Philip Mullins recently joined National Eyecare Group, the UK's largest purchasing organization for independent opticians, in the new role of business development manager. The goal is to develop new programs and services for the group's 900-odd members, which have more than 1,100 stores, representing about 10 percent of the highly concentrated and competitive British eyewear market.
There are no plans to adopt a common corporate identity on the model of certain other buying groups on the Continent. Launched in 1979 and run by a small staff headed up by Michael Daunt, National Eyecare is purely a purchasing group. Its members feel that they make a difference with the big chains by offering different products in diverse settings, working in some cases with suppliers who refuse to work with the chains. It has been running a private label program for contact lenses which will now be expanded, including daily disposable and toric lenses.
While sounding out members about new products and services that could be offered centrally, Mullins has launched a 12-month promotion program involving some specific suppliers in special offers for National Eyecare's members, in some cases supported by advertising and other selling aids. The first promotions concern a range of discounted Kodak lenses and frame displays by Top Vision.
Mullins, who started off at Boots, is a veteran of the eyewear industry. Prior to his latest assignment he worked with the Norville Group as product manager for Seiko and as manager of two optical stores owned by the company.