Welcome!

News Feed Item

Visiondirect.co.uk - pioneer of online contact lens sales sees continued growth after 15 years

An overview of the monopoly breaker's foundation, development and continuing success

LONDON, Jan. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Contact lenses were extortionately expensive and unattainable in the UK unless purchased through opticians. Consumers needed and wanted to have cheaper and alternative sources for their replacement lenses. The monopoly of British opticians came to a grinding halt in 1998. An independent operator suddenly emerged and single-handedly managed to impact the UK market.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140117/MN48405)

Steffan Rygaard's pioneering company – Vision Direct – exposed the conspiracy of high-street retailers who guarded a monopoly on the price of contact lenses to further their profit margins.

Despite being a half-Dane, half-Briton raised in Zambia, Steffan Rygaard was an ordinary 26-year-old who finished his studies at Exeter University and had worked a few years as a broker in London's Square Mile. Having noticed his colleagues complaining about their jobs he decided to leave the security of his city job for a more uncertain future as an entrepreneur. He didn't realise that he was embarking on a journey that would shake the British optical industry.

Having considered the options at hand, Steffan Rygaard decided that starting a contact lens mail order company was the way forward. He was inspired by the idea of running his own business, helping people, working with databases, and being able to work from home. VisionDirect was born in a single room just big enough for a desk, a bed, a printer and a few boxes of lenses. No fancy offices, no big investors, no fuss or glory – just a single entrepreneur working hard to deliver contacts at lower prices. The market for lenses had already been transformed in countries like Australia, the United States, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark – so why not the UK as well?

Having taken every precaution possible to ensure that customer health was safeguarded, VisionDirect issued a press release announcing their presence and stating that highly priced contact lenses were now a thing of the past. Unfortunately, the British opticians' lobby group, the G.O.C, was of a different opinion. The idea that a small Battersea-based company that sold contact lenses at outlet prices could revolutionise the market seemed highly unlikely. Even though customers had to present a current prescription of their contact lenses, as well as the packaging of the lenses they were using, and had to have been wearing lenses for more than six months when ordering to get delivery, this was still not enough for the G.O.C.  Within ten months, Vision Direct was forced to shut down operations after a lengthy court ruling. The decision was made to simply continue the business from a place where the G.O.C did not have any jurisdiction.

One of Steffan's prospective customers was a journalist called Oliver James, who wrote the following as part of a column entitled 'One in the eye for competition' in the Independent in May 1998.

"... I was told of a company called Vision Direct from whom I could buy the lenses by post at half the price, a proof that the privatised companies were making a disgraceful mark-up. Until last week I have been an enthusiastic user of this wonderful service. But then, last Thursday, came the news that Vision Direct has been successfully prosecuted by the General Optical Council (GOC).

I called Vision Direct and, to my surprise, the phone was picked up by the company's founder and chairman, Stephan Rygaard. He was audibly depressed and had spent the day receiving hundreds of letters, faxes, phone calls and e-mails expressing fury. Rygaard had lost the case because the GOC, the opticians' trade body, had managed to pull the wool over a short-sighted magistrate's eyes, convincing him that the act of selling a contact lens has to be clinically supervised. On the technicality that because Vision Direct leave it to the honesty of their public to declare whether they have had a test in the past year, the company was held to be failing to act responsibly. What gives the lie to this argument is the simple fact that in Denmark, Germany and several other nations, direct mail lenses have been acceptable for some time."

The logical step for Steffan was to move his business to a place where the GOC had no jurisdiction. The Netherlands emerged as the best logistical candidate. By taking advantage of European legislation and the continued deregulation over the past decade in optics within two months of being forced out of operations, the company arose from the ashes with a new warehouse and a new phone number. Fortunately for the general public, there were now even more organizations that picked up on the idea of selling contact lenses via mail order. Hence all the GOC had really managed to do was to spite its own members by ramping up publicity for irreversible change.

15 years later, VisionDirect is still in business and still shipping from Amsterdam. The company maintains its mission to give their customers the best bargains it can. Today VisionDirect.co.uk is the largest online retailer for replacement contact lenses, proof that persistence does pay dividends.

By keeping overhead costs minimal, VisionDirect has been able to offer prices up to 80% lower than on the high street, so it is little surprise that the company is still flourishing. Additionally, a fully qualified in-house Contact Lens Optician and a UK-qualified registered Optometrist ensure that customers are in highly capable hands. At the end of 2013 the company had a consolidated turnover of €20million, was represented in most European countries, with over 40 employees and a database of plus 500,000 wearers. Again, testament that VisionDirect.co.uk was worth the effort and that our customer base is loyal to our beliefs.

Follow Visiondirect on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and our blog.

Media Contact: Gareth Woods, Visiondirect.co.uk, 084-474-5454, [email protected]

News distributed by PR Newswire iReach: https://ireach.prnewswire.com

SOURCE Visiondirect.co.uk

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ocean9will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ocean9 provides cloud services for Backup, Disaster Recovery (DRaaS) and instant Innovation, and redefines enterprise infrastructure with its cloud native subscription offerings for mission critical SAP workloads.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), will provide an overview of various initiatives to certifiy the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldw...
Adding public cloud resources to an existing application can be a daunting process. The tools that you currently use to manage the software and hardware outside the cloud aren’t always the best tools to efficiently grow into the cloud. All of the major configuration management tools have cloud orchestration plugins that can be leveraged, but there are also cloud-native tools that can dramatically improve the efficiency of managing your application lifecycle.
Providing the needed data for application development and testing is a huge headache for most organizations. The problems are often the same across companies - speed, quality, cost, and control. Provisioning data can take days or weeks, every time a refresh is required. Using dummy data leads to quality problems. Creating physical copies of large data sets and sending them to distributed teams of developers eats up expensive storage and bandwidth resources. And, all of these copies proliferating...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In his Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, will explore t...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Technologic Systems Inc., an embedded systems solutions company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Technologic Systems is an embedded systems company with headquarters in Fountain Hills, Arizona. They have been in business for 32 years, helping more than 8,000 OEM customers and building over a hundred COTS products that have never been discontinued. Technologic Systems’ pr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From ...
The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep up with frenetic pace AWS, Microsoft and Google are rolling out new capabilities In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture at Turner, will posit that disruption is inevitable for c...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a ...
Deep learning has been very successful in social sciences and specially areas where there is a lot of data. Trading is another field that can be viewed as social science with a lot of data. With the advent of Deep Learning and Big Data technologies for efficient computation, we are finally able to use the same methods in investment management as we would in face recognition or in making chat-bots. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Gaurav Chakravorty, co-founder and Head of Strategy Development ...
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
What if you could build a web application that could support true web-scale traffic without having to ever provision or manage a single server? Sounds magical, and it is! In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Munns, Senior Developer Advocate for Serverless Applications at Amazon Web Services, will show how to build a serverless website that scales automatically using services like AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway, and Amazon S3. We will review several frameworks that can help you build serverle...
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Loom Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2015, Loom Systems delivers an advanced AI solution to predict and prevent problems in the digital business. Loom stands alone in the industry as an AI analysis platform requiring no prior math knowledge from operators, leveraging the existing staff to succeed in the digital era. With offices in S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...