Rodenstock is forecasting that its new franchising venture for optical practices in the UK will generate a multi-million pound business over the next five years. It is promoting the venture as ?Quality without Compromise,? without imposing its own products. The company estimates that it will generate over £20 million (€29.4m-$40.0m) by 2012 and extend its share of the UK optical market for premium products.

Rodenstock is targeting its StarClub practices, existing upmarket independents and opticians that already have franchises with some of Rodenstock's competitors who might want to switch to Rodenstock instead. For a fee, the franchising agreement will give the partners a business support package for marketing, payroll, accounting and auditing. The franchisees will receive a ?significant portion? of frames and other products from Rodenstock at special conditions.

Rodenstock is adopting the co-branding, double-banner route, whereby the optician's banner appears alongside that of Rodenstock. Following a successful prototype store in Hamburg, Rodenstock is beginning its UK venture with Allders Opticians, which is fully owned by Rodenstock and has 15 stores in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

The company says that it is offering a tailored partnership approach that will take the individual practice's needs into account. The emphasis is on the ?freedom to operate the way you want,? with a focus on the quality of the product rather on aggressive pricing. Rodenstock says the level of interest has been ?excellent? and that it has already received inquiries from practices that are feeling dissatisfied with their current franchising agreements with some of Rodenstock's competitors. The aim is for two or three opticians to convert to the double banner this year, followed by ten more in 2008.

The business plan is part of Rodenstock's expansion plans, which have been supported by Bridgepoint Capital. The investment company, which has also become the major shareholder in Alain Afflelou in France, acquired the German eyewear company from Permira Funds in January this year.