MASON, Ohio—Pearle Vision said this week that it has finalized a new five-location store development agreement (SDA) with current multi-unit franchisee Bill Noble, chief executive of West Point Optical Group. Noble has been a franchisee with Pearle Vision since 2014, according to the announcement. Four of the locations are existing independent optical practices in the Birmingham, Ala., market (Pinson, Pelham, Gardendale and Vestavia Hills) and will be converted through the brand’s Ignite program. (Ignite allows independent practice owners to retain ownership of their business while strengthening it with infrastructure improvements from Pearle Vision, according to the announcement.)

The fifth location is a new Pearle Vision EyeCare Center in Boulder, Colo. Noble continues to be Pearle Vision’s largest franchise owner with more than 70 EyeCare Centers, including locations in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“As a multi-unit owner with Pearle Vision, I can speak to the value of the systems that the brand has put in place,” Noble said. “When you are looking to grow, particularly across multiple markets, the support and expertise that Pearle Vision provides to its franchise owners is critical. From brand recognition and a national marketing program to a product supply chain, these systems have enabled my team to be successful and allowed us to continue to grow.”

Pearle Vision—a division of the Luxottica Retail Group—continues to see the Ignite independent optometry practice conversion model gain momentum from both new and existing franchise owners, the announcement noted. Ignite was launched with the intention of providing a strong alternative amid growing consolidation in the eyecare industry.
With cost and operational pressures mounting for independents, selling to private equity and regional ownership groups has become increasingly prevalent, Pearle Vision noted. The group’s Ignite program is designed to allow optometry practice owners to remain independent as franchisees while strengthening their businesses.

“Pearle Vision provides investors the opportunity to grow through a variety of avenues,” Alex Wilkes, general manager of Pearle Vision, said. “In the case of Bill Noble, he’s taken advantage of both new store development and our Ignite practice conversion offer to expand his portfolio. Now, more than ever, our concept has proven to be an attractive opportunity for franchise investors, like Bill and West Point Optical Group, looking to grow with an established brand in a sustainable-demand category.”

Two independent optometry practices were converted to Pearle Vision franchise locations through the brand’s Ignite program in the past year with 12 more conversions in process and expected to be completed in 2021.

There are currently roughly 550 Pearle Vision EyeCare Centers located throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.