MyOptique Group, Announces £8 Million in Funding, and Names Chairman

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LONDON— MyOptique Group Ltd., one of Europe’s leading online optical retailers selling prescription glasses ( Glasses Direct and MyOptique), sunglasses ( Sunglasses Shop) and contact lenses ( LensOn), 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, the company said.

Joining MyOptique Group 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. MyOptique’s former director and chairman, Jamie Murray Wells, has stepped away from those roles, 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, 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, it points out, are the fastest growing brands on Glasses Direct and which will be further developed as part of the expansion plans.

This year, the MyOptique Group is in its second year of profitability, the company said, adding that it is expecting to achieve gross retail sales revenues of over £35 million, or approximately $57 million. 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 U.K. market, and the introduction of a new London Retro Collection, titled Metropolitan.

The group also received a major boost and recognition earlier this month when it was named one of the Future Fifty. Part of the Government’s Tech City UK initiative, the program is designed to enable the “most promising growth-stage businesses to scale and reach their full potential’” and offers bespoke access to senior Government and private sector expertise and support, including preparation for a stock market listing.

Kevin Cornils, CEO, 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, as well as the recognition of Tech City UK’s Future Fifty initiative. We are very honored to be included among this list of amazing companies in the Future Fifty and this kind of assistance is going to be invaluable as the MyOptique Group looks to continue to revolutionize the optical retail market. 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.”

Helfgott added, “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 U.K. and across Europe.”