Kentral, an Italian buying group established in 2007 by Salmoiraghi & Viganò and Vision Service to federate other independent optical retailers, has joined Garro, the European buying group created in 2006 by Guilde des Lunetiers of France and Cione of Spain. The result is a stronger international organization with 5,600 outlets in three European countries, whose dimensions and economic capacity give it the clout and bargaining power of integrated multinational retail organizations such as Hal or Specsavers.

The independent retailers affiliated with the three buying organizations expect to get benefits not only in terms of margins, discounts and private label programs, but also by sharing their experience and knowledge in logistics, IT systems and distribution.

The integration process is under way, with contacts already in place to set up partnership deals with some of the major suppliers of frames, sunglasses, ophthalmic lenses and contact lenses. The scope of the agreements may range from the optimization of reorders to marketing initiatives on a supranational scale ? for example, the launch of certain products or the development of exclusive models for Garro's members.

Guilde des Lunetiers has 3,210 affiliated stores in France, Cione has 944 of them in Spain and Kentral has 1,397 in Italy. The stores belong to independent opticians that are either individual members or belong to cooperatives such as Krys in France.

Garro says it is open to welcome other buying groups or chains that are leaders in their respective countries.