Essilor Acquires Majority Stake in EyeBuyDirect.com

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DALLAS— In a move that broadens its presence in the internet e-commerce realm, particularly in the international arena, Essilor has acquired a majority stake in EyeBuyDirect.com, VMail has learned.

EyeBuyDirect, founded in 2005 by Roy Hessel, CEO, is a leader in the online space with operations in China, Hong Kong and the U.S., and the company delivers eyeglasses to customers around the world. Hessel will continue in his role as CEO of EyeBuyDirect with the acquisition.

“At Essilor, we embrace the internet as a wonderful tool to provide access to vision correction to the largest number of people worldwide,” John Carrier, president and CEO Essilor of America, told VMail. “However, we do not believe it should act as a replacement for visiting an eyecare professional.” Carrier described the EyeBuyDirect.com stake, the terms of which were undisclosed, as a way to “provide Essilor with a more robust international reach with mid-range offerings and an extension of our capabilities to reach a global market.”

In 2010, Essilor acquired a majority stake in FramesDirect.com, which is more heavily geared to a branded eyewear presence. FramesDirect is headed by founders Dhavid Cooper, OD and Guy Hodgson, OD. That acquisition, Carrier pointed out, “allowed us to secure the technology needed to deploy MyOnlineOptical.com to eyecare professionals.” Carrier noted, “The acquisition of EyeBuyDirect will enable us, in the near future, to also boost the MyOnlineOptical.com platform, by including lower-cost corrective vision options that ECPs have communicated are a missing piece of the existing portfolio.”

Carrier added that MyOnlineOptical.com is currently supporting over 1,000 ECPs in the U.S., and told VMail that an updated version of this service will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Carrier also said, “Essilor’s mission is to improve vision for the largest number of people around the globe. Depending on the geography, this mission takes shape in different ways. We believe that this business decision will help us and our customers to better achieve this mission in different parts of the world.”

Further, he added, “The patient experience and expectations change as quickly as the internet changes, and it will become increasingly important for ECPs to embrace an omni-channel strategy, employing e-commerce and mobile to complement the traditional shopping experience of a brick-and-mortar setting. Essilor is committed to providing those services that will ensure ECPs have the opportunity to be competitive in this space.”