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Players Advance to New Positions Within VM’s Latest Top 50 Report

By Marge Axelrad
Monday, May 15, 2017 12:29 AM

NEW YORK—Acquisitions and consolidations, fueled by challenges faced by independent practices and some regional retail leaders, as well as the involvement of private equity investment, are reshaping the U.S. optical industry.

As a result, there is a new positioning among the top players within the 2017 Vision Monday Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailer’s Report, which assesses rankings based on 2016 calendar year sales.

Vision Source, a franchisor with 3,344 locations, reported collective revenues of $2,632 million in 2016, bringing it to the number 1 position on Vision Monday’s list for the first time.

Luxottica Retail, which has held that top spot, is number 2, as the company strategically re-evaluated its mix, design and approach in the U.S., closing certain underperforming stores, many within Sears’ locations, and embarking on a store refurbishment and new store design for LensCrafters, expansion at Target, the focus on Pearle as the neighborhood eye doctor and a realignment of its higher end stores.

The pending merger of Essilor, which acquired Vision Source in late 2015, and Luxottica Group, both major international players in the optical/vision care space, herald plans to integrate the two businesses, although executives at both firms say that reality is several years away and no one is yet sure how this will manifest on the retail side of their businesses.

Wal-Mart Stores maintained its number 3 spot through vision centers at Walmart and those within Sam’s Club.

National Vision held to number 4 with a significant estimated 18 percent to 20 percent revenue gain on top of an 80+ store expansion; in fact, NVI broke the $1 billion barrier with estimated sales of $1.15 billion for the year, according to VM Estimates.

Costco also added more optical departments, reaching $961 million in sales in 2016 while HVHC’s Visionworks of America national chain grew to 748 locations across the country and revenues of nearly $918 million.

MyEyeDr./Capital Vision Services continued its expansion pace, as significant new acquisitions of regional groups as well as the integration of dozens of smaller independent practices came into the fold. MyEyeDr. grew to nearly 320 locations by the end of 2016 with collective sales of $411 million in that period.

Backed by Acon Investments, Refac Optical Group remains committed to operating optical departments within host environments such as J.C. Penney, Boscov’s, Meijer’s, Sears and BJ’s clubs. It is growing its presence within the Hudson’s Bay stories with its new agreement to open at least two Saks Fifth Avenue optical locations this year. And its Nationwide Vision Centers operations continues to grow.

FFL’s investment has helped to fuel aggressive expansion from EyeCare Partners LLC. EyeCare Partners’ collective sales in 2016 reached $275 million from 230 locations, more than double what they were at the end of 2015, bringing them from number 11 up to number 9 this year.

Eyemart Express, Ltd, with sales of $245 million from its 182 locations in 2016, is also backed by FFL Partners, though run separately. That group, rounds out the Top 10.

maxelrad@jobson.com

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