Dame Mary Perkins, co-founder of Specsavers, joined executives, franchise partners and VIPs in Melbourne during March to celebrate a milestone five years of operation in Australia and New Zealand. Globally, the company is celebrating 30 years of operation.
At a gala dinner in Melbourne, MC’d by designer Alex Perry, Dame Mary Perkins congratulated franchisees on Specsavers’ achievements and stressed the importance of franchise partners to the success of the business. “The partnership is led by optometrists, it’s led by optical dispensers and it’s led by retail operators, retail directors in our stores,” she told the packed audience.
“I’ve always said you cannot run retail optics – because that’s what it is now, it’s that funny marrying of the professional side into the fashion side and there’s no other profession that has to do that on the high street… you can’t do that from behind the desk in a head office. It needs the knowledgeable staff out here, it needs you, the partners to be telling us what the customers want. You have to be at the sharp end listening to customers.”
Specsavers has gained 36 per cent share of the prescription spectacle market in Australia and 45 per cent in New Zealand, according to a Roy Morgan poll of over 3,500 consumers reported in early February.
…to date Specsavers had raised AU$800,000 for the Fred Hollows Foundation as a result of fundraising efforts, with an additional $100,000 raised on the evening…
In a farewell speech that received a standing ovation, Specsavers veteran Trent Scanlen, an Australian who started with Specsavers in the UK almost 20 years ago, said the rapid rise of Specsavers in Australia and New Zealand had caught him by surprise. Having joined Specsavers Aust/NZ as retail director in 2008 before taking on two stores as franchise partner in and around Wollongong, he is to move to the United Kingdom to run his own Specsavers practice.
“It’s been an amazing journey down here – Doug and Mary (Perkins) and Derek (Dyson) had the faith in me coming out (to Australia)… it was something I jumped at. I always said we’d get to number one, but I didn’t think it would happen so quickly, that we would rise so fast.”
Dame Mary Perkins described the culture of Specsavers as one that “supports the communities we are in… we give back to the people who have come to see us.” She announced that to date Specsavers had raised AU$800,000 for the Fred Hollows Foundation as a result of fundraising efforts, with an additional $100,000 raised on the evening.
As Gabi Hollows, founder of the Fred Hollows Foundation, was away in Vietnam, her daughter Ruth stepped in to accept the $100,000 donation from the partners. Ms. Hollows said although she was just three whenher father Fred died, her memories of that limited time were no less powerful, and described him with a “gruff voice and wonderful warmth”.
Ms. Hollows showed a video of one of Fred Hollows protégés – Dr. Sanduk Ruit – at work in Cambodia, where he regularly restores sight at a rate of 10 people in just 80 minutes. She said Fred would be speechless to see how far the Foundation had come and what it has achieved.
She said “the partnership between the Foundation and Specsavers is having a massive impact daily… You’re creating the opportunity for the Fred Hollows Foundation to train more doctors, build more hospitals, provide more equipment and provide the thousands of sight restoring operations that we’re out there
to achieve,” she said.
Best of the Best
During the evening, special guest MC Alex Perry awarded the ‘Best of the Best’ Specsavers stores in Australia and New Zealand for 2013. Finalists in New Zealand were Massey, Newmarket and New Lynn Specsavers stores. The winner of the best NZ Specsavers store was Specsavers Newmarket.
In Australia the finalists were Noosa (Queensland); Mount Barker (South Australia) and Midland Gate (West Australia). The winner of the best Australian Specsavers store 2013 was Midland Gate.