Britain's largest optical retailer reports a 5.1 percent sales increase on a same-store basis in 2002 for its 670 joint venture partners, which ran a total of 491 stores by the end of last year. The number of affiliated stores grew by 50, half of which were secured by a newly established specialist acquisition team. Specsavers Opticians held a steady 27 percent market share in the UK, according to a GfK consumer audit released last September, nearly twice that of its two nearest competitors, Boots Opticians and Dollond & Aitchison.

Specsavers, which is also present in Ireland, says it consolidated its third ranking in the Dutch market through a total of 40 practices as of the end of last year. The company is now expanding into the hearing aid market, worth an estimated £100 million (e150m-$160m) a year in the UK, with the recent acquisition of Hearcare. The business plan calls for the establishment of 100 new private hearing aid centers in the country over the next 4 years.

The target of 500 affiliated optical stores is approaching rapidly. To help develop the network further in the UK and abroad, Doug and Mary Perkins, the founders of Specsavers based on the island Guernsey, have appointed their 31-year-old son, John Perkins, to the new position of commercial development manager.

Specsavers is setting aside £50 million (e74m-$80m) in partner profits and bonuses for the past year, slightly down from the previous year's level of £53 million (e79m-$84m). Group sales rose by 12 percent in 2002 to £490 million (e727m-$781m) and are expected to grow to more than £530 million (e786m-$845m) this year. The average turnover per store reached almost £1.1 million (e1.6m-$1.8m) in 2002, and its store network recently recorded sales of £10 million (e15m-$16m) in just one week.