NEW YORK—Pearle Vision announced it has named Kathleen Steele as senior vice president and general manager. Steele, who has spent the last 11 years with Luxottica Retail North America, will lead the optical retail brand with over 500 locations across North America. She will report to Gunjan Kumar, president of Retail Licensed Brands and Pearle Vision NA, the company said. Steele most recently served as vice president of operations for Pearle Vision since 2016. During her time with the brand, she developed a deep understanding of the doctor-focused franchising model that makes Pearle unique and has built strong relationships with franchisees, the announcement said.

Steele and her team have helped Pearle earn top honors including the #1 Eye Care Franchise on Entrepreneur magazine’s prestigious Franchise 500 list, and a Women’s Choice Award for customer satisfaction among women.
“Kathleen is a great choice to lead Pearle Vision during an important period in the brand’s history. Pearle’s reputation for delivering quality care to patients and their focus on the neighborhood doctor makes them stand out not only in the world of eyecare, but across all industries,” said Kumar. “Kathleen is a proven leader with a clear and strategic mindset—she will lead Pearle to continued success.”

Kathleen Steele.   
Before joining the Pearle Vision brand, Kathleen held several leadership positions at the company, including director of innovation and commercialization for LensCrafters and director of vision care strategy. When she takes the reigns at Pearle in June, Kathleen will replace Alex Wilkes, who will be leaving to pursue an opportunity outside the company. As VMAIL reported on Tuesday, Wilkes will be joining CooperVision as president, Americas.
Pearle Vision was founded in 1961 by Dr. Stanley Pearle, who began the concept of one-stop, total eyecare with the opening of the Pearle Vision Center in Savannah, Ga. Dr. Pearle combined complete eye exams with an extensive selection of eyewear. In 1981, Pearle Vision began offering franchise opportunities to select doctors and opticians and today there are more than 550 EyeCare Centers located throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. Pearle Vision is a division of Luxottica Retail, part of EssilorLuxottica.