VSP Global, a vision benefits company providing eye care to 88 million members through a network of 40,000 providers, is moving into brick-and-mortar eyewear retailing. The company plans to open three Eyeconic locations in Chicago in 2019 to serve as physical extensions of the VSP e-Commerce site. Locations and other details of the shops will be revealed in the coming months.
“In collaboration with our innovation lab, The Shop, we’ve identified a unique, uncommitted customer who seeks a differentiated eye care and eyewear-buying experience,” said Bill Vaughan, President of VSP Retail in a statement. “In partnership with a Doctor of Optometry, Eyeconic is well-positioned to meet changing customer requirements by creating a digital and physical brand environment based on personalization, choice, and well-being.”
Each Eyeconic store will be wholly owned and operated by VSP, with a sublease model for VSP network doctors. VSP chose the Chicago area after market research showed that it had high numbers of out-of-network claims at optical chains and mass retailers.
“Our goal is to create more opportunities for doctors,” said Michael Guyette, President and CEO of VSP Global in a statement. “Without a strategic retail footprint, we risk closing the door on key clients, as well as the 20% of consumers who are choosing retail and even online-based eyewear stores over private practice.”
VSP also is launching VSP Ventures, a new business unit that will facilitate practice transitions for doctors looking to retire or evolve to a different model.
“Benefits managers are demanding more substantial retail options and doctors have been asking VSP to create a doctor-centric alternative to private equity,” said Guyette. “It’s critical for VSP to ensure this evolving landscape serves both our members and VSP network doctors in mutually beneficial ways.”
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