GREEN BAY, Wis.—With the support of a focused team, an efficient plan and an experienced investment group, Shopko Optical said this week that it has opened 80 free-standing optical centers in 180 days, and that the company plans to open an additional 35 optical centers in 2020, according to its announcement. Shopko Optical, which is backed by the investment firm Monarch Capital, has been a leading provider of eyecare services to Midwest communities for more than 40 years. The optical company was acquired out of bankruptcy court for $8.5 million in mid-May by Monarch Alternative Capital LP, a private investment firm with offices in New York and London, as VMAIL reported.

At the time of the bankruptcy court resolution, there were only six freestanding Shopko Optical locations operating. (The former Shopko discount store retailer – where most of the Shopko optical departments were located – filed for bankruptcy and liquidated earlier this year.)

“I'm incredibly proud of our team, their focus on opening our new centers and their efficiency in making it a reality, especially the commitment and tireless efforts of our store development, operations and IT teams," Shopko Optical chief executive officer Russ Steinhorst said in the announcement. "This was a very smooth transition as we were able to retain our loyal patients, optometrists and optical staff through the process."

Shopko Optical centers have opened in Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

Steinhorst cited a “trusted partnership with Monarch Alternative Capital as a crucial element of the success” of the quick turnaround on the free-standing locations. He added, "Without the guidance and support of Monarch and the Shopko Optical board, in particular Arthur Rubinfeld of Airvision and Jim Eisen, these openings would not have been a reality.”

Founded in 2002, Monarch has a long-standing history of investing in promising companies undergoing transitions and working alongside their leadership teams to build successful businesses moving forward, according to the announcement.

"When we partnered with Shopko Optical in May, we knew this endeavor was an important part of the growth strategy," Monarch principal and Shopko Optical chairman Ian Glastein said. "To see our vision play out in these 80 center openings is an incredible accomplishment for Shopko Optical."

Shopko noted that the opening of 80 optical centers in the 180-day period underscored the message that it is “committed to the communities in which it has been established for decades. It is an exciting time for Shopko Optical and for its optometrists and optical staff who continue to serve their local patients.”