At a recent For Eyes opening in Doral, Fla., Greg
Herrera (l), director of operations, with chief
executive officer Jose Costa after a
ribbon-cutting event.
MIRAMAR, Fla.—It looks like 2018 will be a busy year for For Eyes, the U.S. unit of GrandVision N.V. The U.S. group plans to open up to 25 new locations over the next seven months, which will add about 20 percent to its existing retail base of about 120 locations across the U.S.

“We have a very aggressive growth plan for 2018 and 2019,” For Eyes chief executive officer Jose Costa said during a conference call with media representatives late last month. “We’re going to open about 25 locations between now and the end of the year, and we’re starting our franchise platform.”

He did not provide details on the company’s 2019 expansion plans. GrandVision, the world’s largest optical retail company, acquired For Eyes in December 2015.

Costa said about five of the new locations that open before year’s end will be franchised units, while the other 20 will be corporate-owned For Eyes stores. It will mark the optical retainer’s first foray into the franchising business. In the Vision Monday ranking of Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailers, For Eyes stood at No. 15 for the year ended in December 2017, with estimated annual sales of $111 million.

For GrandVision, “one of the last markets to conquer is North America, and that’s why we are very, very excited to reposition For Eyes and to grow very aggressively in the U.S. and Canada in the years to come,” Costa said. “We have the full support from our global board and our global CEO, and we are very excited about our bright future in the U.S.”

The 25 For Eyes store openings will be in 11 states where the company already operates, Costa said. These states are scattered along the East Coast, Midwest (including Illinois) and California. For Eyes also operates about five optical stores in Puerto Rico and its lab—which fulfills all U.S. orders—is located in Florida.

“We are in the process of rethinking how we go to market,” Costa said during the call. “And we are investing in a lot of new technology for the stores.” He noted that For Eyes also has rolled out new television advertising in the Chicago market as it shifts advertising dollars from digital media to more traditional channels.

In combination with the new-store openings, Costa said that beginning in June or July all stores will be equipped with new technology from Optikam, which will be called iMeter in For Eyes locations, Costa said. Optikam’s measurement device obtains eyewear measurements that “take into account how the frame will be worn by the patient once dispensed,” according to the supplier company’s website. “These personalized ‘as-worn’ measurements allow lens designs to be customized to take into account vertex distance, pantoscopic tilt and frame wrap.” As-worn measurements improve monocular pupillary distance (PD) measurements as well, Optikam said.

According to Costa, For Eyes will be able to offer “state-of-the-art lenses to all of our patients” once the Optikam technology is implemented.

In addition, he noted that For Eyes has signed a partnership deal with Topcon Medical Systems that calls for the New Jersey-based equipment supplier to rollout new digital equipment to all For Eyes locations by the end of 2019. Topcon is a developer and supplier of diagnostic equipment for the ophthalmic community.

Separately, For Eyes has added to its senior-level executive team, with Maria Griffith taking on the role of vice president of managed vision care and Magda Nogueras named as vice president of professional services. Jorge Afonso is the vice president of store operations and procurement.

Building the managed vision care piece of the business is one of the goals of the new For Eyes management team. Griffith will be working toward quadrupling the size of that business over the next couple of years, Costa said. “One of the first things she did is to come up with what we call Perks for Eyes, which is our platform for small businesses that cannot necessarily offer vision benefits.” The Perks for Eyes program enables these small businesses to offer discounted eye exams, products and services to their employees. “This is getting a lot of traction,” Costa said, noting success with the program in Illinois and south Florida, among other markets. “We’re looking forward to helping more small businesses as we continue to grow that platform,” he added.

In the merchandising area, Costa said many of the For Eyes’ “exclusive brands are sourced via GrandVision through Europe and “they have the best material in the industry. When it comes to technology on both the product and the lens side, there is a lot of really good things coming for For Eyes,” he added.

For Eyes was founded in 1972 in Philadelphia and has grown to a company with more than 860 associates across its operations throughout the U.S.