Specsavers has reported a 17.6 percent increase in its annual turnover for its financial year ended Feb. 28. However, in its annual report, published at the end of July, the group said that its total turnover for 2008-09 was up by 15.7 percent to £1.2 billion (€1.4bn-$2.0bn). The annual report claimed that 11.5 million frames had been sold over the year. Company officials could not explain the difference.

Discussing the performance of the group in the various countries, the report said:

· Specsavers in the U.K. made total sales of £828.1 million (€947.3m-$1,380.1m), up by 5.1 percent; 26 new stores opened during the year in the country, bringing the total up to 620.

· Specsavers in the Republic of Ireland made total sales of £55.8 million (€63.8m-$93.0m), up by 2.3 percent, and opened just one new store, bringing the total number of retail outlets up to 33.

· Specsavers Opticiens in the Netherlands generated £76.3 million (€87.3m-$127.2m), up by 63.8 percent after opening six new stores over the year, meaning that the total number has reached 95.

· Specsavers Optik in Sweden made £52.8 million (€60.4m-$88.0m), an increase of 11.8 percent, and opened 11 stores, meaning that the total number has reached 84.

· Specsavers Optikk in Norway generated sales worth £42.1 million (€48.2m-$70.2m), up by just 1.9 percent, and opened eight new stores to bring the total number up to 57.

· Louis Nielsen in Denmark made £49.3 million (€56.4m-$82.2m), up by 9.2 percent, and opened six new stores, with the number of retail outlets rising to 50.

· Specsavers Optikko in Finland made £23.6 million (€27.0m-$39.3m) and opened 70 stores over the year, bringing the number of retail outlets up to 89.

· Specsavers Opticas in Spain made £2.5 million (€2.9m-$4.2m) and counts three stores.

· Specsavers Optometrists in Australia generated sales of £50.2 million (€57.4m-$83.7m) and opened 154 stores, adding to the three already existing, while Specsavers Optometrists in New Zealand opened 13 stores over the 2008-09 period.

The group has attributed its strong results during the recession to consumers seeking professional and good-quality eye care at value-for-money prices. Indeed, John Perkins, Specsavers' joint managing director, said that the group had continued to invest heavily and had attracted significantly more customers during the credit crunch.

The group tested 5.9 million people's eyes in 2008; 70 percent of those examinations were on the National Health Service. (In Britain, eye care is free thanks to the NHS plan for children under 16, students in full-time education up to the age of 19, and people with a family history of glaucoma or diabetes.) So far this year, Specsavers has carried out 3.1 million eye tests, which means that the company is on target to better last year's figures.

Over the last financial year, Specsavers' market share in the U.K. rose to 38 percent. It rolled out 173 stores in Australia and 24 in New Zealand since launching there in 2008.

The group plans to have 2,000 profitable stores worldwide by 2012. It intends to open nearly 200 stores in the coming year, of which 35 will be in the U.K. and the rest overseas.

Doug Perkins, father of John and founder of Specsavers, who has spent the last two years leading the expansion in Australasia, said the group's global buying power increased, and that it was seeking new opportunities for further global expansion. The focus is on countries where people are paying too much for eye care, and have poor choice and service.

In another development, Specsavers is deploying specialized keyboards from Electrone Europe, a custom-built IT peripherals vendor, in all its new stores in the U.K., in addition to the new Specsavers stores in Australia and Finland. The retailer is deploying Electrone's 9001 mini keyboards as well as full-size Electrone 7900 wireless business keyboards in eye-testing rooms in stores around the world.

Specsavers now counts more than 1,370 stores across the Channel Islands, the U.K., the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.