Specsavers was founded in 1984 by Doug and Mary Perkins, who started the business in their spare bedroom on a table-tennis table.
The couple had moved to Guernsey after selling a small chain of West Country opticians. In the early 1980s the UK Government deregulated professionals, including opticians, allowing them to advertise their products and services for the first time. They seized the opportunity and opened their first Specsavers, value-for-money, quality eyecare opticians in Guernsey and Bristol, followed shortly by stores in Plymouth, Swansea and Bath. They aimed to offer a wide range of stylish, fashionable glasses at affordable prices for everyone. They wanted the company to be seen as trustworthy an optician as a local independent but with the huge buying power of a national company that meant savings could be passed on to the customer.
The company has grown rapidly since, thriving with its joint venture partnership approach to eyecare. It hit the milestone of 100 stores in July 1988, 200 in 1993, 300 in 1995, 400 in 2000, 500 in 2003, 600 in 2004 and 700 in 2005. The first Netherlands store opened in 1997, the first Swedish in 2004, and 2005 saw the first in Denmark and Norway. In 2006 the first store was opened in Spain, and in 2007 the company began supplying in Australia whilst opening the first store in Finland. In January 2008 Dame Mary Perkins opened the 1000th store in Roosendaal, Holland, followed by the launch on the first three Specsavers stores in Australia in March. By July 2009 there were 173 in Australia plus 24 in New Zealand.
For the past eight years it has been voted Britain’s most-trusted brand of opticians by Reader’s Digest. The current straplines ‘Number One Choice For Eye Tests’ and ‘Number One Choice For Contact Lenses’ reflect its position as market leader. Specsavers’ range includes Tommy Hilfiger, Red or Dead, Osiris, fcuk, Bench, Quiksilver, Roxy, Jasper Conran and Missoni. Our frames are developed using the latest innovative manufacturing and design techniques from the highest quality components and raw materials available. The full range of over 2,000 size and colour options is structured around a comprehensive features and benefits pricing structure, starting from £25 through to £169. Our own lens manufacturing laboratories – three of the largest in Europe – supply the latest high-tech lenses in volume at the lowest possible cost. All Specsavers frames come with free Single Vision Pentax lenses as standard.
Specsavers is also the retail market leader in contact lenses, with its own brand of easyvision monthly and daily disposable lenses, and has also driven the use of continuous-wear lenses. Currently one out of every three UK contact lenses wearers chooses Specsavers. Furthermore, Specsavers is the largest provider of home-delivery contact lenses in Europe through its Lensmail service