Covered in this report
In recent years we have seen the opticians market concentrate into the hands of fewer but larger businesses. Three major chains dominate the market, Specsavers, Vision Express and Boots Opticians. Market leader Specsavers has continued to add to its already high store numbers in the UK and opened its 900th outlet in 2019, Vision Express took a leap forward when it bought Tesco Opticians at the end of 2017 and Boots Opticians continues to benefit from its strong heritage brand. But competition remains fierce, as online sellers build momentum, particularly in the contact lens sector. In retailing new entrants promise to deliver their own stylish designs at prices that undercut the brands.
In 2019 the market for optical goods and services grew by 3% to reach £3,339 million, helped by growth in the population, the ageing population and the ability of opticians to add value to sales with products such as varifocal spectacle lenses. The market for contact lenses, within this total, benefited from innovation including varifocal lenses and healthier, more comfortable materials.
“This is a highly concentrated sector, dominated by three major retail brands. Specsavers has been mopping up independent retailers and has now reached 900 UK outlets, raising the question of how much more growth is realistic for this highly successful business. Vision Express took a leap forward with the acquisition of Tesco Opticians in 2017, bringing its store numbers up to almost 600, and Boots Opticians continues to benefit from the heritage strength of its parent company brand. More than 100 independents have taken shelter by joining the Hakim Group and only a handful of smaller chains demonstrate an appetite for growth. Meanwhile the long-awaited growth of online selling is becoming a reality. Shopping online for contact lenses can offer considerable savings, but none of the healthcare that an optician delivers, while online selling of glasses is beginning to benefit from digital developments that allow customers to visualise how they will look in their glasses.”
– Jane Westgarth, Senior Retail Analyst
This report examines the following issues:
- Online selling is building momentum
- New wave of opticians with personality and a DTC model
- What is the relevance of supermarkets in optics?