David Golden OD, co-founder, PERC
and Jessica Hall, VP Operations, PERC/IVA.

DALLAS—Essilor of America, a division of Essilor International (Reuters: ESSI.PA), which recently entered the ECP alliance sector in the U.S., is expanding its presence with the acquisition of a majority interest in Professional Eyecare Resource Co-Operative (PERC) and Infinity Vision Alliance (IVA). The deal was announced today, the financial details were undisclosed.

The move is Essilor’s second acquisition of a major independent ECP alliance in the last few months, following its purchase of Vision Source, the country’s largest alliance, which was announced in July of this year as previously reported and closed in late September.

PERC/IVA is a group purchasing organization comprised of approximately 4,000 doctors, from over 2,400 independent eyecare practices in the U.S., based on current membership of 1,700 practices in PERC and 700 practices in IVA, executives said.

Executives of Essilor and PERC/IVA told VMail that PERC/IVA will continue to operate independently, led by their current leadership team, and that its members will continue to have choice across all services and products.

“By leveraging the expertise of PERC/IVA and the resources of Essilor, we will work together to accelerate growth in the eycare industry,” said Essilor of America’s president, Eric Leonard. Leonard also told VMail, “We see ourselves as a provider of products, but also a provider of services such as marketing services, supply chain efficiencies and more. Through this acquisition, we will be helping PERC/IVA to provide better services to their members. We believe in independent choices so that ECPs can make the best decision for their patients.”

Both PERC and Vision Source, “represent two very distinct business models and points of view,” pointed out Howard Purcell, OD, senior vice president, customer development, Essilor of America, who emphasized, “We’re supporting each group’s unique value proposition. Our point of view is not to put all our ideas together and create one ubiquitous solution for everyone; our goal is to maintain those group distinctions and characters. We believe that the learnings we gain will benefit the whole populace of those we serve in the marketplace and help all independent optometry. Aggregating independent optometry is one way to ensure its growth.”

The principals of PERC/IVA and Essilor have enjoyed a successful partnership for more than 25 years, even before PERC was formed, Purcell noted.

PERC was founded in 2008 by David Golden, OD and Howard Stein, OD. The group has been building a suite of services which connect members to business tools, including a consolidated supply chain (PERC Advantage), including group-exclusive eyewear brands and distribution, management productivity and performance tools, marketing and branding services.

PERC/IVA, which has members in 48 states across the U.S., holds meetings throughout the country. While the company would not disclose the transaction details, executives said that Drs. Golden and Stein will retain a minority interest in the group following the acquisition and continue to be part of the PERC/IVA leadership team, along with Jessica Hall, VP operations, and others.

PERC also provides access to patient populations through payors for both members and non-members. This business, Verge Alliance, which is a separate business from PERC, offers a suite of products that allow local, regional, state and national networks of ECPs to connect with health plans, ACOs, medical groups, employers and others. The Verge Alliance is not part of the Essilor acquisition of PERC/IVA, executives said.

The leadership teams of PERC/IVA as well as of Vision Source will meet regularly with Essilor executives including Leonard and Purcell and will report to Daniel Liberman, Essilor of America’s senior vice president, strategic initiatives.

Liberman told VMail, “For a long time, we have heard about and identified, untapped opportunities among independents. We have a long range of strong partnerships throughout the industry, but when we looked at entities like PERC/IVA and Vision Source, we saw two organizations and leaders who were helping ECPs maximize their performance. Each had a clear viewpoint and direction that could benefit from incremental access to resources. As we’ve done with other extended partnerships, we find good management teams and support them to help them with what they’re trying to achieve. This is just one of the ways that we are looking to help the industry improve.”

Of future plans, Golden said, “We’re very interested in scaling our Advantage platform. We are interested in building online capabilities for our members for both our B2B and B2C activities.” He noted, “Essilor gives us the intellectual and technical resources to get the products and services to our own members quickly.”