CECOP Acquires Alliance Buying Group as It Continues to Grow North American Market Presence


Ignacio Macias, chief executive of CECOP North America.

MONMOUTH, Ill.—CECOP, a global association of independent opticians and optometrists, has acquired The Alliance Buying Group (ABG), which is based here, from Surgery Partners Inc., according to an announcement this week. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Surgery Partners, a public company, acquired The Alliance via its 2011 purchase of NovaMed, as VMAIL  reported. For CECOP, the deal represented its second acquisition in the U.S. market over the past nine months. It acquired Combine Buying Group in May 2020, as VMAIL reported

In its announcement, CECOP said the recent transaction represents “an important milestone in the company’s growth strategy in the U.S. market,” and is part of an aggressive strategy to acquire significant market share in North America and demonstrate its commitment to the U.S. market.

CECOP now serves more than 3,000 independent optical stores and optometry practices with “profit-optimizing services,” the announcement noted. Ignacio Macias, chief executive of CECOP North America, told VMAIL that the group’s membership covers about 20 percent of the optical buying group market in the U.S. The group also said the Combine Buying Group has achieved 40 percent net revenue growth in the nine months since its acquisition by CECOP.

Asked about the next steps for ABG and Combine, Macias said, “We’re not going to change things. We want to give peace of mind to both the members and the vendors. We can say that because we are growing, we will give even better deals to our members and better services."

“To accomplish these accelerated results, CECOP has leveraged proven strategies for success gleaned from nearly 25 years of growth in the independent optical market globally, plus market insights locally, delivering unmatched value to members and partner suppliers across the U.S.,” the announcement stated.

“CECOP will work hard to prove our value to The Alliance Buying Group members,” CECOP founder and chief executive officer Jorge Rubio said in the announcement. “With our quick success operating Combine Buying Group, we’ve validated that our business model delivers meaningful impact for opticians and optometrists in the U.S.”

He added, “We are committed to continue bringing the advancements we’ve developed in the European and Latin American markets to our new North American customers and know that they’ll benefit significantly from the solutions we have planned.”

Macias noted that CECOP is excited about the acquisition and “looks forward to additional acquisitions expected in 2021.”

He added, “We are continually growing the network of manufacturers and brands that cater to members across the U.S. … We know that independent optometrists across North America will find in our community a fundamental place of collaboration to successfully overcome market challenges and provide great value to patients.”

Founded in 1996 as an alliance to help independent opticians compete with larger, corporate providers and retailers, CECOP has evolved into a global association delivering collective buying power, operational best practices, strategic solutions and other services to 5,000 independent opticians and optometrists and more than 120 brand partners across Europe and Latin America.

CECOP helps members most effectively manage their businesses and grow customer loyalty; it also helps partner manufacturers in the optical space reach, build brand awareness, and grow business with an active group of buyers, according to this week’s announcement.

Jennifer Baldock, executive vice president, chief administrative and development officer at Surgery Partners, said the transaction with CECOP “positions the Alliance Buying Group members and vendors for continued success while furthering Surgery Partner’s objective to solely focus on our core short-stay surgical business.”

With CECOP’s growing portfolio of independent optical and optometrist retailers, the brands and vendors that have worked with ABG can look forward to new marketing opportunities with a highly engaged audience,” she added.

CECOP is expanding globally, with operations in Spain, Portugal, Italy, England, Ireland, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and the U.S. The group attributes its success to its ability to collaborate with local partners who can “add to the value proposition of independent optometrists—particularly in these challenging conditions.”