Nordic Optical Partners, a consortium of buying groups that control an estimated 22-23 percent of the optical market in the Nordic countries, plans to approach suppliers in the course of 2000 to develop a common private brand of optical lenses, contact lenses and solutions that can be sourced by all the retail members on an OEM basis at favorable conditions. A consultant remitted a report on the subject one month ago.

Led by Jan Herrig, the Danish executive who runs the newly formed Optik Danmark buying group as well, Nordic Optical Partners also plans to adopt in most of the member countries Optik Danmark's own successful Sand private label of frames, manufactured in Italy and Japan (for titanium frames), and other exclusive products. Optik Danmark's partners are Interoptik in Norway, Din Optiker in Sweden and the 2-year-old Tähti Optikko group in Finland, which has already 115 franchised opticians.

In addition to Sand, Optik Danmark has the exclusive right to market Calvin Klein and Donna Karan eyewear in Denmark, and it's set to do the same with Lantis Eyewear's Tommy Hilfiger brand in the year 2000. Interoptik has already introduced the Sand private label and the Calvin Klein range in Norway, while Tähti Optikko is introducing the Donna Karan range into Finland.

Born last April out of the merger of the two major Danish buying groups, Profil Optik and Nyt Syn, Optik Danmark is now the major factor in Denmark. With 154 affiliated stores that have an aggregate turnover of 675 million Danish crowns (e91m) before VAT representing one-third of the market, it's a formidable competitor against the country's two integrated chains, Synoptik and Thiele.

Nyt, whose members have sales of only 275 million DK (e37m), has basically moved into Profil's headquarters, sharing purchasing, administration and logistics, but marketing and mechandising remain separate. Nyt and Profil each own 50 percent of Optik Danmark. Each has 3 members on Optik Danmark's board of directors, which is run by an outsider.

Private label and exclusive products make up about 40 percent of Profil's turnover. They are only 20 percent of Nyt's turnover, but they are expected to grow in importance, as is certainly going to be the case for the other Nordic partners. Optik Danmark's logistic platform should also help all the Nordic partners to recruit new members among the independent opticians in their respective countries.