisition and turnaround. He started his career as a trainee at Marks & Spencer, rising to Executive Director Food, then Clothing and Home, and serving on the Main Board.
Commenting on his appointment, Maurice Helfgott noted: “I am delighted to be joining the MyOptique Group in this exciting time of growth for the company. The online opportunity in the sector is absolutely enormous, and the team has positioned the business tremendously well to ensure they emerge as the leader. I’m looking forward to working with the board and management to further accelerate its expansion in the UK and across Europe.”
MyOptique’s investor partners include a number of Europe’s standout businesses among their past and present rosters: Acton Capital (My Theresa, Zooplus, Etsy, windeln.de, KupiVIP), Highland Capital Partners (Vistaprint, PhotoBox, Moonpig, Matches Fashion), Index Ventures (ASOS, net-a-porter, Skype, Lovefilm, Farfetch), and Cipio Partners (eCircle, Mysportgroup, Bravofly, buyVIP). GP Bullhound advised on the deal.
Posted on: December 17th, 2013 by Sarah
Great news for MyOptique! Last Friday’s announcement from Tech City UK revealed that MyOptique is to be included in the Future Fifty program - a collective of 50 companies selected for their potential to have a significant economic impact on the UK in the years to come.
It’s great to see MyOptique nestled among other online pioneering luminaries like Graze, Shazam and Just Eat and it shows how all the hard work by MyOptique is paying off – with Sunglasses Shop, Glasses Direct and Lenson all performing strongly in the markets of sunglasses, glasses and contact lenses respectively.
According to Tech City UK, MyOptique is “revolutionising Europe’s £20bn optical industry” – a comment we wholeheartedly agree with – and their decision to include MyOptique in the Future Fifty program will provide MyOptique with access to government support that will help the group as a whole grow throughout 2014 and beyond.
Following the announcement, Kevin Cornils – MyOptique’s very own swashbuckling CEO – represented the company at Friday’s opening of the London Stock Exchange before meeting David Cameron for a few words of encouragement – clearly indicating that the government sees the future lies in the digital marketplaces of the UK.
Kevin said: “We are very honoured to be included among this list of amazing companies in the Future Fifty. It’s also very exciting to see the Government, through its support of Tech City UK and technology businesses like ours, pitch in to help us grow so that we can better serve our customers and continue to create jobs here in the UK. This kind of support is going to be invaluable as the MyOptique Group look to revolutionise the optical retail market.”
The Future Fifty programme was launched in April by the Chancellor George Osborne and Joanna Shields, UK Ambassador for Digital Industries and CEO of Tech City UK and is designed to accelerate the success of high-growth tech businesses like MyOptique. Inclusion in the program means MyOptique now has access to all the support the UK government has to offer, including a range of private sector delivery partners, easier access to publicly funded schemes, incentives relevant to MyOptique’s stage of growth and plenty more that will help MyOptique continue to provide new and existing customers with precisely the eyewear and customer service they need.
Posted on: December 9th, 2013 by Sarah
From spirits, to super heroes, to Miley Cyrus- Here’s a run down of how and where it all began.
Which iconic costume is your all time favourite?
Posted on: October 31st, 2013 by Sarah
As the leaves begin to crunch beneath our feet and we dust off our thermals, the glare of the sun does a u-turn, intensifying it’s rays and making things that little bit trickier in the driving seat. It’s just as important to give yourself the best clarity when driving at this time of year as it is to have your eyes tested- And of course wearing your glasses whilst driving all year round.
A new report carried out by the AA has found that the glare of the setting sun during rush hour is to blame for 36 deaths a year and approximately 3000 accidents. Many of these could be avoided by wearing polarised sunglasses.
With autumn turning to winter the danger is particularly high as the sun sets around 6pm – just when most drivers are heading for home. Drivers are exposed to the risk of temporary ‘blinding’ by the dazzle of the sun from their windscreen.
The AA says the risk will continue until British Summer Time ends on October 27, when the clocks go back.
Most drivers face dazzling bright light at this time of year, because the sun sits at a more direct angle to the earth. There really is the potential for accidents on the road – sometimes the sun is so bright that it’s painful and temporarily blinding – especially if it’s reflected off another car or the water. Polarised lenses eliminate this reflected glare, offering more comfort even for normal driving conditions.
Glasses Direct Stan
Tests have shown that drivers wearing polarised lenses, react quicker than those with regular sunglasses lenses. Actually drivers wearing no sunglasses at all reacted quicker than those wearing regular sunglasses.
Polarised lenses are usually tinted brown or grey to help prevent bright sunlight from damaging or discomforting the eyes. Glasses Direct can add polarised lenses to your prescription for as little as £45.
London Retro Metropolitan
Our lovely and knowledgable team of experts are ready to help you find your perfect pair. Give them a call on 08456 88 20 20
or email them if you don’t fancy chatting- Whatever works for you.
By investing in polarised lenses the risk of being blinded by the sun and being a danger on the roads is reduced dramatically – and you needn’t compromise your style with our wide range of styles and purse friendly price points.
Posted on: October 18th, 2013 by Sarah
At the beginning of the month we shared with you a few visual gems from the London Retro Metropolitan campaign, showcasing some of our favourite frames from the AW13 collection.
Shot within the walls of the quirky and rather humongous warehouse that is also used to film ‘Dragon’s Den’, the creative team behind London Retro’s ‘Metropolitan’ collection spent the day shooting with models Olivier and Christy from Nevs to produce a beautiful and urban tale of vintage inspired style with modern day sophistication.
Inspired by one of London’s most iconic landmarks, the London Underground, the Metropolitan collection consists of 17 directional styles. Each style is named after a tube line or station that has inspired the London Retro design team whilst designing the collection.
Merging retro shapes with this season’s key colour palettes and fabrication trends, the collection holds a plethora of silhouettes to meet the needs of every face shape.
Matt finishes reflect the growing influence of texture, while subtle colourways like muted pinks are introduced for the first time. The collection also features more metal frames than previously.
Posted on: September 16th, 2013 by Sarah
British scientists have made a major leap forward in efforts to treat blindness.
They have grown part of an eye in the laboratory and raided it for the light-sensitive cells which are the key to vision.
These cells were injected into mice, where they seemed to grow normally and formed the crucial connections between the eye and brain.
It is hoped the first human patients could be treated in as little as five years – paving the way for a treatment which could eventually give millions back their sight.
Researcher Professor Robin Ali said that even transplanting a small number of cells could have a big impact on quality of life.
Those who could benefit include men and women with age-related macular degeneration – the most common cause of blindness in the elderly.
It affects more than 600,000 Britons and the number is expected to triple in the next 25 years as the population ages.
There are few treatments for the condition – and no cure.
The University College London researchers are trying to replace damaged cells in the retina, the light-sensitive ‘film’ at the back of the eye.
Last year they used healthy cells from young mice to restore vision in adult animals.
The results were dramatic, with the treated animals able quickly to find their way out of a miniature swimming pool in dim light, while untreated ones swam around in circles.
The scientists took embryonic stem cells – ‘master cells’ capable of turning into other cell types and widely touted as a repair kit for the body – and used a cocktail of nutrients to coax them into turning into a retina.
They then raided the lab-grown retina for rods – key cells which pick up light and send it to the brain for conversion into images.
Finally, they transplanted the rods into the eyes of mice.
A retina has been grown in a dish before but the professor’s team are the first to transplant cells from one successfully.
The journal Nature Biotechnology reports that the lab-grown cells integrated into the existing eye and formed the nerve connections needed to send information to the brain. Professor Ali said: ‘It is a major advance.
‘We are getting closer and closer to carrying out a trial.’
The need to be highly confident that the treatment is safe and effective means that widespread use is at least ten years away.
Dr Rob Buckle, of the Medical Research Council, which funded the team’s work, said: ‘This study is an important milestone on the road to developing a widely available cell therapy for blindness.’
Posted on: August 12th, 2013 by Sarah
It might sound a bit cliched but we really do strive to make sure our customers are happy when it comes to shopping with us. From browsing the site, to using our FREE home trial, to receiving their glasses as soon as possible, we strive to ensure that the experience with us in a nice one.
So when we spotted this rather nice review from blogger Simon Green, who chose one of his frames to be the ’Rupert’ frame after using the Glasses Direct Hometrial and taking advantage of some of our offers we’ve been doing and getting – smart guy!
Simon received 2 pairs of frames with prescription, great customer service and communication, AND a quick turn around all at just £27.00. Sound too good to be true? Read more about his experience here
Simon gives us the thumbs up saying; ‘Five Stars. Very happy with my frames and the prescription lenses appear bang on. The customer service and communication aspect is also very good. The free home trial is a fantastic idea and the subsequent ordering was easy. They come across as very professional and genuinely want happy customers. I think Glasses Direct TrustPilot scoring says it all really. It’s very unlikely I will buy prescription glasses again on the high street’.
What has your experience been like shopping with us? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know and leave a review on TrustPilot where you can read more about what others thought of Glasses Direct too.
Posted on: July 18th, 2013 by Sarah
Superman-like vision may not be such a far-fetched idea- thanks to new contact lenses that magnify objects by nearly three times.
When paired with special spectacles, the lenses give wearers the power to zoom in on the world with telescopic vision. Researchers developed the sight system to help people suffering from age- related blindness.
Christopher Reeve (1974–2004) : Our favourite Clark Kent
Polarising filters in the modified 3D glasses means they will be able to switch from normal vision to magnifying details of an object by up to 2.8 times. Lead researcher Eric Tremblay said that the lenses could help soldiers on the battle field as the study was funded by Darpa; the research arm of the military. Researcher, Tremblay from Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, said ‘Darpa is not so concerned about macular degeneration as with super vision, which is a much harder problem’.
For the glasses, researchers adapteda pair of Samsung produces for some of it’s 3D TV sets. Te prototype contact lens they have produced is 8mm in diameter, 1mm thick at it’s center and 1.17mm thick in it’s magnifying ring.
Posted on: July 3rd, 2013 by Sarah
We’ve got some news from the head office, where they’ve been pretty busy recently:
Let us introduce to you, ‘The MyOptique.com Group Ltd’
- We’re announcing a company-wide re-branding to ‘The myOptique Group’ – which will include our 4 market-leading sites; myoptique.com, Glasses Direct.co.uk, SunglassesShop.com and LensOn. Each of the sites will continue with their own brands and tailored customer propositions.
- The myOptique Group announced fiscal year ended April 2013 annual retail sales of €35m, with an EBITDA of €0.2m, reaching break-even for the first time. The myOptique Group is Europe’s largest online optical retailer, operating across 10 different European markets, with over 60% of sales now coming from outside of it’s home UK market. The Company has served over 750,000 customers to date, and is currently shipping out 2,000 pairs of glasses, sunglasses or contacts a day – or one every 40 seconds!
- The recent success has not gone unnoticed, with the company recently winning inclusion on the exclusive shortlist for the 2013 Media Momentum Awards, and with Kevin Cornils, the Company’s CEO, as a finalist for the 2013 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year award.
- The myOptique Group is looking to build on its recent success, and is exploring options for further growth. The Group acquired LensOn, the leading independent Nordic online contact lens retailer in 2012 and Sunglasses Shop, Europe’s largest designer sunglasses seller in 2011. GP Bullhound has been retained to advise the board on strategic financing options, including a potential listing in the future.
For more information or any press inquiries, please contact Sarah Nice on email@example.com.
Posted on: June 28th, 2013 by Sarah
WHAT IS MY PUPILLARY DISTANCE (OR PD)?
Your PD is the distance between your eyes, measured between the centre of your pupils. For a pair of glasses to perform as well as possible for you, the lenses need to be made to match this distance between your eyes, so that the centre of each lens aligns with the centre of your pupils. This is important if you have a high-strength prescription or require varifocals for example.
HOW DO I FIND OUT WHAT MY PUPILLARY DISTANCE IS?
Usually the optician will not include this with your prescription, so you should ask your optician for your PD following your eye test. Alternatively we can take this measurement from your existing glasses – your PD doesn’t change from one prescription to the next. One of our opticians will call you if we feel this is necessary. If you would rather not send them, we can make your glasses using an average PD measurement (based on a survey of 4,000 people).
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT THAT I HAVE MY PD?
Very occasionally, people with strong prescriptions and whose pupillary distance diverges significantly from the average, may experience problems with glasses made using an average PD measurement. An incorrect PD won’t harm the eyes but may cause discomfort or strain which would be noticeable upon wearing the glasses. If you decide to order a pair of average PD measurement glasses and find yourself getting along with them less than perfectly, do tell us, and we’ll either replace your glasses once we’ve collected a correct PD from you or an old pair of your glasses, or give you a full refund.
Still not sure? Give us a call on 08456 88 20 20 or EMAIL us!
Posted on: March 11th, 2013 by Sarah
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