Wal-Mart and 1-800 CONTACTS Form Alliance

NEW YORK--The top executive at Wal-Mart’s optical division views the company’s new agreement with 1-800 CONTACTS as a "key step in our overall commitment to help Americans gain access to affordable health care solutions."

Noted Jeff McCallister, senior vice president of Wal-Mart’s optical division, including Wal-Mart and Sam’s Clubs, in an exclusive interview with Vision Monday, "We truly believe our charge is to cause a shift, a shift to help people better understand preventative health care solutions. And eyecare is one area where we have so much education to do, where we have an opportunity to better educate the 130 million to 150 million people who pass through our stores. We’re very excited about the 1-800 CONTACTS and Wal-Mart alliance. We think it’s exactly what patients want and need--convenience, access and greater value."

McCallister emphasized, "We see the contact lens category as an important one for our business. There are 36 million contact lens users today and a vast majority shop our stores and clubs for contact lenses and for contact lens solutions. They see our stores as the best place for values. This arrangement gives consumers and patients what they’re asking for, such as, ’How do I reduce the inconvenience? How can I get the lenses I need?’"

He added, "Where state laws provide, we sell replacement lenses ourselves in our stores and in our clubs and we have had a small business online. As you know, contact lenses are continuing to grow with technological innovations, such as silicone hydrogels, and we continue to benefit from that. This is a category where consumers have a lot of choice. Price does matter and as we get into the planning process, we’ll look to see how we can bring even more savings, taking the efficiencies we both enjoy in the business to translate that into more savings to the consumer."

"Our $4 prescription program is proof that Wal-Mart is committed to meeting America’s healthcare challenges. Our commitment to affordable eyecare is no different," said Dr. John Agwunobi, senior vice president and president for Wal-Mart’s professional services division.