George & Matilda eye-care retailer hits 70 stores

By Sarah Stowe | 01 Apr 2019 View comments

Eye-care retailer George & Matilda has reached a milestone 70 practices onboarded in Australia, having recently seen businesses in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales join the group.

The business’ model, which has united optometrists under a branded banner since its inception in 2016, is the key to its success according to chief executive Chris Beer.

“We pride ourselves on being a home for any practice that is focused on delivering the best care for their patients, no matter how they do so,” Beer said.

“This makes for a very varied and diverse group of partners, which we believe is our key strength.”

Optometry partners

According to Beer, the firm’s ability to listen and learn from its partners to gather information which can then be filtered through its marketing, supply chain and business support structures has resulted in “fantastic results at a time when a lot of retail is hurting.”

Partner at Prime Vision Care Centre in Oakleigh and Ormond Steve Wakeling, which recently joined George & Matilda, noted the firms investment in marketing and supply chain performance enabled his business to focus on its patients – ensuring better customer support.

Industry analysis firm IBISWorld estimates Optometry and Optical Dispensing industry to be worth approximately $3.7 billion in Australia, with an annual growth of 2.9 per cent between 2014-19.

Eye-care retailer with service

Much of this success is due to the industry’s distinct mix of retail and service elements, according to IBISWorld senior industry analyst Liam Harrison.

“With around half of Australians requiring glasses, there is a large market for industry services,” Harrison told IR.

“Combining traditional retail with service elements has helped the industry both remain relevant and protect its profitability at a time when consumers are looking to reduce their expenditure where they can.”

However, with businesses offering the purchase of eye-wear online, the offering of service elements may not be mandatory to survive in the industry, Harrison argues.

Looking forward, Beer states the next year will be transformative for George & Matilda.

“We started this business with the vision to help the world see better by supporting and uniting local independents to build the best optometry community,” Beer said.

“It’s a big ambition, but we have invested the time and resources to create something that can bring about meaningful change for the industry in the long term.”