The acquisition of Vogue Optical added 65 stores to New Look Vision Group’s eastern Canadian presence, and the addition of Greiche & Scaff brought 50 stores to its Quebec network. Both companies continue to operate under their current banners.
The acquisitions solidified New Look Vision Group’s spot as the eye care industry leader in eastern Canada with a network of 193 stores and two lens-processing facilities. The company’s revenue is approximately $180 million and it is the second-largest Canadian integrated retail optical company as well as the eighth largest in North America. But there are no plans to stand still, he says.
“Our vision is to keep consolidating the market,” Amiel says. “There are ongoing consolidation opportunities. We are monitoring every opportunity that comes up. It’s really a process of evaluation. We do very, very extensive due diligence. We go into incredible depth.”
Plans call for future acquisitions to give the company a presence in western Canada, Amiel says. Currently, the company does not have stores in Calgary, Edmonton or Vancouver, for example.
“We have plenty of room to grow,” he says.
Clearly, the opportunity for more acquisitions exists. Approximately 56 percent of Canada’s optical stores are owned and operated by independent retailers. The acquisitions of Vogue and Greiche & Scaff make New Look Vision Group an attractive company for eyecare professionals to join, Amiel says.
Acquisitions are not New Look Vision Group’s sole focus, Amiel points out. The company continually examines other ingredients for long-term success. “What is most important to consumers is convenience,” he says.
Additionally, customers place a priority on complete service and quality of care from experienced professionals. “People have a high expectation of service,” Amiel says. They also place a premium on thorough exams and a wide selection of frames. On-time delivery and follow-up services, if needed, also are important. “We keep in touch with our customers,” he says.
All New Look Vision Group stores work with independent optometrists, who practice either within or adjacent to the store, and provide a variety of eye care services. Licensed opticians, meanwhile, work in the stores to help customers with lens, frames and other needs. The partnerships with optometrists as well as the opticians on staff are a major competitive advantage because New Look Vision Group can provide the complete range of optical services to its clients, Amiel says.
The company also strives to increase its selection of designer frames in an effort to provide consumers with the widest range of styles available. New Look offers specially tailored and manufactured lenses with features such as anti-scratch/reflective films, UV protection, polarization and photochromic properties, Amiel says.
New Look Vision Group relies heavily on advertising to attract customers. People who wear glasses typically buy a new pair approximately every three years, so New Look Vision Group wants to be foremost in their minds when the time comes for the next purchase, Amiel says. “Our advertising is targeted at tomorrow’s buyer,” he says. “Advertising is a call to action.”
The company has a “heavy presence on television” and also advertises online and in print. “It’s a very big component of our success,” Amiel says.
New Look Vision Group employees are positioned “at the crossroads of healthcare and retail,” Amiel says. “The mission is to help people see better. The minute they put on a pair of glasses is a magical moment. It’s a good feeling that’s embodied by everybody here.”
New Look Vision Group makes considerable investments in employees and hires only individuals who it believes will make long-term commitments to the company. “We shy away from people not in it for the long haul,” Amiel says. “Turnover in a retail operation is the enemy.” Management and company executives have optical industry backgrounds. “Everybody had extensive experience in the industry,” Amiel says.
A History of Growth
New Look was founded in 1986 in Quebec City and expanded throughout Quebec before entering the Ontario market in 1994. A central distribution center and lens-manufacturing facility were added in 2002, making New Look the first vertically integrated optical retailer in Canada, Amiel says.
Expansion over the following decade brought New Look Vision Group store count to 70 by 2012.
During that time, the company invested in new stores, store upkeep, optometric facilities and equipment and lens manufacturing.