The acquisition of five new practices in Victoria and one in Canberra is “just the beginning” of a rapid expansion for EyeQ Optometrists and TheNational Optical Care Company (NOC).
With more acquisitions in the pipeline, Lily Wegrzynowski, General Manager Eyecare and Professional Services, says the group is “moving in the right direction” with positive growth that will create opportunities for EyeQ/NOC as well as the optometrists and staff working in the acquired practices.
Ms Wegrzynowski said five of six practices known as ‘The Spectacle Site’ from Melbourne have joined EyeQ and will maintain their original business name. Specialeyes from Canberra will also retain its business name as these businesses are well known in their respective communities.
With more acquisitions in the pipeline, Lily Wegrzynowski… says the group is ‘moving in the right direction’ with positive growth that will create opportunities
“The practices choosing to join EyeQ/NOC do so for a variety of reasons, some as part of their succession plan. We are at a time when a lot of the optometrists who graduated in the 70s – a period considered to be the golden era of our profession – are now preparing for retirement, and while they want to sell, they don’t necessarily want to stop practising. Our model is enabling them to do that, which in turn enables them to maintain – or even expand – their connections with the profession and their network.”
While none of the practice owners who have sold to EyeQ/NOC suggested that COVID-19 played a role in their decision, Ms Wegrzynowski believes the pandemic provided practice owners right across the country time to think about their future.
“I believe many have asked themselves whether they would be prepared to go through a similar experience again on their own, or whether they’d prefer to de-risk by joining a bigger group that offers structure and support.
“Once they’ve made that decision, it’s a case of choosing the ‘tribe’ they want to sell to and continue working with.”
Having acquired or released its franchised practices EyeQ’s new model of practice acquisitions is ‘back to the future’.
“Our original model, back in 2007 was to form an independent optometry group within a corporate structure that provided the best of both worlds. Acquired practices maintained their own brands and we were building economies of scale that would deliver better profitability. That’s what we’re doing again now and it’s exciting to think of the opportunities that will come from building a stronger community of practices that is more evenly represented across the eastern seaboard,” Ms Wegrzynowski explained.
“Life becomes easier for optometrists that move to a model like ours. The pressure of ownership is removed and they have more time to spend with their patients. As a group, we provide administration, marketing and technology expertise that they’ve never had before, which unlocks new opportunities for efficiencies and practice building.”
Ms Wegrzynowski said we can expect more announcements of acquisitions over the coming months.