10th November 1983
Guernsey optician Specsavers was founded
Not only is Specsavers the biggest optician in the UK – it’s one of the largest in the world. Guernsey-based Specsavers Optical Group Limited was founded on 10 November 1983. Its activities are listed as “Fund, investment, securities and asset management, administration, registrars, custodians/trustees, stockbrokers”.
Specsavers was launched by Doug and Mary Perkins and now has more than 1600 stores as far apart and Finland, Norway, Australia and New Zealand.
The company has been kept in the family. However, the optical stores bearing its name are not 100% owned by the company. They aren’t franchise operations, though, as the parent brand does own shares in them. However, they are generally established as related, distinct businesses. The involvement of the central Specsavers group ensures that customers can switch between branches should they choose.
The business model has been such a success that Specscavers has captured more than 40% of the UK market and Mary Perkins has become Britain’s first self-made billionaire.
A global business
The combined chain employs more than 30,000 people and sells glasses from a range of designers alongside its own. Third party brands carried in its stores include Quicksilver, Converse and Hackett, while those tied to celebrity brands include Kylie Minogue, Jeff Banks and Will.I.Am.
Specsavers is headquartered at La Villiaze, St Andrews, on the perimeter of Guernsey Airport’s land. Its building had originally been constructed for electronics manufacturer Tektronix, which was once a major employer on the island.