Infobox Company
name = Specsavers

type = Private
genre =
foundation = 1984
founder = Doug and Dame Mary Perkins DBE
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location = flagicon|Guernsey St Andrew's, Guernsey
locations =
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revenue = £1 billion (2007/8)
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num_employees = > 17,000
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Specsavers is the world's largest privately-owned optical retailer. It is also the biggest of the four major UK Opticians (retailers) that control 70% of the British market for spectacles and contact lenses, having 35% of the market. [ [http://www.nicklouth.com/spectacles.htm nicklouth.com] ] The company has over 1000 stores in the United Kingdom, Spain, Republic of Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Australia, Denmark and the Netherlands. Specsavers acquired over 40 existing practices in Australia and has added to that portfolio planning to reach 150 by the end of 2008. This has been followed by a move into New Zealand, where the Group has announced plans to open 50-60 stores in the next two to three years, with the first opening by the end of 2008.

History and Market Position

Specsavers are a high street opticians, selling spectacles, contact lenses and hearing aids. The group was launched in 1984 by husband and wife team Doug Perkins and Mary Perkins and at the end of 2007 the group has over 1000 stores with 17,000 employees. As well as stores in the UK, they are present in the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Spain and most recently Australia. The company has ventured into hearing care 5 years ago. Their Hearing Centres division provides hearing tests and hearing aids within the Specsavers optical stores and has grown to become the UK's leading provider of digital hearing aids. [ [http://www.specsavers.co.uk/cgi-bin/strudwick.sh/s?langid=1&pfmt=1&siteid=39&pname=news/factfile.html specsavers.co.uk - "Fact File"] ] [ [http://www.specsavers.co.uk/specsavers_2005/images/news/annualreport2006.pdf specsavers.co.uk - Annual Report 2006] ]

Specsavers has a market share of over 35% share of all transactions within the opticians' market (GfK)in the UK and Republic of Ireland and aim to reach 50% before 2010, larger than any of its competitors. [ [http://www.specsavers.co.uk/cgi-bin/strudwick.sh/s?langid=1&pfmt=1&siteid=39&pname=news/factfile.html specsavers.co.uk - "Fact File"] ] Its main competitors in the UK are Dollond & Aitchison (D&A), Boots Opticians and Vision Express; see UK Opticians (retailers).

The co-founder of Specsavers, Mary Perkins, was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in 2007 in recognition of her services to business and the community in Guernsey.

Also in 2007 Finance Director John Perkins became Joint Managing Director with his father Doug Perkins.


In 2002 Specsavers spent over £20m on advertising, with television taking 62% of spending. Specsavers supported each of their stores through the use of local media, with local print press taking 16% of spending and local radio 7%. [ [http://www.newspapersoc.org.uk/Documents/Publications/case-studies/specsavers-sep02.htm The Newspaper Society - Specsavers Case Study, Sept. 2002] ]

In 2005 Specsavers won the Retail Week 2005 award for Marketing Campaign of the Year. [Retail Week Magazine]

In 2006 Specsavers was ranked 46 of the UK's 100 heaviest spenders on TV advertising, spending £27 million. [ [http://www.brandrepublic.com/bulletins/br/article/631561/top-100-advertisers-spend-less-tv/ Brand Republic - "Top 100 Advertisers Spend Less on TV"] ] Readers Digest magazine voted Specsavers the most trusted brand of opticians for the 5th year running. [Reader's Digest Magazine] The magazine surveyed people in 40 European Countries

Specsavers long running and successful advertising campaign is famously based on the strapline "Should've gone to Specsavers" which appears on the company's TV advertising. Conceived by Specsavers Creative Director Graham Daldry, the line has passed into the vernacular and has been heard on the lips of Chris Moyles, Jonathon Ross, and children in playgrounds all over the country.


Specsavers attracted some controversy after condemning Glasses Direct, a UK Internet retailer claiming that an internet service 'did not meet required standards' and 'could not offer advice from dispensing opticians' [ [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,6903,1446134,00.html Guardian Unlimited - "The man who found specs appeal on the web"] ]

In 2006 when James Murray Wells the Managing Director of Glasses Direct made claims that that four major high street retailers including Specsavers were 'leading a campaign to stop prescription glasses being sold over the internet'

After Wells sought election to the General Optical Council, arguing that Internet retailers and their customers needed representation. In response the Managing Director of Specsavers, Doug Perkins, wrote to Specsavers branches asking the company's opticians to rally round one of their own candidates "..candidates with the interests of hands-on, professional practitioners at heart". The General Optical Council has previously stated that it believes 'internet sales of glasses could pose a risk to "public safety" and its priority was maintaining high standards of eye care for the public, and not members commercial interests. Murray Wells withdrew from the election after it became clear he would not win a ballot. [ [http://news.independent.co.uk/business/news/article1996225.ece The Independent] ]

Charity work

Diabetes UK is Specsavers current adopted charity. Stores have raised over £170,000 to fund research and increase awareness of diabetes and retinopathy.International charities supported include Fight for Sight, Hearing Dogs and Vision Aid Overseas, with whom Specsavers is looking to fund an eye clinic in Zambia in 2008/9.


Specsavers operates most of their stores under a system which is called the 'Joint or Shared Venture Partnership'. This is similar to a franchise agreement between Specsavers and the franchisee; however, unlike many franchises, Specsavers stores work under the policy that 'any Specsavers customer is our customer', thereby meaning that a customer from one branch of Specsavers can expect to get equal service from another branch elsewhere. It also differs in that Specsavers own shares in the franchisee business rather than just providing goods and services under a franchise agreement. In newer territories such as Sweden, Norway and Spain, they operate a normal franchise agreement.

Relationship with Guernsey

The headquarters are based in Guernsey where the founding partners were resident when the company was formed.

Specsavers is the largest private employer on the island of Guernsey, providing 500 jobs. Guernsey is a crown dependency of the UK and has substantially different company reporting standards to the mainland, greatly reducing information available on Specsavers operations and profitability. [ [http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/retailing/article542186.ece Times Online - "The Andrew Davidson Interview: Specsavers founder in the frame"] ] Guernsey is considered a tax haven.

Business Strategy And Future

The Perkins have stated that they intend to maintain family control of the firm, which currently employs all three of their children in senior roles. Continued expansion into Europe is planned with the immediate aim of being the market dominating opticians in the Netherlands and Scandinavia. It is also intended that the company will become a leading supplier of hearing aids. The Perkin's attribute their success to their franchise model (see "Structure" in this article) and the opportunities created by de-regulation of the UK Opticians market by the Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1980's, allowing them to use previously forbidden advertising and marketing techniques to rapidly take over a market that had belonged to independent local opticians. The Perkins have stated regarding the remaining local opticians that "their days are numbered", and in fact their major competition now comes from large chains such as Boots The Chemist and Vision Express. [ [http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/retailing/article542186.ece Times Online - "The Andrew Davidson Interview: Specsavers founder in the frame"] ] .


External links

* [http://www.specsavers.com/ Specsavers portal site]
* [http://www.specsavers.co.uk/ Specsavers UK site]
* [http://www.specsavers.ie/ Specsavers Ireland site]
* [http://www.specsavershearcare.co.uk/ Specsavers Hearcare (UK) site]
* [http://www.theoptom.com/ A forum for optometry in the UK, including members from this company]

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