In focus: Essilor commits to digital retail portfolio expansion

Essilor is a company that likes to expand through acquisitions, but an increasing number of these purchases are in the retail space. Simon Jones looks at the recent additions to its portfolio and considers whether Essilor is now a competitor to the optician as well as a supplier

Last week online eye care retailer Vision Direct added sunglasses to its product offering (News 10.06.16) in the UK, a move which the company’s CEO Michael Kraftman described as the first part of an exciting transformation after becoming part of the Essilor family.

This ‘Essilor family’ has increased significantly in recent years. The company’s recently published annual report for 2015-16 revealed that Essilor International had made 19 acquisitions in 2015 alone, adding aggregate additional annual revenue of €214m. Its interest in online retailing, which many opticians consider to be their competition, has also grown significantly.

In the report, the company said it wanted to get ‘closer to the consumer’ in an effort to better understand the visual needs of the 7.2bn people worldwide that need vision correction and said it plans to do so in a variety of ways. Boosting brand communication and strengthening its online presence were two of the ways the company planned to reach more people, while at the same time, ‘supporting ECPs’.

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