Glasses Direct Raises £10 Million of Financing

Posted: 21 April, 2009

Glasses Direct, Europe’s largest online prescription glasses retailer, announced today that it has secured £10m in its second round of funding from an international syndicate of blue chip investors. The deal further supports Glasses Direct’s position as the leader in the fast-growing internet eyewear category as it changes the way people buy glasses by offering significant value together with exceptional service selling prescription glasses online.

Acton Capital Partners, a Munich-based specialist investor in internet and mobile based consumer-oriented businesses, has become the latest investor joining existing Glasses Direct VC shareholders, Index Ventures and Highland Capital Partners who both reinvested in the round. Christoph Braun from Acton will join the Glasses Direct Board.

The new funding will be used for working capital to expand the UK business, increasing the company’s ability to lead the emerging sector in technology and marketing. Glasses Direct will also be using the funding to support a significant push into the US market, as well an exploration into potential European markets. The prescription glasses retail market across Europe and the US (totaling £28.5bn in 2008), with the internet representing the fastest growing market segment.

In the first quarter of 2009, Glasses Direct enjoyed its most successful period in its history, despite the tough retail conditions, shipping tens of thousands of pairs of glasses to UK customers. The company continued its innovation in the sector having launched a home trial programme in March enabling consumers to try-on up to four frames at home before they buy and the business continues to develop its online virtual mirror software which allows customer try on any pair of glasses online. Every order that is processed by Glasses Direct is reviewed by a licensed optician and is quality checked before dispatch.

Glasses Direct stocks over 30 ranges of designer frames including Cavalli and Benetton and has just added collections from Vera Wang and Nicole Farhi.

Founder and Executive Chairman, Jamie Murray Wells said:

“I’m delighted with the success of this fundraise, because with the world class management team we’ve attracted, further capital and Acton’s involvement, we are well on our way to achieving my founding vision for Glasses Direct: a global household brand name synonymous with high quality, great value prescription glasses on the web. ”

Chief Executive Officer, Kevin Cornils said:

“Securing this growth funding from Acton and our existing investors Index and Highland gives us the opportunity to expand our service to even more customers who until now didn’t know how easy and convenient it is to buy glasses online. This includes international expansion where we feel that there is significant opportunity to leverage our success here in the UK.”

Christoph Braun, of Acton Capital Partners said:

“Glasses Direct is a highly innovative and potentially disruptive approach in a very large market. We were particularly impressed by the spirit and the quality of the leadership team at Glasses Direct, and looking forward building the business in the UK and internationally. An important cornerstone of the company going forward will be the continued cooperation with the leading brands in the eyecare industry.”

Saul Klein of Index Ventures said:

“We are delighted to be reinvesting in this round with Glasses Direct, which has continued to innovate and lead the creation of this new market. With a strong team in place they are well positioned to continue their success in creating a global leader in this category.”

Fergal Mullen of Highland Capital Partners said:

“We’ve been very happy with the success of Glasses Direct and are proud to be supporting the company as it grows into a new stage of development. There is tremendous potential to really shake up the industry and Glasses Direct is at the forefront of doing just that.”

First Capital was exclusive financial advisor to Glasses Direct, and Orrick were the company’s lawyers.