Michael Guyette (l) and Pete Bridgman.

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif.—VSP Global announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire San Antonio, Texas-based Visionworks, subject to completion of regulatory approval. With a footprint of more than 700 stores in nearly 40 states, the Visionworks acquisition will be the single largest VSP network investment in the company’s 65-year history, the company said. “This transaction is highly complementary to our business and marks a significant leap forward in continuing to fulfill our vision to provide access to affordable, high-quality eyecare and eyewear to more people,” said Michael Guyette, president and CEO of VSP Global. “With expanded nationwide access, we’ll provide our clients and members with an option for a more substantial, consistent and sustainable retail experience, further enhanced by the professional care of VSP network doctors.”

“We are aligned with VSP’s values and our shared commitment to help people see,” said Visionworks CEO, Pete Bridgman. “Grounded in our passion to deliver affordable quality eyecare in a simple way, and strengthened by our new partnership with VSP, we will focus on advancing patient care and accessibility.”

“The Visionworks acquisition, once closed, will position VSP to meet expectations of our clients and to grow membership,” said Gordon Jennings, OD, VSP Global board chair. “Together, we will be able to provide greater access for our members.”

Visionworks was most recently part of Highmark Health's diversified businesses. In August 2017, Centerbridge Partners acquired a minority equity stake in Visionworks, HVHC’s optical retail subsidiary. Highmark retained a controlling ownership interest in Visionworks, Today, in a statement provided to VMAIL, Highmark's Karen Hanlon, COO of Highmark Health, said, "In today’s fast changing health care marketplace, this is a smart, strategic decision and win-win transaction that will best serve the needs of Highmark customers and members, VSP Global and Visionworks clients, members and customers, and the communities that we each serve."

The national chain was ranked as the 6th largest retailer in the U.S., in Vision Monday's most recent Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailers Report generating $947.4 million in sales for the calendar 2018 year. It serves customers through more than 700 locations in nearly 40 states and the District of Columbia.  

According to Highmark, Inc.’s last quarterly report, Visionworks “continues to deliver on its turnaround plan under its new leadership team.” According to the announcement, “the company reported an operating loss of $21 million in 2018, an improvement of $21 million over the prior year, excluding the results of managed vision care.” Under the leadership of Bridgman, Visionworks has been building its executive management team and  examining ways to generate more efficient growth.

VSP Global was founded in 1955, Its businesses include: VSP Vision Care, the national not-for-profit vision benefits company, which provides access to eyecare for nearly 90 million members through a network of 40,000 doctors worldwide; Marchon Eyewear Inc., one of the world’s largest designers, manufacturers and distributors of high-quality eyewear and sunwear; VSP Optics, industry leaders in ophthalmic technology and lab services; Eyefinity,a leader in practice management and electronic health record software; VSP Retail, which focuses on increasing access to eyecare and eyewear through multiple channels; and VSP Ventures, which offers customized choices for doctors looking to transition their practice.

The transaction will close as soon as the necessary regulatory approvals are obtained.

VSP  announced its intent to move into the retail arena earlier this year as VMAIL reported, establishing VSP Ventures, which is offering financial alternatives and investments in the VSP space. VSP Ventures recently established a joint venture in Tennessee.  In addition, earlier this week, the company described the opening of new Eyeconic stores in Chicago.

More details are posted today at http://www.justthefactsvsp.com.