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Sunday / July 3.
HomeminewsOptometrist Co-Op Ready To Takes on the Giants

Optometrist Co-Op Ready To Takes on the Giants

It’s finally happening. After much careful research and planning, the Optometrists Co-Operative (OPT) is about to be launched.

In a letter to hundreds of independents throughout Australia, the OPT Board, consisting of independent optometrists Cameron Dyson, Emmanuel Calligeros, George Skoufis, Kenneth Long and Harry Notaras, assured potential members that OPT will be totally transparent and managed to benefit members and their patients.

The letter stated: “In the face of a corporate onslaught it’s time for independent Optometry to unite and differentiate ourselves from the mediocrity of corporate Optometry. It’s clear from the recent frenzy of private practices selling out to various chains and groups, that many of us are feeling uneasy in the present climate of aggressive corporate dispensing interests attempting to dominate the Australian optical market.

“Sadly, some optometrists appear willing to surrender their professional independence, and seem to be deciding that Starbucks Optometry is the only way forward. For those of us who think otherwise, the Optometrists Co-Operative will help us to maintain our independence, and continue to prosper by differentiating ourselves as leaders in our field.

Our aim is to form a co-operative of optometrists who are the controlling owners of their solo or small group practices, together with suppliers who have agreed to support us and offer us a competitive edge

“Our aim is to form a co-operative of optometrists who are the controlling owners of their solo or small group practices, together with suppliers who have agreed to support us and offer us a competitive edge. The partner suppliers who will be working with OPT from the launch are Lens companies: CR Surfacing, Rodenstock and HOYA; Contact Lens companies: CooperVision and Bausch & Lomb; Spectacle Frames: Sceats Optical, Safilo Australia, Eyes Right Optical, Rodenstock and the Jono Hennessy Group; and Sunglasses: Rudy Project.”

The Board said the suppliers were offering discount packages unavailable to solo practitioners.

“We envisage the co-operative offering many of the benefits of size, including group discounts on stock, equipment, insurance, advertising and exit strategies,” said Emmanuel Calligeros.

“The funds generated by the group will be used solely for the benefit of members, including marketing, seminars, or whatever else the members feel would aid them in the advancement of their practices. We also hope to be a voice for independent optometry in Australia, without the shackles by which some other organisations are bound due to mixed allegiances. This could extend to independent optometry being strongly represented to undergraduate students, and more importantly in the media and to government. Corporate optometry has the ear of these groups already,” he said.

Calligeros goes on to say: “By forming an alliance between independent Optometrists and quality suppliers, who are willing to support us, we can survive and prosper in the future challenging years.”

Cameron Dyson tells prospective members: “My only agenda is to see optometrists in Australia maintain their ability to practice their profession independently and profitably. I don’t like to see dispensing companies, particularly foreign-owned ones, putting themselves forward as the voice of optometry in this country, yet this is happening already. I would like to give independent optometrists in Australia a voice, and to do that I believe we need a large group of like-minded members who can steer our futures in the direction that best serves our interests, not those of manufacturers seeking to monopolize the market.”

According to Kenneth Long: “We all know that whilst lip service is given to the importance of optometry by corporations, there remains the suspicion that it all comes down to playing second fiddle to the profit agendas.”

As for Harry Notaras: “The way forward is to become one strong cohesive force but also maintaining what we stand for and what made us different -independence!”

The Board said that prospective members must own a controlling share of their practices and have no more than five full time practices per partner. They must not be a member of any other buying group nor have interests in any internet site offering optical services to any persons other than their own practice clients. There would be an initial joining fee of AUD$500 per optometrist (refundable at any time in the future if membership ceases) together with an annual non-refundable fee of AUD$500 per practice location.

Co-op fees would be generated on the basis of a one per cent contribution from all practice purchases through partner suppliers, and will be matched by an equal one per cent contribution by the suppliers.

Anyone wanting to apply should contact Cameron Dyson via email at camdyson@netspace.net.au (Vic, SA and WA) and Emmanuel Calligeros at eyecee@zip.com.au (NSW, Qld and NT).

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