Interoptik, a 15-year-old cooperative of Norwegian opticians, has merged with a 3-year-old cooperative, Z:Optikk, forming a new company, Optikk Norge, which has an estimated 34 percent market share in Norway, with an annual retail turnover of about 650 million Norwegian kroner (e80m-$70m). Halvor Bjerke, who has been running Interoptik, will be the managing director of Optikk Norge, which will be the biggest factor in Norwegian optical retailing, ahead of the Sunsam cooperative.

Optikk Norge will replace Interoptik as the Norwegian shareholder in Nordic Optical Partners, with a 25 percent stake. The latter is the Nordic consortium of buying groups formed last year under the management of Jan Herrig in Denmark (see Eyewear Intelligence of last Dec. 30). Herrig had spearheaded one year ago a similar merger of two Danish cooperatives, Profil Optik and Nyt Syn, into a single Danish group, Optik Danmark.

Interoptik, which now has 96 affiliated stores in Norway, will have an 85 percent stake in the new company. Z:Optikk, which has 21 shops, will own the rest. The two banners and formats will be kept distinct, and they will in fact be more differentiated in the future. Interoptik will contribute its private label program and its superior know-how in management processes and structures, while Z:Optikk will make a strong contribution in merchandising. By the end of next year, the partners want to raise to 150 the total number of affiliated stores, with the Z:Optikk format likely to grow faster.