Specsavers Franchise - Is it a Franchise Business?

25/04/2019 16:30 | Franchise business profiles


Originally posted on 27/10/2018. Updated on 25/04/2019

Research has indicated that Britain has become a nation of glasses wearers, with those with 20/20 vision being the minority. Six out of ten of us rely on corrective eyewear or contact lenses (Daily Mail).

The Opticians Industry at a Glance

The UK opticians industry generates roughly 4.4 billion in revenue every year, comprises 4,449 businesses and employs 62,659 people (IBISWorld). It is also thought that there has been a 1.5 percent annual growth from 2014 to 2019.

Opticians carry out eye tests, fit and sell frames, contact lenses, prescription lenses, and some even provide hearing checks. Over recent years, the sector has seen a modest yet steady growth in revenue. This can be partly attributed to the British public becoming more health-conscious and therefore being more aware of their eye health. This therefore increases the amount of people opting to have their eyes checked.

The surge in our use of internet services and devices with internet access increases how much time we dedicate to staring at bright screens. This in turn increases the prevalence of eye damage and sees more and more people seeking relief from dry eyes and Computer Vision Syndrome.

Many opticians gain the body of their revenue from selling frames. Advancements in technology has allowed frames to be lighter and comfier, and fashion trends have pushed forward the demand for unique frames and having more than one pair to match an outfit. Therefore, it isnt surprising that the global eyewear industry is thought to value £74 billion (The Guardian). Also, with an increasing number of designer labels and celebrities bringing out an eyewear range to compensate for todays fashion-conscious society, the opticians industry is booming and there has never been a better time to get involved and start your own opticians franchise.

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Who is Specsavers?

You dont have to walk far down a British high street to see - or not see - the green Specsavers logo in the distance. It is one of the most recognisable UK brands and a leader in the optical industry, as demonstrated by commanding a 42 percent market share. With its humorous should have gone to Specsavers adverts and nationwide presence, the brand has become somewhat like a national institution.

It was founded by husband and wife Doug and Mary Perkins in 1984 and has grown vastly since its humble beginnings. In 2017/2018, Specsavers has an annual turnover of £2.6 billion (Specsavers Annual Review 2017/2018). There are 1,978 branches in the UK, Jersey, Ireland, Guernsey, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Australia, Spain and New Zealand (Specsavers Annual Report 2018).

Specsavers rapid nationwide and global expansion could be attributed to adopting the franchise model. But it isnt as clear cut as that; take a look below to see whether Specsavers is a franchise business.

Is Specsavers a franchise?

Strictly speaking, Specsavers cant be classified as a franchise, despite sharing many similarities with a franchise business. Alternatively, the brand has adopted an organisational structure referred to as a joint venture partnership or a shared venture partnership. This type of structure does have some characteristics of a franchise agreement. However, there are some fundamental differences between them, which will be examined below.

What is a joint venture partnership?

A joint venture partnership (JVP) is an agreement between two or more business entities for the purpose of a specific project or business activity. The two parties agree to work together and share the costs, profits, associated risks and rewards that arise from said business activity. The primary function of a joint venture is to encourage the rapid expansion of a business, which explains why it was adopted by Specsavers. A mutually beneficial relationship can be created by combing two partners with different skills and uniting them as one.

So, what does this mean in reality?

Individuals make an initial investment to become a partner and, in return, they receive training, resources and guidance from Specsavers JVP team. Specsavers and the partners each have a share of the business. Often, this type of partnership will involve a retail manager and a training optometrist coming together to run the business.

How does this differ from a franchise?

JVPs provide business owners with more freedom. Franchisees generally have to abide by the franchisors business model with little room to make changes to how that branch is run. Specsavers partners, on the other hand, have more control over the management of the branch which allows them to adapt to customer demand and the market.

Investing in a franchise generally means paying an ongoing royalty fee to the franchisor, but this is not the case with a Specsavers JVP. Specsavers owns shares in each of the branches licences to provide services under their brand name. The only omissions to this are in some of Specsavers overseas locations, which have adopted a traditional franchise agreement to structure the company in the most appropriate way.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a joint venture partnership?

Like a franchise agreement, JVPs are beneficial because they connect individuals who have specific, local expertise and business experience with companies who have the financial resources and power to realise the partners business aspirations.

With that being said, JVPs can form an imbalanced working relationship or two contrasting personalities which will make running the business more difficult. However, if a smart recruitment process is implemented, the likelihood of this occurring is significantly reduced.

How do I join Specsavers?

If becoming a Specsavers partner sounds like an exciting opportunity, head to the Specsavers website and register your interest with the Partner Recruitment team. If you have been previously employed by the brand or are optically trained, you may be eligible for the Pathway programme.

The application process will be kicked off by a telephone interview to assess your suitability to the role. There are four speciality partnership roles you can work towards with Specsavers: retail partner, optical partner, domiciliary partner and hearcare partner.

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