Welcome!

Search Authors: Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez, Lori MacVittie, Liz McMillan, Shelly Palmer

News Feed Item

Visiondirect.co.uk - pioneer of online contact lens sales sees continued growth after 15 years

An overview of the monopoly breaker's foundation, development and continuing success

LONDON, Jan. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Contact lenses were extortionately expensive and unattainable in the UK unless purchased through opticians. Consumers needed and wanted to have cheaper and alternative sources for their replacement lenses. The monopoly of British opticians came to a grinding halt in 1998. An independent operator suddenly emerged and single-handedly managed to impact the UK market.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140117/MN48405)

Steffan Rygaard's pioneering company – Vision Direct – exposed the conspiracy of high-street retailers who guarded a monopoly on the price of contact lenses to further their profit margins.

Despite being a half-Dane, half-Briton raised in Zambia, Steffan Rygaard was an ordinary 26-year-old who finished his studies at Exeter University and had worked a few years as a broker in London's Square Mile. Having noticed his colleagues complaining about their jobs he decided to leave the security of his city job for a more uncertain future as an entrepreneur. He didn't realise that he was embarking on a journey that would shake the British optical industry.

Having considered the options at hand, Steffan Rygaard decided that starting a contact lens mail order company was the way forward. He was inspired by the idea of running his own business, helping people, working with databases, and being able to work from home. VisionDirect was born in a single room just big enough for a desk, a bed, a printer and a few boxes of lenses. No fancy offices, no big investors, no fuss or glory – just a single entrepreneur working hard to deliver contacts at lower prices. The market for lenses had already been transformed in countries like Australia, the United States, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark – so why not the UK as well?

Having taken every precaution possible to ensure that customer health was safeguarded, VisionDirect issued a press release announcing their presence and stating that highly priced contact lenses were now a thing of the past. Unfortunately, the British opticians' lobby group, the G.O.C, was of a different opinion. The idea that a small Battersea-based company that sold contact lenses at outlet prices could revolutionise the market seemed highly unlikely. Even though customers had to present a current prescription of their contact lenses, as well as the packaging of the lenses they were using, and had to have been wearing lenses for more than six months when ordering to get delivery, this was still not enough for the G.O.C.  Within ten months, Vision Direct was forced to shut down operations after a lengthy court ruling. The decision was made to simply continue the business from a place where the G.O.C did not have any jurisdiction.

One of Steffan's prospective customers was a journalist called Oliver James, who wrote the following as part of a column entitled 'One in the eye for competition' in the Independent in May 1998.

"... I was told of a company called Vision Direct from whom I could buy the lenses by post at half the price, a proof that the privatised companies were making a disgraceful mark-up. Until last week I have been an enthusiastic user of this wonderful service. But then, last Thursday, came the news that Vision Direct has been successfully prosecuted by the General Optical Council (GOC).

I called Vision Direct and, to my surprise, the phone was picked up by the company's founder and chairman, Stephan Rygaard. He was audibly depressed and had spent the day receiving hundreds of letters, faxes, phone calls and e-mails expressing fury. Rygaard had lost the case because the GOC, the opticians' trade body, had managed to pull the wool over a short-sighted magistrate's eyes, convincing him that the act of selling a contact lens has to be clinically supervised. On the technicality that because Vision Direct leave it to the honesty of their public to declare whether they have had a test in the past year, the company was held to be failing to act responsibly. What gives the lie to this argument is the simple fact that in Denmark, Germany and several other nations, direct mail lenses have been acceptable for some time."

The logical step for Steffan was to move his business to a place where the GOC had no jurisdiction. The Netherlands emerged as the best logistical candidate. By taking advantage of European legislation and the continued deregulation over the past decade in optics within two months of being forced out of operations, the company arose from the ashes with a new warehouse and a new phone number. Fortunately for the general public, there were now even more organizations that picked up on the idea of selling contact lenses via mail order. Hence all the GOC had really managed to do was to spite its own members by ramping up publicity for irreversible change.

15 years later, VisionDirect is still in business and still shipping from Amsterdam. The company maintains its mission to give their customers the best bargains it can. Today VisionDirect.co.uk is the largest online retailer for replacement contact lenses, proof that persistence does pay dividends.

By keeping overhead costs minimal, VisionDirect has been able to offer prices up to 80% lower than on the high street, so it is little surprise that the company is still flourishing. Additionally, a fully qualified in-house Contact Lens Optician and a UK-qualified registered Optometrist ensure that customers are in highly capable hands. At the end of 2013 the company had a consolidated turnover of €20million, was represented in most European countries, with over 40 employees and a database of plus 500,000 wearers. Again, testament that VisionDirect.co.uk was worth the effort and that our customer base is loyal to our beliefs.

Follow Visiondirect on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and our blog.

Written by Jens Håkanson on behalf of Steffan Rygaard

Media Contact:  Jens Hakanson, Visiondirect.co.uk, 084-474-5454, [email protected]

News distributed by PR Newswire iReach: https://ireach.prnewswire.com

SOURCE Visiondirect.co.uk

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that AgilePoint, the leading provider of Microsoft-centric Business Process Management software, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 2nd International @ThingsExpo which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. AgilePoint is the leading provider of Microsoft-based Business Process Management (BPM) software products, has 1,300+ on-premise and cloud deployments in 25+ countries and provides the same advanced BPM feature set as J2EE vendors like IBM and Appian for the Microsoft .NET native environment. AgilePoint customer...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., will show what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He will discuss opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and tec...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Utimaco will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Utimaco is a leading manufacturer of hardware based security solutions that provide the root of trust to keep cryptographic keys safe, secure critical digital infrastructures and protect high value data assets. Only Utimaco delivers a general-purpose hardware security module (HSM) as a customizable platform to easily integrate into existing software solutions, embed business logic and build s...
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, will describe an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people’s real needs and desires.
Samsung VP Jacopo Lenzi, who headed the company's recent SmartThings acquisition under the auspices of Samsung's Open Innovaction Center (OIC), answered a few questions we had about the deal. This interview was in conjunction with our interview with SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson. IoT Journal: SmartThings was developed in an open, standards-agnostic platform, and will now be part of Samsung's Open Innovation Center. Can you elaborate on your commitment to keep the platform open? Jacopo Lenzi: Samsung recognizes that true, accelerated innovation cannot be driven from one source, but requires a...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, will discuss how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money! Speaker Bio: Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, has spent 16 years as a marketing, product management, and busin...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TeleStax, the main sponsor of Mobicents, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TeleStax provides Open Source Communications software and services that facilitate the shift from legacy SS7 based IN networks to IP based LTE and IMS networks hosted on private (on-premise), hybrid or public clouds. TeleStax products include Restcomm, JSLEE, SMSC Gateway, USSD Gateway, SS7 Resource Adaptors, SIP Servlets, Rich Multimedia Services, Presence Services/RCS, Diame...
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, will address the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. How important are public, private, and hybrid cloud to the enterprise? How does one define Big Data? And how is the IoT tying all this together?
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
The only place to be June 9-11 is Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo 2015 East at the Javits Center in New York City. Join us there as delegates from all over the world come to listen to and engage with speakers & sponsors from the leading Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data companies. Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo are the leading events covering the booming market of Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data for the enterprise. Speakers from all over the world will be hand-picked for their ability to explore the economic strategies that utility/cloud computing provides. Whether public, private, or in a hybrid form, clo...
SYS-CON Events announces a new pavilion on the Cloud Expo floor where WebRTC converges with the Internet of Things. Pavilion will showcase WebRTC and the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices--computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors – connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridsto...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP’s Printing and Personal Systems Group, will discuss how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, senso...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics...
Internet of @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley announced on Thursday its first 12 all-star speakers and sessions for its upcoming event, which will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. @ThingsExpo, the first and largest IoT event in the world, debuted at the Javits Center in New York City in June 10-12, 2014 with over 6,000 delegates attending the conference. Among the first 12 announced world class speakers, IBM will present two highly popular IoT sessions, which will take place November 4-6, 2014 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif...
From a software development perspective IoT is about programming "things," about connecting them with each other or integrating them with existing applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Yakov Fain, co-founder of Farata Systems and SuranceBay, will show you how small IoT-enabled devices from multiple manufacturers can be integrated into the workflow of an enterprise application. This is a practical demo of building a framework and components in HTML/Java/Mobile technologies to serve as a platform that can integrate new devices as they become available on the market.
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An...
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace.