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Opchat Magazine General NewsGeneral News, January to March 2017


Shamir launches their Challenge Us campaign at Optrafair 2017!
Obituary:Mr Leonard Gibbison Hillier F.B.C.O.
And the customer service award goes to Essilor.
SILMO announce death of their organising President.
Today is NO Smoking Day, read the College's advice.
AIO plans meetings that provide direct questions for Independents to answer in defense of their profession.
The COCO SONG AWARD: Announces the 5 finalists of the talented young designers competition.
EU Court decision gives visually impaired and blind people access to more published works.
Essilor launches £5m Varilux campaign.
Optegra Eye Health Care reports a satisfactory weekend's work at 100% Optical which is reprinted in our postscript show report.
BLACKFIN – “SKY’S THE LIMIT” is the title theme of the new 2017 CAMPAIGN
Final countdown to AOP Awards 2017.
Shamir UK celebrates the New year with a new campaign and certification of the BS EN ISO 9001: 2015!
Largest frame and lens companies to merge in $49 Billion deal. (46 Billion Euros).
Last chance for entering the Opticians Awards 2017.

Shamir launches their Challenge Us campaign at Optrafair 2017!

March 2017

Len Gibbison
Shamir Optical Industry, established in 1972, encapsulates 3 paramount beliefs: providing great service and support, producing supreme quality products and implementing great value for money with some of the most competitive prices on the market. These three factors, encapsulated into one redefining lens, ensures the Recreation of Perfect Vision for any individual regardless of lifestyle, age or prescription.

At Optrafair, we are launching our national campaign ‘Challenge US’. It works simply by a comparison of your current bill and you can see how much you can save with Shamir.

Register your interest by inputting your details via our website after Optrafair and we’ll do the rest!

Also at Optrafair, we will be demonstrating our extensive lens portfolio and measuring equipment whilst proving our products hold the value and quality to transform any business.

To talk to us in person regarding our new campaign and how we can help you and your business, come to stand D60 and will be delighted to share our knowledge.

Expect to see our Award-Winning SPARK Mi at its best, including full demonstrations of the workings and logistics as we answer your every question, and enter our competitions over the 3 days, sponsored by Transitions®, for the possibility of winning a Fit Bit Blaze, Amazon Echo or a £250 Shamir voucher.

Competition times will be held every day at 12:30pm and 3pm. Remember: you must be present to win the prize!

Shamir’s universal approach is to continually provide redefining lenses but also extensive knowledge, experience and care within the optical industry. We care because you care.

Obituary: Mr. Leonard Gibbison Hillier F.B.C.O.

March 2017

Mr Leonard Gibbison Hillier F.B.C.O. 7th May 1937 - 11th March 2017.

The death of Optometrist Leonard Gibbison Hillier F.B.C.O. following a short illness is sadly reported. Nick Loan (past MD of B&L UK) passes on his thoughts.

Len GibbisonLen leaves behind his wife Jill whom he married 53 years ago, marrying in March 1964. He also leaves his son Stephen, his daughter Claire and his two grandsons Joshua and Nathan. Len was a devoted family man.

He was also a dedicated Optometrist, starting his career in Optics with Frederick Bateman in the early 50’s. He was admitted to the Freedom of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers in September 1959. He later joined the Ronald Brown group in the early 60’s where amongst other things he managed several successful practices for the group and had responsibility for the group’s contact lens business. During this time Len pioneered the development of many transformational strategies, clinical and commercial, through to successful implementation. Later, many of these ground breaking programs emulated by others.

It was at this point that I had the good fortune to be responsible for looking after Mr Hillier and the Ronald Brown group for Bausch and Lomb. Mr Hiller soon became ‘Len’. Len became my friend and mentor, a wise man whom I respected and continue to respect. He was willing to help educate an enthusiastic youngster. Len was my go-to for independent, impartial clinical advice. A service I availed myself of regularly.

Len went on to open his own successful practices, North Harrow and Pinner in Middlesex. It was at the occasion of The Bausch and Lomb Global Symposium on Vision Correction in Monte Carlo on 5th April 2003 that Len had been selected by an international expert panel to be the recipient of the prestigious Bausch and Lomb award for Contribution to Optics and Unselfish Dedication to Patients. I was asked to present the award, a privilege that I cherish to this day. As I called Len forward onto the stage into the spot light, that he had so often chosen to avoid, assembled delegates applauded enthusiastically. An audible measure of the popularity and respect he garnered from his peers.

Len was an active member of the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) and regularly attended conference, always seeking the latest scientific information and staying abreast of new developments.

Len continued to practice in North Harrow until he retired in 2014.

During his long and illustrious career he had looked after the visual needs of celebrities, members of the public and sporting heroes alike including the England rugby team. Len was a keen sportsman himself, President of the Middlesex Football Referees Association for 15 years; Chairman for 12 years and an Examiner for over 20 years. He was appointed as Life Vice President of the Association in recognition of his outstanding service.

Len had the sharpest of wits and a wonderful dry humour. To spend time in his company was a pleasure, something I had the good fortune to experience regularly pre and post his retirement over the past 30 years. He will be sorely missed by all those who knew him. Our condolences go to his wife Jill their children Stephen, Claire and all the family.

Nick Loan. March 2017.

Service Details:

Friday 7th April, 3.30pm at:

Woking crematorium
Hermitage road
Woking Surrey.
( Just outside St Johns village.)

Then after at Woking football club
Kingfield road, Woking Surrey
GU22 9AA. 01483772470

And the customer service award goes to Essilor.

March 2017

Essilor the winners
Essilor Ltd has been recognised for customer service excellence at the recent 2017 UK Customer Satisfaction Awards ceremony, held at the Hilton on Park Lane.

The first lens manufacturer to be presented with one of these awards, Mike Kirkley collected the award for Best Return on Customer Service Investment after the judges said the company “had realised a quantifiable return on its investment”.

Essilor was nominated for its extensive customer training on dispensing Varilux S series lenses with opticians benefiting from higher customer satisfaction levels, higher lens sales and fewer non adaption returns.



Essilor awrads nightCelebrating the award, Essilor Ltd managing director, Mike Kirkley said: “I am proud we have received this recognition from outside our own industry. It is a result of the great work by the team here and the incredible passion they have to ensure our customers are at the heart of all we do. It is a team award for everyone at Essilor Ltd”.

He congratulated the local quality, commercial and technical teams involved in the customer training.

Essilor Ltd was one of 127 shortlisted organisations, including Virgin, Bupa and Barclays Bank, across 13 award categories.

Now in its seventh year, the annual awards ceremony is run by The Institute of Customer Service. It celebrates organisations who place the customer experience at the heart of their business strategy and build a sustainable customers service culture.

Jo Causon, CEO of The Institute of Customer Service said: “Organisations recognised by the Customer Satisfaction Awards have gone above and beyond to achieve outstanding service, and offer a standard for companies and individuals across the UK to aim for over the coming year.

“The key to success is for organisations to create a seamless experience for their customers, one which provides continuity in an increasingly disrupted world because by focusing on their overall experience, customers will be more likely to remain loyal and make positive recommendations.”

SILMO announce death of their organising President.

March 2017

Death of Philippe Lafont

Phillipe LafontIt is with deep sadness that SILMO announce the death of Philippe Lafont, President of the SILMO exhibition.

Since 2012, Philippe Lafont has devoted himself to developing the exhibition, seeking to make SILMO a flagship forum for all industry stakeholders.

Continuing the work begun by Guy Charlot, Philippe’s commitment has seen SILMO become a valuable tool for opticians and helped to raise the profile of the French optics sector.

Under his leadership, SILMO has also pursued its international development.

His death is a huge loss for all who were fortunate enough to work with him. SILMO’s administrators and teams extend their deepest sympathy to his family and friends.

College of Optometrists highlights link between AMD and smoking on No Smoking Day.

March 2017 No Smoking Day (

8th March)

Coco AwardSmokers up X4 times more likely to develop AMD than non-smokers.

We all know that smoking is bad for your overall health, but do you know how it can affect your vision? As part of No Smoking day the College of Optometrists is highlighting the link between smoking and a range of eye health problems, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.

Tobacco smoke is composed of as many as 4,000 active compounds, most of which are toxic and potentially damaging to the eyes. Research has shown that smokers are up to four times more likely than non-smokers to develop AMD – the leading cause of blindness in the western world and tend to develop it earlier than non-smokers.

Smoking can also impede the protective effects of antioxidants and reduce macular pigment density which is vital for good sight and smokers are at greater risk of developing cataracts - where the clear lens inside your eye becomes cloudy or misty and can only be treated with surgery. It is also a factor associated with an increased risk of contact lens-related corneal ulcers, a painful and serious eye infection.

There is also a significant association between smoking and increased risk of retinal vein occlusions which causes reduced vision, and recent research showed that smokers are more likely to develop uveitis compared to non-smokers.

Daniel Hardiman-McCartney, Clinical Adviser for the College of Optometrists, explains; “The health benefits of smoking cessation are well documented, including reducing damage to lungs and decreasing the risks of cancer but few people know of the link between smoking and blindness. We all know that smoking has a detrimental effect on health, but it’s important to highlight the lesser known effect that it can have on eyesight, one of people’s most valued senses. Smoking is linked with an increased risk of blindness, but there is some good news. If you stop smoking the risk of losing your sight diminishes over time, so the sooner you stop, the better for your vision. I would urge any smokers who are worried about the effect it may be having on their eyes to talk to their optometrist.”

However, there is some positive and encouraging news; studies have found that people who stopped smoking 20 years ago have a similar risk of developing AMD to non-smokers.

No Smoking Day is on Wednesday 8 March.

AIO plans meetings that provide direct questions for Independents to answer in defense of their profession.

March 2017

In a series of planned meetings starting March 14th in London and later in Norwich, Manchester and Birmingham the Association of Independent Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians plan on encouraging Independent practices to discuss and air their views on the following topics:

How do you feel about?

  • Specsavers tie up with RNIB
  • Doug Perkins letters to many Independents inviting them to join the Specsavers ‘family’
  • The direction of travel with community eye care, MECS etc
  • GOS fees, CCGs, LOCs and all the optical bodies (GOC, AOP, The College, ABDO, FODO etc.)
  • The Capita payment fiasco
  • The Essilor move into direct supply over the Internet (and the merger with Luxottica)
  • The future for Independent practice

So now's your chance to show if you care about your profession and whether any of these topics affect you, your future or the future care of your patients.

Come to the AIO Roadshows

  • To hear from industry experts on the important issues of the day
  • To have your say and participate in active debate
  • To get your issues and concerns (and opportunities) onto the AIO agenda.
  • To contribute to the 2017 AIO policy review 
  • To hear about the Independents’ Code (IC) and how it benefits Independent practice
  • To find out more about the new AIO Practice Insurance policy

See the timetable and future plan here

PHN and Opchat News are recognised as Co Media Sponsors of the AIO and you can read more about them on their page on your free independent news site, run by optical professionals.

The COCO SONG AWARD: Announces the 5 finalists of the talented young designers competition.

March 2017

Coco Award

The names have finally been revealed of the five finalists of the first edition of the Coco Song Award, a competition sponsored by Area98 in collaboration with the Harim Accademia Euromediterranea to offer young design talents a chance to give their own interpretation of the celebrated Coco Song collection.

Harim Euro-Mediterranean Academy is located in Catania – and professionally trains students in the fields of fashion, jewellery, photography and interior and product design and communication.

Its main objective is to create the Mediterranean as a new creative environment and consequently to prove the impact that design and fashion can have on the cultural and economic well being of the entire Mediterranean region.

“Zhe Zhi” by Selene Cassarino, “Dissect” by Roberta L’Episcopo, “Roots” by Roberta Pinna, “Bambusa” by Carla Vinci and “Cloud” by Davide Mazzaglia are the projects destined for the Coco Song sunglasses line and which have been admitted to the final.

The jury - composed of members of Area98’s Executive Board, Gabriella Ferrera, President of the Harim Academia Euromediterranea, business partners from the principal markets in which Area98 operates and representatives of the eyewear industry press - has expressed its opinion by means of an evaluation board directed at analysing not only the degree of innovation and the aesthetic and emotional value of the projects, but also the level of inspiration taken from the collection’s strengths and the actual feasibility of the proposals.

The five student finalists will embark on a distance internship with Area98, during which they will be accompanied in the creation of an eyewear prototype in the planned colour variant. The winning student of the Coco Song Award will be named at October 9, 2017 at Silmo.

Elisio Tessaro, Area98’s Art Director and Marketing Manager comments: "It's amazing to recognise how a different point of view can completely change the perception and representation of things. These young talents have identified innovative sources of inspiration and unique interpretations that for us represent a creative treasure. We are excited about the results gathered so far and look forward to guiding our student finalists to the finish line of this contest to finally be able to see the fruit of their imagination come into fruition."

EU Court decision gives visually impaired and blind people access to more published works.

February 2017

People who are blind or visually impaired across Europe will have greater access to published works, following a decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on 14 February that the European Union (EU) has the power to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty.

The Treaty, which is strongly supported by the European Coalition for Vision (ECV), is designed to create copyright exceptions for the benefit of visually impaired and blind people.

Under the Treaty, government institutions and certain non-profit organisations will be able to produce and distribute published works in alternative formats without the specific authorisation of the rights holder.

The European Parliament is expected to vote on implementation of the Treaty on 22 March 2017. Following the vote, the EU Parliament and EU member states will negotiate compensation schemes, commercial availability and the official registration of authorised distributors.

David Hewlett, Chair of the ECV, said: “This is a huge step forward in equality for partially sighted and blind Europeans, who will benefit from access to the same standard and range of works in alternative formats throughout the EU. We and our partners will continue to urge the executive to implement the Treaty with minimum delay.”

Essilor launches £5m Varilux campaign.

February 2017

EssilorEssilor is launching a £5m multi-pair promotional campaign to support and drive footfall into the independent sector and strengthen its key brands, including Varilux, Crizal and Transitions.

Its ‘Be a Modern Hero’ offer enables opticians to buy a second pair of Crizal lenses in the same prescription at a 50 per cent discount which practices can pass directly to patients, to boost multi-pair sales.

Frame suppliers Marchon, Henry Beaumont and EyeSpace are also offering additional discounts to existing and new customer who are signed to Essilor’s campaign.

This 360˚campaign will include the first national TV advertising campaign for Varilux in 20 years, TV programme sponsorship and digital media support.

Head of marketing, Jonathan Cohen, said the tagline for the campaign is “Empower your vision” with Varilux lenses that offer sharp vision for all distances, smooth transitions and super adaption in all light conditions.

EssilorThe TV campaign starts from March 6 in the UK. In the UK the 30 second advert will appear on C4TV, Sky media, ITV3, ITV4 ITV Encore, C4dig and C4 sales. Irish viewers can see it on RTE, TV3, CH4, E4, More4 and Film4. A C4 weather channel TV sponsorship will run from April to October.

Practices can capitalise on the campaign locally with a customised marketing package. Options include outdoor advertising such as billboards and bus shelters, press and radio advertising and mailshots. It also includes in-store POS materials to support the local marketing activities.

Essilor will run a dynamic training programme on how to present multi-pair options to patients. Each session lasts an hour, runs in practices, and is CET accredited.

Cohen said: ”This 360° campaign is our strongest offer ever. Essilor is the only lens manufacturer investing in national media for independents. This reinforces our position as the independent optician’s best business partner.

Essilor“Only 15 per cent of specs are sold as multi-pairs in the UK, far lower than in other countries. There is room for growth by simply giving the consumer the second pair that helps them when driving, on holiday, at work, in sport or refreshing their image.

“Our CET training gives staff new insights in how to match complex lifestyle needs to lenses and then helps them to make a multi-pair offer without concerns over price barrier. Our vision is to share new ways of thinking about lenses for individuals.”

Cohen said that an independent survey on their 2016 multi-pair offer proved the growth potential. Sales increased for 72 per cent of opticians and 41 per cent who ordered multi-pairs sad reported double-digit growth.


“Feedback shows it drove footfall, generated new customers, helped staff focus on different pairs for different activities and delighted patients who valued the advice”.

Andy Chapman, managing director of Chapman & Myers backed that up. He said: “Since implementing the promotion we had a record week of orders with great upgrades on second pairs and patients feeling they were getting excellent value for money. It was simple and effective, like all great promotions.”

Optegra Eye Health Care reports a satisfactory weekend's work at 100% Optical which is reprinted in our postscript show report.

February 2017


“We are delighted with how the event went and it was a real pleasure to meet so many professionals in the industry. This year we offered something a little different with a virtual tour of our Flagship Central London hospital which celebrated it’s one year anniversary last month, and our interactive CET quiz.

We look forward to further developing our relationship with our professional partners by supporting their education and training through events and collaborating with our Eye Sciences department in order to mutually provide expert healthcare to patients.”

As one show finishes another opens which means our 100% preview page is now accepting "How was it for you?" reports from the exhibitors and Optrafair Preview pages open tomorrow Valentine's Day.

BLACKFIN – “SKY’S THE LIMIT” is the title theme of the new 2017 CAMPAIGN

January 2017

BlackfinAn altitude of 3000 metres, a breath-taking landscape, an extreme climate.

This is Etna, Europe’s greatest active volcano, that is now the backdrop to the new Blackfin communications campaign, a unique natural setting that chimes perfectly with the soul of the eyewear brand, writing its history in a way that is far from the stereotypical conventions of advertising.

The hostile surroundings present a challenge, testing our ability to exceed our own limits.

The barren terrain, the harsh climate and the altitude of this unsettling environment are experienced as a stimulus to look deep within ourselves and transmit with ever more power the value and meaning of Blackfin, a meaning that goes far beyond its role as a mere frame, deeply involving all who create it and wear it.



This inaccessible place, largely perceived as an obstacle, presents Blackfin with the perfect stage on which to conjure up images of amazing emotional intensity, displaying all the courageous vision of a company that over the years has never been fearful of overcoming difficulties and breaking with convention, daily putting ourselves to the test, reaching beyond ordinary mind-sets and avoiding the more well-trodden paths – to reach a point where only the sky is the limit.

SKY’S THE LIMIT is the campaign spotlighting year one of chapter three (III –I) in the Blackfin story, a new level in which product, communications and marketing are ever more integrated in an organic process that seals the positioning of the brand on the international eyewear scene.


The Sky’s the limit campaign – the 2017 Blackfin eyewear collection 2017

Final countdown to AOP Awards 2017.

January 2017

With just under two weeks to go until the AOP Awards 2017, the Association of Optometrists (AOP) is encouraging patients and practitioners to get behind this year’s finalists by securing their place at the prestigious event.

A record number of online votes were cast this year, with more than 20,000 people supporting their favoured finalist, in a range of award categories for both individuals and practice teams.

Recognising the highest levels of achievement in UK optics, the event celebrates outstanding contributions across the profession.

This year’s event will be hosted by comedian Holly Walsh and, for the first time, takes place at global trade event 100% Optical. Promising an evening of entertainment and celebration, the AOP Awards also gives those working in optics a unique opportunity to network with fellow peers, commercial sponsors and industry leaders.

AOP’s Chair of the Board, Kevin Thompson said “The build up to this year’s Awards has been the most exciting yet – with 6000 votes received during the first month. We’re particularly excited about the move to 100% Optical – enabling us to grow this already popular event and showcase the profession on a larger scale. We’re grateful to all our sponsors who have helped that happen – with special thanks to our headline sponsor, Alcon Academy for Eyecare Excellence.”

There are 11 awards voted for by the public, across 13 categories that highlight the breadth of important work being carried out by optical practitioners UK-wide. The Lifetime Achievement Award is selected by Mr Thompson and AOP Chief Executive, Henrietta Alderman. The 2017 Awards will also see the introduction of a new category, the Product of the Year Award, voted exclusively for by AOP members.

Ms Alderman said “This year we have seen some remarkable entries who demonstrate real commitment and skill in delivering for patients, as well as playing an important role in the optical profession. We are looking forward to giving them the recognition they deserve.”

The AOP Awards takes place on Sunday 5 February. Patients and practitioners can help celebrate and support this year’s finalists by booking an individual ticket or a table at Bookings close on Friday 27 January.

Shamir UK celebrates the New year with a new campaign and certification of the BS EN ISO 9001: 2015!

January 2017

Published in September 2015, the ISO 9001: 2008 has been revised and renamed: ISO 9001: 2015.

Shamir UK has been certified a year early, ensuring customers are receiving the highest quality of lenses provided. Although one year still remains before the policy becomes compulsory, Shamir UK has been keen to undergo the inspection, and as a result, have now been registered by NQA as a company maintaining a quality management system above standard.

By introducing the revised policy, companies are to comply with ensuring all products are consistently produced to relevant statutory and regulatory standards as well as ensuring the constant improvement of management systems to enhance and reinforce customer satisfaction.

On another note, Shamir UK has also launched our ‘Refer a Friend to the SPARK Mi™ and Receive £100!’ campaign.

After the form found on our promotions tab via our website has been filled in for eligibility, our local area lens consultants will be in touch for training and to answer any additional questions either optician may have.

Until now, measuring a client for a new pair of glasses was an uncomfortable and time consuming process.

With our SPARK Mi™ also acting as a stylish table top mirror, a couple of clicks and the patient’s image is immediately shown on the optician’s screen along with an accurate PD reading.

The optician can now access all measurements including fitting heights, frame box, DBL, BVD, face form angle and pantoscopic tilt from this quick, easy and comfortable experience. Let us show you how our latest piece of innovation can transform your business!

Shamir UK always takes pride in our high quality products to ensure the happiness of both the optician and patient. We believe we can continue to give our customers a service that not only benefits and improves their practice, but also ensures their customers are truly satisfied with the results.


Breaking News Story: Largest frame and lens companies to merge in $49 Billion deal. (46 Billion Euros).

January 2017

Yes in a landscape that is looking very consumer orientated and perhaps less what opticians have come to expect Essilor and Luxottica are to merge as reported by Reuters a few hours ago.

Frame and sunglass, manufacturers and sellers; and Essilor a leading lens manufacturer both with global brands are to merge in a 46 Billion Euro deal.

"Finally ... two products which are naturally complementary -- namely frames and lenses -- will be designed, manufactured and distributed under the same roof," Luxottica's 81-year-old founder Leonardo Del Vecchio said in a statement today, Monday.

"The strategic rationale is strong," JPMorgan Cazenove analysts said in a note, adding that the deal defuses the risk of growing competition between two groups that had been encroaching on each other's areas of expertise in recent years, with Essilor buying online retailers and Luxottica investing in lens manufacturing.

Luxottica has had 3 CEOs since 2014 reportedly becacause of rifts with Del Vecchio and this will steady the ship and any rumours about succession plus knock out any competetition between them.

A $49 billion deal seems very large in comparison with an estimated 95 Billion market place.

Luxottica says that the merger is expected to boost operating profit by up to 600 million euros in the medium term.

The merged Essilor/Luxottica will have 140,000 staff and will be headquartered and listed in Paris. It will also have a complex governance structure, with Del Vecchio and Essilor Chairman and CEO Hubert Sagnieres effectively sharing the driving seat, while the 16-strong board will have an even split of Essilor and Luxottica executives.

Last chance for entering the Opticians Awards 2017.

January 2107

You are running out of time to enter this year's Optician Awards - the deadline will close on Monday 16th January.

Enter now to ensure that you are in with a chance to win one of the optical profession's highest accolades.

If you need some help entering, take a look at some tips from our judges, to ensure you get the most out of the submission process. If you still need assistance, feel free to send them an email ( or give them a call on 020 7501 6782.

Enter by Monday - and good luck with your entries!


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