VANCOUVER—Specsavers, a leading international optometrist-owned and led business that recently entered Canada, said this week that it plans to continue this expansion effort by investing in independent optometrists and opticians by covering 100 percent of their start-up costs as new Specsavers locations across the country. The plan is to invest $100 million (Canadian) in the Canadian expansion while creating 2,000 jobs. The company said that this “unprecedented decision” is intended to boost clinic and optical store ownership by independent optometrists and opticians in Canada, and to help them achieve success while remaining autonomous and competitive.

Specsavers said in mid-October that it planned to “become a market leader and open more than 200 locally owned stores across Canada by 2024,” as VMAIL reported.
“There is no other way to achieve the best patient care than to ensure independence and autonomy of optometrists and opticians,” Bill Moir, general manager, Specsavers Canada, said in the announcement this week. “At a time when we’re seeing more and more consolidation in the Canadian market with independent optometrists and opticians being encouraged to sell their practices to a handful of larger players, we intend to reverse that trend and offer an alternative that enables them to own a thriving business, have access to cutting-edge technology and put their patients first.”
The announcement noted these details about Specsavers’ planned partnerships with independent optometrists and opticians:
  • Optometry partners retain all the billings generated by their optometry clinic, and retail partners receive a competitive salary from the optical store. Both optometry and retail partners will also receive an equal share of the profits generated by the optical store. 
  • Optometry partners will receive a fully integrated clinic, fitted with advanced technology and equipment, while the retail partners will receive a newly designed Specsavers store with a range of over 1,500 high quality frames.
With this offer, Canadian optometrist and opticians will have an accessible opportunity to become Specsavers clinic or optical storeowners as the cost of establishing each location, which averages $500,000, will be covered in full by Specsavers, according to the announcement. Optometry and retail partners will begin receiving earnings generated by both the optometry clinic and the optical store "right away," it noted.
Separately, Specsavers recently reported annual revenue for the year ended in February 2021 totaling £2.73 billion, which represented a 5.8 percent decline compared with the previous year (which would have been pre-pandemic). However, revenue increased 8.8 percent on a comparable basis in the second half of the fiscal year ended last February, the report said. The company’s largest market, by far, was the U.K., where revenue totaled £1.419.6 billion.
The company said it sold 17.9 million frames in the fiscal year, and recorded sales of 530.5 million contact lenses. Overall, Specsavers operated 2,293 optical and audiology locations at fiscal year's end, with 35,500 employees serving 41 million customers worldwide. It receives 1.8 million visitors to its website every week, the announcement noted.

Specsavers' current operations include 3,250 optometry and retail partners who look after the eye health of over 41 million customers within the U.K, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Northern Europe, Spain—and now Canada.
With respect to its Canadian expansion, Specsavers said it is seeking passionate optometrists and opticians who share the company’s purpose of providing accessible, quality eyecare to all. By covering all establishment costs, Specsavers said that while the investment will enable these independent ODs to start their clinic and optical store debt-free, the plan also supports their career progression with a variety of development initiatives as they grow their business.
Challenging the trend of market consolidation with this investment, Specsavers said it will put its focus on empowering optometrists and opticians to remain independent. By prioritizing community care, Specsavers said it enables its partners to put their patients first, while offering best value eyewear to customers.
“Our supportive partnership model has been the driving force behind the success story of Specsavers for 40 years, and we are invested in helping our partners prosper and deliver the best eyecare possible,” Moir added. “Specsavers is a company of people who work together to improve the lives of all. We are incredibly excited for Canadians to see the benefit of our tried-and-true partnership model as we expand beyond British Columbia in the next couple of years.”
Optometrists and opticians who want to learn more about how they can access this opportunity at Specsavers should visit the site at Opportunities are currently available in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, with more to follow as Specsavers continues to expand in Canada.