Q&A: Does Vision Express Franchise in the UK?

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With over half of the UK population wearing glasses, eyewear stores are big business in the UK. If you fancy a career change and can see yourself working in the retail sector, why not consider starting an optometry business? Today we find out if its possible to run a Vision Express franchise in the UK.

Vision Express offers eye tests, glasses frames and lenses, sunglasses and contact lenses for men, women and children. Consumers know that they can find exclusive ranges at this eyecare store, from designer brands such as Mulberry, Ray-Ban and DC Comics Kids. Vision Express is proud to support a range of charities in the healthcare industry, including the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT) and the International Glaucoma Association.

Vision Express was launched in Newcastle in 1988 and has built a substantial presence across the UK. It now has over 575 stores and employs more than 4,000 people. Its popularity has also enabled it to become a global retailer, known as GrandVision. It operates more than 6,000 stores across 44 countries, as well as an informative website, where customers can browse the brand’s product selection. But can you start a Vision Express franchise in the UK?

History of Vision Express

Over three decades ago, Vision Express launched its first store in the MetroCentre in Gateshead. Through organic growth and acquisition, it has since expanded to hundreds of locations including big cities and the local high street. In 2017 it acquired Tesco Opticians, so you can now find the brand in large Tesco stores. Last year it started its online retail journey and started to offer sunglasses and contact lenses for sale online.

Does Vision Express franchise in the UK?

Unfortunately, Vision Express does not operate a franchise model at the moment. However, if you would you like to work in the eyecare business, you could get involved with its Joint Venture business opportunity.

How to get involved with Vision Express

With this partnership scheme, you can open your own Vision Express store and have access to all the latest optical technology, in-house specialists and support that standard Vision Express stores get.

The business wants its partners to succeed, and it understands the level of guidance it must provide in order to ensure this. That’s why its support centre is always “just a phone call away” if you’re ever in need of advice or assistance.

The business states that many of its joint venture partners are former Vision Express retail managers and optical professionals, so there’s no need to be an entrepreneur with bags of experience to lead your own Vision Express store. More than 120 optical and retail experts have already taken Vision Express up on its joint venture offer, and their stores score an average customer rating of 91 percent overall, so don’t be discouraged if you would you like to join the company as a business partner. Click here to find out more.

Jay, Joint Venture Partner of five stores:

Vision Express has given me the chance to influence change and help shape the future of the profession.

The eyewear business market in the UK

You might be surprised to learn that 69 percent of people in the UK wear glasses. This figure is 20 percent above the European average of 48 percent, giving the UK the third highest number of glasses wearers across the continent, just behind Slovakia at 85 percent, and Serbia at 70 percent. In 2017/18, 13 million NHS eye tests were conducted and the market value for eyewear rose to £4.5 billion.

Vision Express is one of the most profitable businesses in this industry, classed as the third largest optical retailer in the UK.

Similar franchise opportunites

Although it isn’t currently possible to own a Vision Express franchise, there are a number of other eyewear stores offering franchising opportunites. While there are many eyewear brands in the UK, there are currently only two offering franchising opportunites. Let’s look at these in more detail now.

1. Leightons

Established in 1928, Leightons is a family business that has been passed on through the generations. Providing a fantastic customer experience is immensely important to this business, which believes that it is competent service and friendly interactions that keep its customers coming back time and time again. In 1997, Leightons introduced its franchise model, which has helped it expand to 34 different territories across the South of England.

  • Becoming a Leightons franchisee: If you are interested in joining the business, there are three different options for you to consider. You don’t have to become a franchisee; you could alternatively initiate a joint venture or a shared ownership agreement to start your own Leightons store. Click here to find out more.
  • How much you need to invest: If you opt to start a franchise with Leightons, you should be prepared to make a minimum investment of around £135,000. You will also need to pay franchise fees of £20,000 to cover everything from the use of Leightons’ business model and brand name, to training and ongoing guidance.
  • What you get for your investment: Of course, you should bear in mind that the investment requirements, contractual obligations and level of support on offer will differ slightly with each type of business partnership, but Leightons will always provide quality support in order to ensure the success of your business – and the reputation of the brand as a whole. You’ll receive training and support with sales, marketing and business operations.

2. Boots Opticians

Boots is one of the most recognisable brands in the country and the largest retail optical franchise in the UK. This gives it several advantages over competitors. Founded by John Boot in 1849, the Nottingham-based business grew slowly over the next century. By 1984, it had reached Peterborough, Leeds, Luton and Derby, and the business was bought out in 1987. Over the next three decades, Boots would expand across the country and become one of the country's best-loved brands.

  • Becoming a Boots Opticians franchisee: It’s looking for entrepreneurs who are business minded and eager to share their passion for the industry with the local community. Click here to get started.
  • How much you need to invest: You'll need to raise around £200,000. The franchise fee is set at £10,000 and is valid for a franchise term of 20 years. For the shop fitting, franchisees can expect to pay between £160,000 and £200,000, depending on the location and size of the store.
  • What you get for your investment: In return, franchisees will receive help with drafting their business plan, acquiring a property, fitting the shop and selecting products. All franchisees are provided with intensive training and receive the support of the experienced franchisor team throughout the set-up process.

Rahil Saggar, Franchise Partner, Cheadle:

The brand is deeply respected by the public and the management team are fully supportive. As a Franchise Partner you can't ask for more and is why I am looking forward to opening my third practice later this year!

See another one of articles dedicated to exploring the Boots Opticians franchise opportunity in depth here.

Start an eyecare franchise today

If you’re like to learn more about what you need to know to start an optician franchise, click here. You can also see another one of our articles in the ‘Q&A’ series that explores whether lead UK eyewear store Specsavers offers franchising opportunites.

>> Read more articles on the Optical sector

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