FFL Partners Is Exploring Options for Sale of EyeCare Partners

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NEW YORK—FFL Partners, the private equity firm which has been building a significant presence in the U.S. market via St. Louis, Mo.-based EyeCare Partners, LLC, now operating practices in a dozen states in the U.S. through ophthalmology and optometry points of service, is exploring the sale of the group, financial sources have reported. VMAIL has learned that FFL Partners is in the midst of its process and that a deal could be finalized by the end of this year. FFL originally created EyeCare Partners in 2015, when the firm invested in St. Louis-based Clarkson Eyecare

EyeCare Partners has continued to make acquisitions in both the ophthalmology and optometric sectors this year. Among these, last month the group purchased Nationwide Vision, as VMAIL reported, the leading the leading Arizona-based full service vision care provider. The transaction marked the entry of EyeCare Partners into Arizona and added locations in the Florida market as well. Nationwide, headquartered in Chandler, Ariz., operates 80 optometry offices in Arizona and nine in central Florida.

Also in September, the group completed the acquisition of Associated Retinal Consultants, PC (ARC), based in Royal Oak, Mich., a premier ophthalmology provider and one of the largest retina subspecialty practices in the U.S., as VMAIL reported. In March, EyeCare Partners entered Michigan with the acquisition of Bennett Optometry, a two-location practice in Ann Arbor, Mich.

With the latest acquisitions, EyeCare Partners' total points of service exceed 450 offices in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana and Michigan.

An additional part of FFL's portfolio of investments in the optical space is Eyemart Express, the Texas-based retailer. Recently Eyemart Express reported its plans to continue its own expansion this year, as VMAIL reported. Eyemart Express operates 206 stores in 38 states. It already has opened 15 of the planned 25 new locations for 2019.

FFL confirmed to VMAIL that Eyemart Express is not a part of the current sales process.