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Gloucestershire Business News

Specsavers sees pathway to slim profit

Optical and audio retail giant Specsavers has filed its latest yearly accounts with mixed results.

The franchise group, which has more than 2,000 partnerships, saw turnover climb by 1.1% to £3.42bn, while operating profit fell by up to 39%, to £326m. The figures also showed an operating margin that had narrowed to 9.5%, against a figure of 13.4% for the same period (to the end of February) in 2022.

Specsavers, who hit Punchline headlines with a £650K relocation move  in Stroud earlier this month and who plan to open a Tetbury store soon , also have two outlets in Cheltenham and one apiece in Gloucester and Tewkesbury.

Latest figures, said the eyewear specialist, come amid a "challenging macro economic landscape", not least a decision to absorb inflationary price increases and shield customers from price hikes, while also moving on a "significant upfront investment" for the launch and further growth of business in Canada. Spending on technology to enhance its online and in-store experience was also a factor.

On the heels of these figures, Specsavers has issued an intermim £15m dividend to its Guernsey-based parent company, no payouts having been approved in the previous year.

Specsavers said in a statement: "It is essential that the business responds appropriately to the economic challenges that we are facing. The combination of continued inflationary pressures and economic uncertainty impacting our customers means that we are more mindful than ever of the difference we can make in our communities by offering best-value products and professional clinical care to everyone."

Launched in Guernsey in 1984 by optometrists Mary Perkins (73) and her husband, Doug (74), by 2012 Specsavers had become the biggest of the four major opticians, with a 42% share of the market. By 2018, it had 2,111 branches throgh franchise partnerships across the UK, Europe and further afield in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Mrs Perkins was honoured as a Dame in 2007.

Dame Mary subsequently became Britain's first self-made female billionaire when The Sunday Times Rich List estimated the couple's wealth in 2011 at £1,150bn, placing them as 56th in the list of Britain's wealthiest people.

With stores owned and operated by Specsavers' partners, the parent company has a controlling stake in each business, charges for back-office operation and also sells its products into the retail offer.

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