CHICAGO—Europa Eyewear, a family-owned designer and manufacturer of proprietary eyewear frames, is announcing its partnership with Blue Point Capital Partners, a Midwest investment firm. According to that announcement, "Blue Point Capital has made a meaningful investment in Europa to fuel its growth and expansion." Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Founded by Alan and Cynthia Shapiro in 1977 and led today by the founders’ son Scott Shapiro, Europa is one of the largest independent eyewear companies in the U.S.

Employing a unique model within the industry, nearly all of the company’s frame collections are proprietary trade and consumer brands supported by a fully employed sales force. Europa’s focus on serving the independent optical market has garnered the company best-in-class customer relationships, exceptional loyalty and above-market growth for decades, the statement pointed out.

“Blue Point’s industry-focused operating executives, optical experience and differentiated capabilities made partnering with them an easy choice,” said Europa CEO Scott Shapiro. “From the beginning, it was clear that Blue Point shared our vision for the future, but even more importantly, they shared our values. This was imperative given Europa’s unique culture and the role this plays in shaping the next chapter of our family’s legacy. Jerry and I are incredibly excited to work alongside the Blue Point team in this next chapter.”

“Over the past 46 years, Europa has provided our customers with best-in-class service and exceptional eyewear collections," said Europa president Jerry Wolowicz. "The launch of premier eyewear brands STATE and American Optical, which are both manufactured in our state-of-the-art facility in Illinois, clearly positions us for our next stage of growth. Together, Europa and Blue Point are committed to strengthening the tremendous value and service we provide to our customers as well as expanding our product portfolio to address the needs of today’s consumers.”

This investment is supported by Blue Point’s decades of experience working with family-owned businesses and its deep knowledge of the optical space, underpinned by its previous transformative investment in Hilco Vision, a global leader in the distribution of optical products and accessories. (Blue Point invested in Hilco Vision in 2014, made several investments to expand its business, exiting in 2019.)

In addition to Blue Point’s industry experience and value added capabilities, Jeff Cole and Holly Rush, two highly accomplished industry leaders, will serve as advisors and board members to the company, while providing guidance to the Europa management team, the announcement said.

“Europa is an outstanding company—we are proud to support its leadership team, further strengthen its exceptional culture and provide a platform for growth by leveraging Blue Point’s value-added capabilities and future M&A,” said Blue Point principal Evan Cottington.

Europa offers a diverse portfolio of 11 independent eyewear brands, including STATE (launched in 2015) and American Optical Eyewear, which the company acquired in 2019. Europa also built and maintains the largest eyewear manufacturing facility in the U.S.

Blue Point Capital Partners is a private investment firm with more than two decades of experience partnering with lower middle-market businesses to achieve growth. With resources in Cleveland, Charlotte, Seattle and Shanghai, Blue Point provides the strategic and economic insights of a global organization as well as the benefits of a regional firm.

Blue Point’s portfolio is supported by its toolkit, which includes innovative global supply chain, data and digital and human capital strategies, focused add-on acquisition efforts and the firm’s extensive network of operating resources.

Rush has over three decades of experience in the health care and consumer sectors and has spent the last 10 years in key leadership roles within the optical industry, previously serving as president of Luxottica Wholesale N.A. and CEO of Costa del Mar. Her success is built on leading companies through significant transformation, catalyzing growth and building exceptional cultures and teams.

Rush now serves as a strategic advisor to CEOs, is a board member for several organizations, including Europa Eyewear, and actively advocates for the advancement of women in leadership as a coach and mentor.

Cole has over 40 years of optical retail and wholesale experience, and was formerly chairman and CEO of Cleveland-based Cole National, one of the largest optical companies in N.A. which included Pearle Vision, Target Optical and others. Additionally, he co-founded Pearle Europe (now known as GrandVision), based in Amsterdam, which he helped grow to over 7,500 stores, 45 countries and $3 billion in revenue over 25 years.

He remains active in the industry, including serving on the board of Hilco Vision until Blue Point’s sale of the business in 2019, and is a long-standing board member for Safilo Group and Revo. Cole is also a trustee of the Cleveland Clinic, where The Cole Eye institute is named after him.