Italy's largest buying group ? Vision Service, which has a total of 853 stores ? has begun a major €2 million renovation job to make the group's outlets more attractive to the consumer. Along with improvements in design, materials, IT systems and promotional material, the heart of the operation is a new banner, VisionOttica, which aims to create a powerful corporate identity while maintaining the identity of the individual outlets. The new banner is the final act in a modernization process that focuses both on store format and the quality and professionalism of the opticians' services, leaving them free to concentrate on service to the customer.
To date, 203 members of the group have signed up, 101 of which have already gone through the required procedure and adopted the new group banner. The other 102 are currently completing the process at the rate of seven stores per month, going through to 2010.
In addition to this initiative focusing on the consumer, and consequently on the sell-out, a parallel process is aimed at integrating the sell-in. Some 103 members have joined the scheme for this purpose, although not all of them have adopted the new banner. The emphasis is on full integration of the purchasing process: Every evening the outlets send in the data on the day's sales, which are processed during the night so that the stores' reorder requirements can be dealt with directly and with no delay.
The group's 2008 revenues amounted to a total of €205 million in terms of sell-out and around €68 million in terms of sell-in. Compared with the first months of 2009, the stores that have already implemented the modernization process have posted increased revenues, in spite of the global economic crisis.
Vision Service and Salmoiraghi & Vigano have a joint venture called Kentral, a super-sized centralized buying consortium that negotiates terms and conditions with the major national and multinational eyewear producers. The two retail chains and the major producers have now decided to establish a new «Indicod» standard to categorize eyewear and optical products. A joint committee of experts has been created to implement the project.