Eurovista, an Italian buying group with 97 affiliated optical stores in the North of the country, has merged into Vision Service, making it a clear leader with a total of 761 outlets. The group had already begun a phase of strong organic expansion, growing from 609 in 2004 to 664 doors in 2005, while gradually firming up its commercial strategy, intended to make Vision Service work more like the sophisticated buying groups that operate in France and some other European countries.
Vision Service is already negotiating pricing and other conditions with suppliers in behalf of its retail members, while offering personnel training and other services and selling to them various range of private label products. The opticians affiliated with Vision Service are now being asked to pass orders through the group's central buying office for certain other products and they are being offered the possibility to become its franchisees, if they want to.
Starting in 2007 the franchisees will be able to delegate their re-orders to the central office following the establishment of a logistical network of 15 warehouses spread all over the country and steered by an information technology platform based on a business intelligence system. The new centralized structure is expected to service initially a nucleus of 50 outlets, and depending on results, the process should be gradually extended to cover around one-half of the members.
For the moment, Vision Service finances itself with the members' fees, with the sale to them of its three private labels and from the cash flow and the profits generated by six directly owned stores, which are used to experiment new concepts and new systems. One of these private label ranges, sold under the Vision Service name, has become the third best-selling line for its members, after Ray-Ban and Vogue.
In 2005 the opticians affiliated with Vision Service had total estimated sales of €162.5 million, around 8 percent higher than in 2004 on a same-store basis. The group distributed €310,000 worth of dividends to its 130 shareholders.