MyOptique Group has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Essilor International

Tuesday August 16th 2016


The MyOptique Group, a major European online optical retailer with annual revenues of GBP 57 million, announces today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Essilor International, the world leader in ophthalmic optics.

Subsequent to the transaction the management of MyOptique will remain in place, and will leverage Essilor International's capabilities to continue growing its leading position in Europe.  As part of Essilor, MyOptique will leverage Essilor’s global supply chain and collaborate with its other operating businesses to improve the reach and effectiveness of its business across Europe.

Kevin Cornils, CEO of MyOptique, commented:  

“This transaction represents a major milestone for the MyOptique Group. Our new ownership provides a tremendous platform from which to continue to build a very successful business on our proven multi-category, multi-brand model. My management team and I are delighted by the opportunity afforded from becoming part of the Essilor family.”

Maurice Helfgott, Chairman of MyOptique commented:

“The strong success of MyOptique in the European marketplace owes so much to its entrepreneurial founders, its smart and supportive investors and its visionary and talented management team led by Kevin Cornils. The business has achieved pan European scale, is growing fast and had a number of strategic options for its next stage. Joining Essilor, the world leader in ophthalmic optics, was by far the most compelling one.”

MyOptique is a privately held, Venture Capital backed business. Shareholders who supported the successful development of the company and will sell their shares in this transaction include Acton Capital Partners, Beringea, Cipio Partners, Index Ventures, Korys and Highland Capital Europe. 

Note to editors:  

About MyOptique

MyOptique is a major online player across all eyewear categories – prescription glasses, contact lenses and sunglasses – in Europe. It has enjoyed double-digit growth over each of the last eight years.

The Group operates six online retail brands – Glasses Direct, SunglassesShop, LensOn, Lensbest, Eyewearbrands and Netzoptiker. Together they have served three million customers and have shipped over 280 million contact lenses and 7 million glasses and sunglasses.

MyOptique’s brands share a record of driving innovation to provide the best possible customer experience. Glasses Direct (founded by Jamie Murray Wells), was the first to take prescription eyewear online, to offer customers a home trial, and to have a virtual mirror. Lensbest was the first to sell contact lenses by mail order in Germany, and to sell own brand contacts as a fully certified medical producer. LensOn was the first in the Nordics to introduce one click reordering for contact lenses.

The innovation continues – in 2015 Glasses Direct was recognised as delivering the best ecommerce experience in the Retail Week Customer Experience Awards, winning Outstanding Digital Experience for Ditto, its new cutting-edge 3D virtual try on service.  It is also a Future Fifty company – recognised by the British Government for its growth and innovation in the optical market.


For further information, please contact:

Jo Jeffery

Head of brand communications

+44 (0)7930 393363



Claranet helps MyOptique to achieve its vision for growth

MyOptique is a pan-European eyewear business that sells glasses, sunglasses and contact lenses. The company operates an online-only model, which opens up the potential for rapid growth and wider market opportunities, giving the retailer advantages over traditional high street rivals.

The company has enjoyed over 50 per cent growth over each of the last eight years and is one of the British Government’s ‘Future Fifty’ technology leaders. The Group has six online retail brands; together they have served three million customers and have shipped over 280 million contact lenses and 7 million glasses and sunglasses.


The challenge

MyOptique aims to remove the barriers for customers buying eyewear from online vendors and therefore needs to provide a seamless user experience, especially to support the company’s continued growth. This relies on a dependable and reliable infrastructure in order to accommodate the expectation’s of consumers when they are shopping online.

Howard Bryant, CTO at MyOptique, explained: “In ecommerce, site performance is everything. Customers can be skittish when buying online and easily put off by slow or unresponsive websites, so we need to do everything to prevent that from happening.”

MyOptique’s need for a robust and dependable online service became clear after it underwent an aggressive growth programme and invested in advertising spots, causing high spikes in web traffic over short periods of time. MyOptique initially responded to this by increasing the physical web-server account by 50 per cent. However, this approach was not sustainable in the longer term and the company concluded that its reliance on physical web servers would end up hampering its growth prospects.


The solution

After discovering Claranet at an Amazon Web Summit in 2015 where Claranet was giving a presentation on Amazon Web Service (AWS), MyOptique turned to Claranet to build an environment that could support the business’s future growth, and auto-scale infrastructure to reflect peaks in demand. Claranet managed the migration seamlessly while MyOptique’s previous setup continued to function.

Bryant explainsed: “When we started this process were by no means expert, we had a lot of complexity to deal with, in terms of our existing infrastructure and managing the migration to our new infrastructure. There’s no time in our business to simply turn the business off so we had to ensure the migration was seamless.

“It all started out with a visit to our office were we would actually go through what we intended to do and the design for how we do it. Then after that we had an employee from Claranet helping us every day for the next four months build this infrastructure completely within theAWS environment while our existing system continued to function in parallel.”

Claranet’s fully virtualised AWS environment supports the site in times of increased traffic and ensures smooth and consistent operations. The solution is able to increase the level of virtualised servers depending on user demand at any given period.

Bryant said: “Although we could have gone to AWS directly, we realised that we didn’t have the expertise needed to truly take advantage of the platform. On our own, there would have been a steep learning curve in undertaking this project; with Claranet, that curve has been much shallower.”


The Result

Claranet was able to get MyOptique’s virtualised servers up and running in four months from start to finish. Now, the websites remain stable no matter the level of web traffic.

 “Our marketing department is continually driving high volumes of traffic to the website, and the auto scalability provided by Claranet’s virtual servers means that our customers are no longer dropped from the site during peak times, leading to a consistently enjoyable customer journey.”

 Additionally, MyOptique has seen the largest number of concurrent users on the website at any one time, with no drop in performance to the website, despite only being live on the new infrastructure for a few months.

“The virtual servers had automatically scaled up to serve customers without us having to lift a finger. We’re able to offer our customers a best-of-breed customer experience whenever they visit our site, due to our work with Claranet. Now we can continue our growth plans and our stake in this burgeoning market. We're continuing to grow year on year, which would be difficult to maintain and manage without Claranet’s AWS expertise.”

Head of technology, Andy Dawkins commented: “Working with Claranet has been a breeze. We’ve been kept up to date with everything that is going on at every step of the way. They are great people, they are down to earth, and they explain it to you on a level you can understand."

MyOptique Group Named a Bloomberg Business Innovator 2016

Expert judges select MyOptique Group as one of the UK’s most innovative businesses

LONDON, Tuesday 26 January 2016 – Today, Bloomberg unveiled its inaugural Bloomberg Business Innovators list, naming MyOptique Group as one of the breakthrough businesses disrupting the way people live, work and think in the UK.

An expert judging panel convened by Bloomberg, comprising leaders of finance, technology, social enterprise and fast growth sectors, judged a comprehensive collection of 100 of the UK’s most disruptive companies and selected MyOptique Group for inclusion in the final list.

Kevin Cornils, CEO, MyOptique Group, commented:
“We’re extremely excited to be named as an inaugural Bloomberg Business Innovator.  Innovation has always been at the core of what we do as we strive to provide our online customers across Europe a better way to buy their eyewear. We led the market by introducing the first free home trial for glasses – now used by over half of our first-time customers. We also introduced the first 3D video virtual try-on in Europe using augmented reality to help our customers select the right pair from anywhere they like. And we have also led the market in developing several of our own eyewear brands, including our best-seller, London Retro, to provide our customers with a designer look for less than they’d pay on the high street.”

Nate Lanxon, Head of European Tech Editorial, Bloomberg said:
“The UK is a global powerhouse of innovation and growth. With such a wealth of talent and drive, we wanted to curate a network among the business leaders who epitomise the vibrancy and diversity of the UK business scene.

“We hope the Bloomberg Business Innovators reflect the companies and ideas that are changing how people live and work. Each of these businesses are, in their unique way, transforming industries, our lifestyle, our ways of thinking, the environment and the future for the better. We look forward to seeing what they will accomplish in 2016.”

Giles Andrews, Co-founder & Executive Chairman of Zopa and Bloomberg Business Innovators Judge, added:
“I think the UK is a great place for disruptive businesses. Consumer adoption of technology is high and it is a big market for most sectors. We are seeing industries flourish with technological change. It is exciting to see that there are so many great opportunities for innovative companies to grow right now.”

MyOptique Group named a Technology Fast 500 EMEA winner for second year running

MyOptique Group has been included in the prestigious Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA 2015 list, a ranking of the 500 fastest growing technology companies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

To determine the fastest growing companies, the DTTL TMT (Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications) global industry group calculated the percent revenue growth over the past four years. Making this list for the second year running is a major accomplishment for MyOptique Group. It grew 243 per cent during the period.

The continued strong growth is attributed to many factors including a strong focus on innovation coupled with an unstinting commitment to offering customers value for money. MyOptique Group’s prescription eyewear business has seen growth of over 50 per cent in the last year, led by the launch of a €2.8 million (£2m) TV campaign in the UK for its Glasses Direct website and the success of its house brand frames like London Retro which have seen a 98 per cent increase year-on-year. Earlier this year Glasses Direct also pioneered the first 3D virtual mirror, Ditto, which won Most Outstanding Digital Experience at the Retail Week Customer Experience Awards. Value remains key to the Group’s proposition and to date the businesses in the Group have saved the public over €200 million (£141m).

“Making the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA ranking shows MyOptique Group’s commitment to innovation and pushing the industry forward,” said David Cobb, Deloitte UK and partner in charge of the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA programme. “With its 243 per cent growth rate over four years, MyOptique Group has proven that its leadership has the vision and determination to grow in a highly competitive market.”

Since the submission, MyOptique Group has extended its portfolio to include the leading German eyewear business 4Care; which sells prescription glasses, contact lenses and sunglasses through its website, its wholesale operation Acumed and popular brands Lennox Eyewear and Lenscare; as well as the largest UK premium online eyewear business and premium brand Scarlett of Soho. They will ensure even greater sales growth for the coming year and join,, and in the portfolio.

About Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA

The Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA programme is the region’s most objective industry ranking to focus on the technology field, recognising technology companies that have achieved the fastest rates of revenue growth in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) during the past four years. Combining technological innovation, entrepreneurship and rapid growth, Fast 500 companies – large, small, public and private – span a variety of industry sectors, and are leaders in hardware, software, communications, media, life sciences and clean technology.

The programme is supported by the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 initiatives, which rank high growth technology companies by location or specifically defined geographic area and is run by the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) global industry group. Co-sponsors include Eight Roads, a venture and growth capital investor which backs entrepreneurs with aspiration for greatness in the IT and clean technology sectors across Europe; Silicon Valley Bank, the premier bank for technology, life science, private equity and premium wine businesses; and Taylor Wessing, a leading international law firm with a focus on the industries of tomorrow. More information on the programme and prior year winners is available on

About Deloitte

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients. Please see for a more detailed description of DTTL and its member firms.

Deloitte provides audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, tax and related services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. With a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries, Deloitte brings world class capabilities and high quality service to clients, delivering the insights they need to address their most complex business challenges. Deloitte’s more than 225,000 professionals are committed to making an impact that matters. Deloitte serves four out of five Fortune Global 500 companies, please connect with DTTL on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

MyOptique Group snaps up premium eyewear brand Scarlett of Soho

MyOptique Group has further strengthened its in-house product selection with the acquisition of Scarlett of Soho.

The deal will now see the Scarlett of Soho collection sold exclusively across the Group’s two market leading UK eyewear websites and

Scarlett of Soho takes its name from the 18th century Royal optician Edward Scarlett who popularised the use of arms on glasses and who had a store in Soho. The premium product is made from Italian aged acetate and has patented rivet hinges for durable stability. It has a vintage look and feel and current styles take their name from famous 20th century figures; including Hemingway, Churchill and Hartnell. Each pair includes an inspirational phrase embodying its namesake on the inside of an arm; for example ‘live your story’ on Hemingway.

The new brand’s collection will sit alongside MyOptique Group’s popular in-house brands London Retro, Scout, Harrington and Aspire. The Group’s in-house brands have been growing rapidly, with sales up nearly 75 per cent over the past financial year when they also grew to over a quarter of Glasses Direct sales.

Previously only available via a monthly subscription service through the Scarlett of Soho website, the collection will now be available to buy in the standard way. It will be sold two for £95 across Glasses Direct, and also as a single frame for £79 on Eyewearbrands, a saving of around 50 per cent over the previous subscription charge. It will not be available via subscription although MyOptique Group is considering testing a similar subscription offer across its websites.

Scarlett of Soho is the latest in a series of acquisitions which have propelled MyOptique Group to the leading position in the European online eyewear market, with over 3 million customers who have saved over £150m. This summer the Group announced the acquisition of the leading UK premium online eyewear business and the German business 4Care which includes the popular website in its portfolio.

MyOptique Group has been innovating to grow the online market and house brands are an important part of the mix, which also includes Glasses Direct’s free home trial whereby potential customers can try four frames at home for free and its award winning 3D virtual mirror ‘Ditto’.

MyOptique Group CEO Kevin Cornils commented: “We are delighted to have Scarlett of Soho join the MyOptique Group family. The collection was founded on a principle we share of offering top quality for amazing prices by cutting out the high street middleman. By bringing scale and making it available to try with our free home trial and our online virtual mirror, we are able to bring Scarlett of Soho and its high quality collection to a wider audience at even greater value for money.”

Scarlett of Soho co-founder YeeMun Thum added: "Having built Scarlett of Soho as a start-up from the ground up, we’re proud that Scarlett of Soho is joining the MyOptique Group family. Our goal from the beginning has always been to democratise an amazing eyewear experience for the masses, and we believe that MyOptique Group is best poised in the industry to realise this goal.”

Glasses Direct wins Most Outstanding Digital Experience Award was recognised as delivering the digital industry’s best experience last night at the prestigious Retail Week Customer Experience Awards.

The leading online glasses website won Outstanding Digital Experience for Ditto, its cutting-edge 3D virtual try on service.

The Award was judged on positive impact on customer experience, meeting business needs and delivering tangible improvements for the business. Glasses Direct beat off tough competition from short listed companies Sainburys, Thomas Cook, Schuh and to secure the Award.

Ditto enables customers to use their webcams on their computers to create a ‘virtual’ self and ‘try on’ glasses before buying. Once they have created a ‘Ditto’ then every time they view a pair of glasses on Glasses Direct they can see them on their own face and are able to turn their head from side to side to get a good look at how the glasses suit and fit them.

What makes Ditto cutting-edge is its use of 3D virtual technology with scale. It identifies over 900 unique points on a face to create the most realist try on ever seen. Most other virtual try ons are far less sophisticated and use 2D tools with no scale. It is only available in the UK from Glasses Direct.

For near sighted customers the Ditto experience is superior to trying on frames in a store. This is because you need to remove your prescription glasses to try on a frame in store that you then cannot see clearly.

Ditto is important as a market changer because the most significant barrier to buying glasses online is the ability to try on product before buying. In a Glasses Direct survey of 818 regular glasses wearers in 2015, 71 per cent who said they would not buy glasses online gave ‘I like to try on glasses’ as the reason. The significance of the barrier as a brake on online sales is demonstrated by the fact that only 2 per cent of prescription eyewear sales currently take place online, compared to 17 per cent for clothes.The effect has been dramatic. Customers who use Ditto view 78 per cent more pages and are 40 per cent more likely to buy than those who don’t.

Ditto works as a standalone but also combines with Home Trial, a service pioneered by Glasses Direct, to create a virtuous circle. Home trial enables customers to choose four frames and try them on at home for free with no obligation to buy. Half of customers who have a home trial go on to purchase and at an increased AOV of 10 per cent. It’s an especially important validation service for new customers (one third of whom use it) as they can see the physical product’s quality. Customers who use Ditto are 68 per cent more likely to select a home trial and the choices they make for home trial will be more relevant.

The judges commented that Ditto transforms an inherently difficult part of the customer journey into a driver of customer satisfaction.

Group Chief Marketing Officer Sven Ripper commented: “We are thrilled to win this award as it is recognition for our unstinting customer focus. We are not just committed to continued innovation to improve the online experience, we are committed to changing the way people buy glasses vis-a-vis the high street by providing the best value for money and customer experience possible.”