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Opchat Magazine Industry NewsIndustry News, October to December 2018

Fittingbox chosen by Fielmann as key strategic partner for Digitization
Performance Finance acquires specialist paper finance team from the Practice Finance Company.
MEI: Excellent feedback obtained following ITALY’S IRSOO on the EZFIT Compact Solution.
MONDOTTICA announces Investment
Doctor Care Anywhere strengthens its clinical and digital expertise with appointment of Professor Nicholas Peters to the chair of its clinical advisory board
New managing director for Essilor
Further growth at Positive Impact
Zoobug's Colourful Relaunch at SILMO was a huge success
UK and Ireland Opticians Visit the STEPPER Marketing Office in Stuttgart, Germany.
Change is as good as a rest for Davies
Newly appointed Clinical Product Specialist at Grafton
Positive Impact has announced further expansion with the appointment of Tony Whyatt as Business Development Manager.
Read the last quarters Industry News

Fittingbox chosen by Fielmann as key strategic partner for Digitization

December 2018

Fitting BoxAfter several months of worldwide technological research and analysis, Fielmann, Central Europe`s market leader in eyewear, has chosen FittingBox as one of its key partners for the digitization process.

A solid R&D background, unique technological solutions for omnichannel consumer journeys, and a clear roadmap for new disruptive technologies are the key reasons for this partnership.

Marc Fielmann, CEO Fielmann: “With 13 patents, FittingBox is a global leader in 3D Try-On and fitting technology. FittingBox provides a 3D Try-On solution that is technologically superior to all relevant alternatives. It is a key component of the digital eyewear platform that Fielmann Ventures is building together with its partners. FittingBox and Fielmann jointly pursue the strategic goal of providing customers with a unique experience in an omnichannel world of quality prescription eyewear.”

Ariel Choukroun and Benjamin Hakoun, co-founders of FittingBox, and respectively CTO and CEO of the company, explain the reasons behind this partnership and why it accelerates FittingBox’s mission to become the worldwide leader for augmented reality solutions in the eyewear industry for the benefit of its entire customer base:

Ariel Choukroun: “At FittingBox we are used to being one step ahead, figuring out what’s next and how to translate it into actionable eyewear solutions. We have clearly understood that “actionable” is a key word to accelerate our solutions adoption, both by our clients and the final customers.

Having products that are easy to integrate, to manage and to interact with while being relevant at each step of the purchasing funnel are essential features to empower the daily selling routine for thousands of optical store staffs, online and instore“.

Benjamin Hakoun, CEO and co-founder of FittingBox adds: “When the opportunity arose to have Fielmann as a minority shareholder in the company, we seized this opportunity as key chance for improving our product actionability for the benefit of the entire customer base as well as a strong acceleration of our technological roadmap.

Thanks to established feedbacks protocols between our 2 product departments, we are going to be able to constantly improve our solutions. With Fielmann’s financial commitment, we are going to accelerate the introduction of some new AR and AI technologies that will transform the optical client purchasing experience forever.

It is also a source of pride for us, that Fielmann, as Central Europe’s market leader, shares our values and endorses our vision. It proves that the intuition we had more than 13 years ago starts to become a reality.

We would like extend a special thank you to all the FittingBox team members, women and men, who commit themselves on a daily basis for the benefit of our Company and thousands of our customers worldwide”.

From left to right: Bernard De Savignies (COO VP Finance, Services & QA – FittingBox), Ariel Choukroun (Co-founder, VP Research, Technology & Product – FittingBox), Marc Fielmann
(CEO Fielmann), Benjamin Hakoun (Co-founder, CEO – FittingBox), Thomas Rützel (Managing Director, Head of business development), Christophe Baste (Corporate Secretary & Head of Legal – FittingBox), Guillaume Lemoine (VP Product - FittingBox).

Performance Finance acquires specialist paper finance team from the Practice Finance Company.

December 2018

We are delighted to announce that Performance Finance has strengthened its position in the paper professions lending market by acquiring a specialist paper finance team from the Practice Finance Company.

“The acquisition of a team of three professions account managers headed by Alun Rogers is another coup for Performance Finance,” says Stuart Burn, managing director of Performance Finance. “This will continue our growth in the paper professions market and give us a satellite office in the North West to complement the Kettering headquarters activities.”

The new account managers will join the existing five-strong paper professions team in Kettering, with a new office being established shortly in Wrexham. They will also benefit from an increased lending panel and Performance’s Own Book facilities which surpassed £40 million of lending this year.

Established 13 years ago, Performance Finance is one of the UK’s leading finance specialists for professional services, lending over £50m in 2017. It provides tailor made loans and finance solutions for the following professions:

Opticians, • Dentists • Vets • Solicitors • Accountants • Doctors

MEI: Excellent feedback obtained following ITALY’S IRSOO on the EZFIT Compact Solution.

November 2018

EZFit The partnership entered into six months ago between MEI and IRSOO – the Institute for Research and Studies in Optics and Optometry in Vinci (Florence) – for the educational evaluation of EzFit, the all-in-one edger designed to bring milling technology into retail outlets and small labs, ends on a positive note.

Starting last May, two of the Institute’s instructors analyzed the machine’s features, comparing them with those of latest-gen automatic grinding wheels. The test involved shaping, edging and polishing a certain number of organic lenses with different base curvature and power, for mounting on prescription eyewear and sports or protective goggles, whether made of sheet, plastic, metal, Nylor or rimless lenses, and in all shapes. The work was conducted by experts in both EzFit and wheel-grinding operations, who measured mounting time and product quality.

The professionals who used the new milling system immediately pointed out the extreme accuracy of the machine, which facilitates insertion of the lenses, adjustment of the position of the bevel on high-power lenses for perfect mounting, the ability to apply the correct angle to the holes on rimless lenses to properly orient the temples. After many tests on various types of edges, they observed a total time savings of 30% over the brand-name edging machine, from prep work to actual mounting. A performance upgrade that, along with the option of loading two lenses at the same time (right and left), and the fact that cut polycarbonate or trivex lenses do not require cleaning or re-processing, saves the operator precious time to devote to other activities.

Feedback was also very positive from the IRSOO students who worked with the machine. They were impressed with the ability to mount any type of organic lenses, from simple round eyewear to frames that require special bevels and processing, as well as EzFit’s extreme ease of use. All-around raves – from both the professors and the students – over the fact that EzFit cuts dry and therefore does not require the operator to change water or separate residual liquid from solids. In addition, all the parts for cutting, starting with the tools themselves, remain dry and sharp, unlike traditional grinding wheels which, working with water that is not perfectly clean, tend to wear out more quickly.

All in all, a very positive bottom line, one that offers many points for reflection, according to Stefano Sonzogni, President and Technical Director of MEI: “EzFit is custom-tailored for the retail sector. It offers opticians the ability to shape lenses, leveraging the advances in milling technology that for years have been appreciated by the large labs we work with. The market is beginning to recognize the importance of these benefits – as evidenced by the new EzFit installations we have made in recent months at retail outlets in Italy and abroad – but the partnership with IRSOO gave us some insight into just how crucial it is to inform industry teaching institutions and push them to modernize their instrumentation and educate the new generations of opticians and optometrists about the technological revolution in milling.”

In light of the impressive results achieved in the course of this initial partnership with IRSOO, MEI intends to repeat the experience next year, possibly establishing a course specifically dedicated to lens mounting and to the advantages gained from using EzFit milling technology.

MONDOTTICA announces Investment

November 2018

Mondottica International Group and Ferdinand Menrad Group have announced an investment by Menrad in Mondottica, leading to a minority but substantial shareholding of Mondottica’s shares.

According to Mondottica’s founder and CEO, Michael Jardine, “This is the culmination of nearly fours years in partnership with Menrad with our Mondottica Germany distribution joint venture. We have worked closely with the Menrad team in German speaking markets and see great synergies for future growth when we work together in other parts of the world.”

When asked about future plans, Michael Jardine replied that “Presently there are a number of markets in the world where Menrad have a presence and Mondottica lacks feet on the ground. This will be a great opportunity for next steps.”

According to Eberhard and Hermann Mueller Menrad, “The decision to invest in the Mondottica International Group is based on a successful partnership in the Mondottica Germany joint venture and the mutual trust that has been built over the years between our two companies. We strongly believe that this partnership will also work beyond the German speaking markets. Mondottica has highly attractive licensed brands and Menrad has a strong worldwide distribution network, as well as a proven Menrad owned manufacturing base in China for more than 20 years.”

Doctor Care Anywhere strengthens its clinical and digital expertise with appointment of Professor Nicholas Peters to the chair of its clinical advisory board

November 2018

Appointment reflects company’s commitment to further strengthen its clinical and care services

Doctor Care Anywhere, is the online primary care provider owned by Synergix Health, and has appointed Professor Nicholas Peters to Chair of Doctor Care Anywhere’s Clinical Advisory Board, signalling the company’s commitment to further enhance its online clinical and care services.

Nicholas Peters
Currently Professor of Cardiology and Consultant Cardiologist at Imperial College NHS Trust, Peters is globally recognised for his role as Clinical Advisor to Google Health London and as a leading advocate for the benefits of smart technology in healthcare. Peters also sits on the Board of DigitalHealth. London, is a co-founder of the European Cardiac Arrhythmia Society and is the only non-US member on the Board of Trustees and the newly created Digital Health Committee of the Heart Rhythm Society.

Peters brings both his medical eminence and technological expertise to Doctor Care Anywhere, supporting the company’s reputation as a leading provider of top quality online healthcare and a digital innovator.

As Chair of the Clinical Advisory Board Peters will provide expert guidance as the company enhances its online healthcare platform, enabling Doctor Care Anywhere to continue providing its patients with an exemplary online healthcare experience and the highest standards of care, as well as overseeing the development and growth of its bespoke online GP training.

One of the first online providers to pass all five of the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) key quality standards, Doctor Care Anywhere is doctor-founded and is one of the UK’s leading providers of telemedicine. Doctor Care Anywhere gives patients access to healthcare twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and provides appointments, prescriptions and referrals, enabling patients to access healthcare remotely, flexibly and securely.

Doctor Care Anywhere has benefited from the increasing demand for virtual GP appointments in recent years both in the UK and internationally, and the company now serves a growing patient base of 200,000 individuals and circa 200 corporate customers, and has conducted consultations in over 100 different countries.

Bayju Thakar, Founder and Executive Director, commented: “We are delighted to announce Professor Peters’ appointment to Chair of our Clinical Advisory Board. Nick has unrivalled expertise in healthcare and technology and this experience will be invaluable as we continue to strengthen the clinical expertise behind our service.

“We are currently witnessing the growth of crippling financial and resource burdens on our healthcare systems, so it is essential that we find alternate means of allowing people to access the healthcare they need, when they need it. We look forward to working with Nick to ensure Doctor Care Anywhere not only continues to provide safe, clinically excellent healthcare but that our clinicians are best supported in adopting the new ways of working that virtual practice demands, while delivering the highest clinical standards possible.”

Professor Nicholas Peters, Chair of the Clinical Advisory Board, commented: “I am thrilled to be working with Doctor Care Anywhere to enhance its position as a revolutionary provider of online healthcare. Despite how far it has already come, medical technology remains underutilised due to concerns that its ultimate aim is to replace human-to-human contact. But there will always be a place for the expertise of highly trained clinicians and online healthcare’s true value is not in replacing this vital contact between doctor and patient, but in improving access and enabling doctors to come up with more imaginative solutions to medical problems.

“This is an ethos shared with Doctor Care Anywhere’s founders and I look forward to working with a company so focused on increasing access to the knowledge and care that an excellent doctor can provide. My role, alongside Bayju and the Board, will be to ensure that the highest standards of care are provided through Doctor Care Anywhere’s platform, enabling its virtual GPs to continue providing exemplary, accessible healthcare online.”

New managing director for Essilor

November 2018

Tim Precious of EssilorEssilor Ltd has announced the appointment of Tim Precious as managing director.

Tim has a long history of senior management within the Essilor Group and returns to the UK after spending three years working for Essilor Group as Vice President, Nordics.

Tim will continue the work of his predecessor Mike Kirkley by pioneering strategies to create stability and growth for Essilor’s independent customers.

Tim, who has relocated with his family to the UK after living for three years in Copenhagen, said; “It has been an honour and privilege to work for Essilor over thirteen years and I’m absolutely delighted to be driving our ongoing mission of improving lives by improving sight.”

Before this appointment, Tim worked as country manager, projects director and finance and commercial policy director within Essilor accumulating experience in seven countries in all sectors of the optical market.

Regional vice president at Essilor, Peter Smith said: “Tim has a solid track record of achievement within the group in terms of leadership, strategy and innovation and remarkably broad experience of our sector.

“As part of our promise to be the independent optician’s best business partner, Tim will lead the team that explores every possible opportunity to create a more exciting business climate for our business partners.”

Further growth at Positive Impact

November 2018

Positive Impact has announced further expansion with three staff changes. The company has promoted Ellie Jarman (pictured) to the role of Marketing Co-Ordinator to take its marketing initiatives to the next level.

llie Jarman at PIMs Jarman joined the company as Marketing and Customer Service Executive in May 2017 and has been supporting the company’s marketing activities since then, as well as handling customer queries and day-to-day administration work.

In her new role, she will run the company’s digital marketing channels and all marketing communications.

Positive Impact’s Managing Director, Maxine Green, said: “Ellie has worked with us for over a year and already understands our business and product portfolio. She has a tremendous track record in digital marketing and can hit the ground running, growing our social media and brand visibility.

“Ellie is a key member of the team driving the business forward in 2018/19,” she concluded.

Ms Jarman commented: “I am delighted to be applying my previous experience to help Positive Impact continue its success. We have a fantastic product portfolio with many best in class products.
“I am looking forward to working with the team to further grow and develop our UK business, while developing my marketing skills to the next level.”

Positive Impact has also appointed two new members of staff. Amy Searle joins the company as Customer Services Administrator and Mike Burns joins in a customer services and telemarketing role.

Ms Searle’s background is in customer services management and she brings a wealth of managerial expertise to the Positive Impact team.

Mr Burns has worked in telemarketing environments for several years, both in business-to-consumer and business-to-business roles. At Positive Impact, he will help support the GLASKLAR and dry eye portfolios.

Zoobug's Colourful Relaunch at SILMO was a huge success

October 2018

ZooBug kids ranges have been designed specifically for kids by Dr Julie Lee who created the ZooBug London brand.

Zoobug 2018 Relaunch
Frustrated with the lack of well fitted functional kids products Julie Lee embarked on a journey to create an eyewear brand (that only makes eyewear) that offers meaningful features, cool styles but most importantly some fun!

ZooBug already enjoys prestige as a Silmo d’or Award Winner with the well documented Daisy model. And again this year was no different with Mondottica receiving 3x nominations and a win for our designers.

However this year’s Silmo ZooBug entry enjoyed a unique twist with a touch of the new Spine 2.0 smart hinge technology added!

ZooBug was also the most featured eyewear brand at London Fashion Week. Utilised within a number of kids catwalk events.

The parent friendly ZooBug kids promise is also another cool brand feature offering a replacement product in the first year if lost or broken
(T&C’s apply).

Zoobug also have an amnesty period now running against older lines (this can be used once per store).

This gives us the opportunity to update your stock and credit many older lines in full so as to help reboot your product offer against a fresh new order

Finally the ZooBug POS is another much loved charm with great supporting asset to help sell out the brand.

We can supply the Orange Bug frame displays, banners, poster, technical cards, brand blocks & Showcard kits to help capture both child & parents attention.

UK and Ireland Opticians Visit the STEPPER Marketing Office in Stuttgart, Germany.

October 2018

Stepper Visit Hans Stepper and his wife Kirsti welcomed the delegates to Stuttgart during a meal of Swabian (Stuttgart region) food at the start of a total infusion into the world of STEPPER.

Also hosted by Saskia Stepper (daughter to Hans), the visit was designed to give the most personal insight into STEPPER.

Aside from eating and drinking local specialities (including a visit to the Stuttgart beer festival), attendees were given the opportunity to explore STEPPER and STEPPERS international collections and encouraged to give feedback on potential for the UK and Irish markets.

Following a presentation by STEPPER on the planned direction of the company’s two brands, a discussion on STEPPER in the UK, an opportunity to give an optician’s perspective on what STEPPER means to their business and how this can be developed entailed.

This was a great opportunity for both sides to gain valuable knowledge into the relationship between frame manufacturer and optician. As well as developing stronger business relationships; friendships were cemented too.


Paul Curtis; Curtis Opticians, Lizzie Yeowart; STEPPER Blogger & Optometrist, Clive Marchant; ABDO President and MD of Colin Lee, Sandi & Vincent Charlesworth; National Eyecare Group, Natalie Snowden & Patrick O’Kane; Bayfields Opticians, John & Catherine Pike; John Pike Opticians, John Pearson & Roddy MacLeod; Browns Opticians, Mark O'Shea; Leightons Opticians, Thomas Biggs & Raymond Biggs; Biggs Opticians, Catriona Stead & Jane Williamson; Melina Joy Opticians, Liz Pope; Elizabeth Pope Opticians, Thomas Pears & Fiona Heydari; Haine & Smith Opticians


Hans Stepper, Kirsti Stepper, Saskia Stepper, Michelle Ng, Michael Ng, Peter Reeve, Martin Allen, Liz Shepherd, Julian Boysen, Alex Davis, Yan Wang.

Change is as good as a rest for Davies

October 2018

Ian Davies establishes speaking, coaching and consulting business

Ian Davies

After 30 years in the corporate vision care business, Ian Davies has become an independent speaker, coach, consultant and blogger on

An optometrist by training, Ian joined Johnson and Johnson in 1992 and developed the Professional Education and support functions to support the rollout and adoption of disposable contact lenses.

He established The Vision Care Institute across Europe and the Middle East and latterly ran Johnson and Johnson Vision’s Global Professional Affairs function.

Commenting on the move Ian said,

“Having presented around the world, coached and helped to develop the careers of many who are now household names in the field, I’m excited to be able to expand my skills and experience into new arenas. I am particularly keen to offer support to optical businesses in developing their social media activity and offering communication training.” Ian can be contacted on

Newly appointed Clinical Product Specialist at Grafton

October 2018

Jawairia ShaihidGrafton Optical announce the appointment of Jawairia Shahid as Clinical Product Specialist for their range of Dry Eye Disease products, offering practices a new and holistic approach to diagnosing and treating the growing condition

Jawairia Shahid joins Grafton Optical as Clinical Product Specialist having graduated in BSc (Hons) Optometry from The University of Manchester. Since qualifying as an Optometrist, Jawairia has worked across a number of different stores and has developed her interest and knowledge in Dry Eye disease and the challenges and practicalities of dealing with this prevalent condition in every day practice.

Jawairia combines her extensive clinical knowledge with Grafton’s broad range of Dry Eye equipment and products to provide practices with a new and holistic approach to their Dry Eye service offering. Jawaira prides herself on her ability to make eithical sales, teaching practices how to invest in the right equipment to sucessfully market and run a profitable service for Dry Eye patients.

With full responsibility for the development and sales of Grafton Optical’s range of Dry Eye Disease products and devices, Jawairia will play a key role in meeting the company's growth targets as well as building on Grafton’s excellent reputation for customer service.

David Thickens, Grafton CEO, said: “Jawairia’s experience and clinical knowledge in the optical industry are second to none and we are thrilled to have her on board. Attracting someone of Jawairia’s calibre into the business is a great endorsement of our strategy and ambition and adds another dimension to our service offering. She brings with her incredibly strong knowledge and experience which will be vital as we continue our ambitious plans to grow and develop specialist Dry Eye solutions for our customers."

Jawairia commented on her appointment “I am delighted to become part of the team at Grafton Optical. We have an exciting portfolio of innovative Dry Eye products that offer solutions in both high street practices and hospitals. Dry Eye patients are largely still an un-tapped sector of our market, with many relying on eye drops alone. I look forward to working alongside our customers and helping them to develop comprehensive services and strategies which will ultimately profit their businesses”.

If you would like to contact Jawairia to discuss how Grafton Optical can help you, drop her an email on or call her directly on 07794 336 821.

Grafton Optical is one of the UK's leading suppliers of ophthalmic instruments, equipping and servicing independent and larger chain opticians as well as Britain's hospitals. It is also a long time supporter of your opchat news. See their pages here

Positive Impact has announced further expansion with the appointment of Tony Whyatt as Business Development Manager.

October 2018

Tony WhyattMr Whyatt has extensive experience in key and national account management with industry giant Bausch & Lomb (B&L) and more recently a number of leading dry eye and pharmaceutical companies, including Thea Pharmaceuticals.

At Positive Impact he will be responsible for developing the company’s expanding dry eye portfolio in larger optical groups. He will also be helping to further expand the company’s successful contract sales and training business.

Positive Impact Managing Director, Maxine Green, said: “My co-Director Nick Atkins and I first worked with Tony when we were at B&L and so it’s wonderful to be able to team up with a colleague and friend who has great industry knowledge and experience.

“I know he will be a great asset to the Positive Impact business portfolio,” she concluded.

Mr Whyatt said: “It’s not often you get the chance to once again work with respected former colleagues with whom you had a great working relationship. As such I’m delighted to be working with Maxine and Nick again and being given the opportunity to help them take their business to the next level.”


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