INVESTING IN FASHION DESIGNER BRANDS PAYS OFF

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With its appealing modest price point, Kenmark’s Vera Wang collection is McBride-Blackburn Opticians’ most popular designer brand (Style No. V243 shown here).

An optical shop owner details his methods for increasing his profitability by selling branded eyewear.

James Edward Blackburn, III, LDO, NCLC, owner of McBride-Blackburn Opticians, Lynchburg, VA, is a licensed optician, a contact lens-certified optician, and a 25-year-plus veteran of the optical profession. His strategies for selling fashion designer eyewear brands have increased his business and they may help improve your bottom line too.

STOCK ’EM
Since 2004, Blackburn has in-creased his board space for fashion designer frames from 35% to 65% and expects to add space again in the near future. “Fashion designer eyewear is seen as a fashion access-ory and many of our customers have multiple styles in a variety of colors to complement their wardrobe.”

FAVORED BRANDS
Blackburn’s top four designer eyewear brands are Vera Wang (Kenmark Group), Dolce & Gabbana (Luxottica Group), BCBGMAXAZRIA (ClearVision Optical Co.), and Candie’s® Eye-wear (Viva International Group). “In addition to their recognizable names, these brands offer higher quality finishes, more detailing treatments, and a larger array of colors.

Designer eyewear, like ClearVision’s BCBGMAXAZRIA, is seen as a fashion accessory (Artemis shown here).

They just ‘feel’ better too.”

The Vera Wang collection is Blackburn’s most popular because “… her designs have all the flair a majority of my female customers are looking for, yet they have an appealing modest price point. Because this line is more affordable for almost everyone, we sell a good deal of it.”

PRICING
Blackburn takes a somewhat loose approach to pricing. “Our strategies are not exact formulas. The prices developed to establish our profit margins are created with more of an interpretive method. We don’t employ a rigid formula but look at the frame’s styling and features as well as its feel and the appeal we think it will have to our patients.

“This usually places a frame’s markup in the 2.5x to 3x markup range, but there are times when this will go higher or lower based on these factors. We are always able to generate better margins with fashion designer eyewear than with non-branded eyewear.”

ADDED PROFIT
Let’s assume that an office’s fashion designer eyewear frames are capturing a 30% additional gross profit margin over the non-branded frames. The tables shown at left indicate the kind of incremental profit that an office would realize by selling fashion designer eyewear. Note that they make some assumptions that are strictly for illustrative purposes and are not a reflection of any optical office’s sales record or pricing.

As you can see, the profit differential is dramatic, especially over a one-year period. An additional $48,000 per year is a powerful incentive for any optical office (the net profit difference between the retail sales of branded and non-branded products).

While the initial investment in fashion designer branded eyewear is more, the additional profits realized are clearly worth the investment.

Jackie O’Keefe is a licensed optician, and a writer, lecturer, course preparer, and consultant in the Virginia Beach, VA area.

WHERE TO FIND IT
ClearVision Optical Co.
800-645-3733 • cvoptical.com

Kenmark Group
800-627-2898 • kenmarkoptical.com

Luxottica Group
800-422-2020 • luxottica.com

Viva International Group
800-345-VIVA • vivagroup.com



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