Simon Jones: Forty pennies for your thoughts
Author: Yiannis Kotoulas
It’s a been a significant week for the business side of the sector, with two pieces of news that will reverberate for quite some time.
In mainland Europe, EssilorLuxottica’s proposed €7.1bn acquisition of GrandVision was rubber stamped by European Commission competition regulators. Some 350 practices and retailers in Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands will have to be divested as part of the approval but given EssilorLuxottica will be adding an estimated 7,200 extra doors around the world as a result of the deal, I don’t think the company will mind too much.
It’s GrandVision’s control of Vision Express that will be of particular interest to practitioners here in the UK. Although several ‘non-essential’ practices were closed at the beginning of the pandemic, EssilorLuxottica will be adding nearly 600 doors to its retail portfolio. Both Essilor and Luxottica will have had difficult conversations with their independent customers as a result of acquisitions and e-commerce growth in recent years, and I imagine both are getting their rep and marketing teams prepared for another charm offensive.
EssilorLuxottica will also be able to reap the benefits of an increased GOS sight test fee – news that was announced by the Optometric Fees Negotiating Committee (OFNC) last week to a chorus of boos from the profession.
But every penny counts in the world of optical behemoths, and as part of the first increase since 2015, their practices can enjoy 40 extra pennies from each sight test. I’m terrible at maths, but if they can squeeze in 15 NHS sights each day, they’ll earn an extra £6. If you’re one of the disgruntled ‘little guys,’ you’re more likely to view the increase as a year-on-year average of around 8p.
Someone close to the OFNC once told me the committee actually deserved praise for staving off proposed cuts to GOS remuneration. I’m not sure how much praise is out there at the moment.