MyOptique Group announces £8 million funding and new Chairman

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MyOptique Group, Europe’s leading online optical retailer selling prescription glasses (Glasses Direct, MyOptique), sunglasses (Sunglasses Shop) and contact lenses (LensOn), today announced it has secured £8 million in investment and appointed a new Chairman to bolster its aggressive international expansion plans.

The round was led by existing investors Acton Capital Partners, Highland Capital Partners and Index Ventures, who were joined by new investors Cipio Partners and GP Bullhound Sidecar, and will be used to fund both further growth and potential acquisitions.

Joining as Chairman is Maurice Helfgott, founder and Chairman of Amery Capital, the leading advisor and investor company to digital, retail and consumer businesses, current Senior Independent non-executive director of LSE-listed Moss Bros and former Marks & Spencer Main Board Executive Director. Jamie Murray Wells steps down as Director and Chairman following the sale of the majority of his shares to Cipio Partners.

The MyOptique Group includes several market-leading sites in the online optical market and was rebranded from Prescription Eyewear Ltd earlier this year to reflect that it is now a full service optical provider across all key categories. Launched originally in 2005 as Glasses Direct, which offers a high service, excellent value proposition for prescription glasses, it acquired Sunglasses Shop, Europe’s largest premium online sunglasses retailer, in 2011. A year later the group launched MyOptique.com, a highly curated premium optical boutique, and also acquired LensOn AB, the leading online contact lenses retailer in Northern Europe. The company has also developed two leading eyewear brands, London Retro and Scout, which are the fastest growing brands on Glasses Direct and which will be further developed as part of the expansion plans.

This year the group, now in its second year of profitability, is expected to achieve Gross Retail Sales of revenues of over £35 million ($57m). The past 12 months has seen the launch of sunglasses and prescription eyewear on LensOn in the Nordic market, the launch of LensOn contact lenses into the UK market, and the introduction of a new London Retro Collection, titled Metropolitan.

Kevin Cornils, Chief Executive, commented: “2013 has been a busy year for us at the MyOptique Group, so it’s great to see the support of our existing and new investors. We now have a full service optical business that spans eight European markets, have served over 800,000 customers, shipping an order every 40 seconds. We’re also thrilled to have Maurice joining us to bring his wealth of experience in fashion retailing as well as public company experience as we accelerate our growth efforts.”

Maurice Helfgott has overseen many extremely successful acquisitions and international growth expansions as well as acting as adviser on strategic marketing, brand strategy, new business development and governance for many high profile companies. Within the Amery portfolio, he currently serves as Chairman of Long Tall Sally where he led the acquisition and restructuring of the business, trebling turnover and taking it into profit. He is also Chairman of the luxury footwear brand, Oliver Sweeney, where he again led the acquisition and turnaround. He started his career as a trainee at Marks & Spencer, rising to Executive Director Food, then Clothing and Home, and serving on the Main Board.

Commenting on his appointment, Maurice Helfgott noted: “I am delighted to be joining the MyOptique Group in this exciting time of growth for the company. The online opportunity in the sector is absolutely enormous, and the team has positioned the business tremendously well to ensure they emerge as the leader. I’m looking forward to working with the board and management to further accelerate its expansion in the UK and across Europe.”

MyOptique’s investor partners include a number of Europe’s standout businesses among their past and present rosters: Acton Capital (My Theresa, Zooplus, Etsy, windeln.de, KupiVIP), Highland Capital Partners (Vistaprint, PhotoBox, Moonpig, Matches Fashion), Index Ventures (ASOS, net-a-porter, Skype, Lovefilm, Farfetch), and Cipio Partners (eCircle, Mysportgroup, Bravofly, buyVIP). GP Bullhound advised on the deal.

Tony Zappalamyoptique