MyOptique Group, the U.K. based online retailer that owns Glasses Direct and other e-commerce operations, has raised £8 million (€9.7m-$13.2m) in additional equity in connection with the entry of two new shareholders, Ciplo Partners and GP Bullhound Sidecar. The former investors in the company - Acton Capital Partners, Highland Capital Partners and Index Ventures – participated in the capital increase.
None of the investors has majority control. Ciplo Partners is also an investor in Mysportsgroup and buyVIP, among other properties. GP Bullhound, which has been particularly active in the digital space, continued to act as an adviser in the fund-raising.
Jamie Murray Wells, the young founder and chairman of the company, has sold some of his shares in MyOptique. He is now with Google, working with its retail clients. He has resigned as non-executive director of MyOptique, and his place has been taken over by Maurice Helfgoot, a former member of Marks & Spencer's board and founder and chairman of Amery Capital. An expert in fashion retailing, Helfgott still acts as a senior non-executive director of Moss Brothers. He led the acquisition and reorganization of Oliver Sweeney, a British luxury brand of which he is still the chairman. Kevin Cornils remains in his position of chief executive.
The new round of funding is expected to help the company to finance new acquisitions and to develop its eyewear private labels, London Retro and Scout, which are the fastest-growing brands on the Glasses Direct website.
The British company, which was previously called Prescription Eyewear, has become a full-service provider of eyewear. As we have reported before (Eyewear Intelligence vol. 14-1 and 14-10), it started off as an online retail operation called Glasses Direct in 2005. It subsequently bought SunglassesShop in 2011 and LensOn, a virtual store for contact lenses based in Sweden, in 2012. It also moved into high-end glasses with MyOptique in the same year.
The company became profitable last year and is expected to make a profit again in the financial year ending next April 30. Sales are going up at between 20 and 30 percent a year, with private label and branded prescription frames recording growth of nearly 50 percent.
MyOptique is competing for the leadership in the European online eyewear market with the German-based Mister Spex, which has just announced an annualized turnover of €47 million for the past year. Excluding returns, MyOptique's annualized gross revenues are running at a level of £35 million (€42.6m-$57.6m), with about two-thirds of the turnover coming from seven European markets outside the U.K. It has shipped to more than 800,000 customers so far. On average, it is servicing a new order every 40 seconds.
Earlier this month, MyOptique was picked by the British government as one of the Future 50 companies as part of its Tech City UK program, which opens up the possibility of governmental support for a possible listing on the stock market.