Nationwide Optometrist Network Launches
Sixty-five independent optometrists throughout New Zealand have today begun trading under the newly established Visique brand.
Launched by Optical Holdings Limited (OHL), which has invested $600,000 in the new venture, Visique’s mandate is to develop the businesses of independent optometrist members by educating New Zealanders about the importance of eye health care.
According to General Manager Dianne McAteer, Visique will focus on creating a unified and coordinated network of professionals dedicated to providing quality eye health services to New Zealanders.
“We have a real concern for the future of independent optometry in this country in the face of a growing number of overseas chains which could, with the prospect of de-regulation, become more active here. As their focus tends to be predominantly ‘bottom line’ the result could be to the detriment of this country’s visual health and well-being,” she said.
A key point of differentiation for the Visique brand is that as owner-operated businesses, the standard and continuity of care will be enhanced, with a ‘sight for life’ approach for all patients. All participating members must belong to the New Zealand Association of Optometrists and abide by that organisation’s professional, ethical and continuing education standards.
“While they will remain independent operators, involvement with Visique will provide access to leading-edge technology and business advantages that ordinarily wouldn’t be available to sole traders.
“Being part of a national network will also provide those that want to retain their independence with a strong brand based on the importance of eye health care to counteract the impact of local and international competition that is starting to erode their once strong share of a $140 million market,” Dianne McAteer said.
Local and international research conducted prior to the decision to proceed with Visique showed there was an opportunity in creating a ‘one stop’ eye health care identity.
“There were a number of successful overseas models which we studied before conducting our own research. The key message we found was that optometrists wanted to retain their autonomy but also wanted the profile that being part of a recognised brand could bring. Our findings also told us there were clear opportunities of owning the more ‘serious’ side of eye health care as well as the ‘fashion’ side of eye wear solutions.
“We concluded that a coordinated chain of independents operating under a single brand would help to protect and grow market share as well as educate the public,” she said.
The initial group of participating optometrists will provide comprehensive national coverage. New members, as long as they meet the entry criteria, will be encouraged to join to ensure an extensive nationwide network is achieved. Visique expects eventually to have up to 100 members.