The international Spanish-based buying group, which entered the British market at the beginning of 2008, now has nearly 60 associated retailers in the country, and it is following up on many inquiries received by visitors at last month's Optrafair show in Birmingham, where it had its own stand.

Prospective members are apparently attracted by the fact that Cecop is the only buying group that is working with Essilor in the U.K., in addition to other major suppliers such as Hoya, Marchon and Safilo. One of the conditions in the contracts signed by Cecop with them is that the retail member will get 3 percent of its purchases refunded by the supplier if they go over a certain level in the course of the year.

Cecop's expansion on the British market is probably favored in part by the fact that half of the total billings in the sector are made by independent opticians, yet the buying groups are not as strong there as in France or Germany. Cecop has only about 20 members in Germany, a market that it entered only last year.

Cecop also has 1,200 affiliated optical retailers in Spain, 150 in Portugal and 350 in Italy. It doesn't work with the same brands in each country. Members get support for marketing and communication.