Salmoiraghi & Viganò, Italy's leading optical retail chain, will soon have a presence in pharmacies in a pilot project in partnership with Essere e Benessere, a retail chain specialized in pharmaceuticals and hygiene products. It will do so under its low-cost VistaSì banner.

Just before last Christmas, the eyewear chain opened a VistaSì corner in Essere e Benessere's San Carlo City Store on Corso Europa 12 in Milan, where clients will be able to have their eyes tested free of charge by professional opticians. Other VistaSi corners are scheduled to open in the next few months in the main City Store Essere Benessere outlets in other Italian cities.

Essere e Benessere currently has 143 locations in Italy, including 55 directly-owned or franchised pharmacies, 7 parapharmacies, 26 hypermarket corners and 55 City Stores, a new format, based on an Anglo-Saxon model, with flexible opening hours and selling non-prescription pharmaceutical products, cosmetics, perfumes, books, newspapers. It also has a food department, run in partnership with Unes and Carrefour.

Founded in Milan in 1998, Essere e Benessere is owned by FD Consultants, a holding company that operates in the pharmaceutical, financial, logistics, commercial, distribution and health sectors.

Many Italian drugstores already sell readers. Salmoiraghi wants to extend the offer to more sophisticated prescription eyewear, somewhat like Boots in the U.K., which has partnered with Dollond & Aitchison.

VistaSì is the largest chain of low-cost eyewear shops in Italy, with 60 stand-alone stores and about 70 optical retail counters in various hypermarket stores. Meanwhile, Salmoiraghi has opened its 14th store in Milan at Corso Genova 4.