Port Melbourne, Australia (PressExposure) May 19, 2009 -- From a standing start of just one store in February 2008, the company is forecasting $200 million revenue in CY'09.
In less than twelve months of trading, Specsavers has become the number two and fastest growing optical retailer in Australia.
According to Specsavers founder, Mr Doug Perkins, now based in Melbourne, the company also plans to create 200 new jobs this year, as part of a newly leased manufacturing and operational facility in Port Melbourne. The investment in the MCG-size, 13,000 sq m (140,000 sq feet) facility caps a stunning first year of operations for the optical retailer in Australia.
"The new Port Melbourne facility is only the beginning of our expansion into the Australian market," said Mr Perkins. "We aim to further invest in the Australian economy by undertaking as much manufacturing in this country as possible."
Specsavers and its partners - community based local optometrists - opened 153 stores across the country in 2008, and plan at least another 50 this year.
"Specsavers' commitment to bringing the highest quality glasses and service to Australia, while delivering on its promise of lower prices, has struck a chord with the Australian consumer," Mr Perkins said.
"Before entering this market we knew that Australians wanted change. Our research showed that consumers of eyewear in this country were crying out for greater transparency around pricing, more choice and better value.
"The price of glasses is of great importance to more than 11 million Australians, even more so in current economic conditions. Yet, eye care is overpriced and underused in Australia. Our aim is to address this disparity by bringing intense competition to the market, which will lead our competitors to drive down their prices."
Specsavers has responded to the increased uncertainty being felt by consumers, by last week launching a new price point - now offering a $59 frame and lens package in all stores nationally. "We're committed to offering customers the best deal and unbeatable value" said Mr. Perkins.
"Through the absolute professionalism and passion of those optometrists who have come on board so far, we have been able to do something quite special and revolutionary for Australian consumers" said Mr Perkins. "We've been able to give them real choice and a better deal," he said.
Mr Perkins said that despite the state of the economy, Specsavers' partners had experienced a significant increase in store volumes over the last year.
"The Specsavers retail proposition has always done well in harsh economic times. As well as our offer of 'two pairs for one low price, always', which is very quickly understood and adopted by consumers, our purchasing power enables our partners to keep costs consistently low and competitive.
"We have rolled out Specsavers in ten countries now. In every country, there has been huge acceptance and positive reaction to the rollout and our offer. But, in the 25 years we've been in business, we have not seen the kind of growth that we are seeing here in Australia. We now have more than 1 million Australian customers on our database, in just 12 months and we intend to double and triple that number in the coming years," he continued.
Mr Perkins touched on some operational highlights of last year and forecasts for '09:
â¢ Specsavers Australia opened 153 stores before the end of December 2008 â¢ More than 260 local optometrists joined the Specsavers group in Australia â¢ 1.1 million customers on Specsavers' Australian database â¢ More than 850 employed in Specsavers' Australian network, including its glazing laboratory in Port Melbourne â¢ In 2009, Specsavers expects to conduct half a million eye tests and sell one million pairs of glasses â¢ Sold 438,000 pairs of glasses (on an annualised basis) â¢ Specsavers' Australian partners returned an average revenue growth of 40 per cent, on their pre-conversion figures
The new Port Melbourne facility will see Specsavers' manufacturing, business development, professional services, marketing, retail operations and call centres all head quartered in the one building.
The state-of-the art complex will also be the home of the first 'Specsavers Training Academy", which will be replicated in other states. Academies will offer a full working model store, equipment piloting facility, lecture theatre and workshop room, in step with the company's fully functional career development and training programs.
Mr Perkins said that the "go-live" date for the new facility was slated for mid 2009.