My personal feelings towards the acquisition of Coastal by Essilor are positive. Coastal had outlived its current business model and needed new management. They weren’t making any money and all they were accomplishing was
messing up the eye care market, while providing an incomplete vision care service. We all have heard talk over the past year that Coastal probably would be sold. Amazon had been mentioned. Essilor buying Coastal is far better than a company such as Amazon, which has no connections to our industry and profession. I have to believe, at least for the moment, that what Essilor is saying about how they will use Coastal, will be the path they take. In their comments they talk of using their new acquisition in a positive manner.
4) Essilor is buying one of the biggest online optical platforms in order to contribute to shaping the development of the internet channel
This will be done along with our traditional customers
And for the benefit of the industry and of consumers
Essilor will leverage Coastal’s online technology to offer ECPs with e-commerce platforms.
Essilor has sales of about $7.6 Billion. I don’t believe that they will risk this. While Coastal’s sales are big they aren’t worth risking their relationship with their accounts that make up this figure. Remember that Coastal’s current model looses money.
I have spoken to upper management at Essilor and have been told of some possible changes we would see once they take over. I’m encouraged by what I heard but will wait to see what happens as we have been down a similar path before with Luxottica.
The initial response I am hearing from opticians is skepticism. And rightly so. I understand where they are coming from and believe it is partly due to not taking a broad enough view of what’s going on. There are a number of parts to this evolution. The on-line sale of prescription eyewear and contacts is not going away. Regulators are powerless when it comes to stopping it. The experience in BC showed us that. I would not like to see our regulatory bodies getting involved in ridiculously expensive law suits which could prove to be a waste of time and energy. I think that consumers and business will point the direction of the industry, and the profession will have to adapt to the desires of their clients and find safe convenient ways to deliver eye care. This includes utilizing on-line tools.
We have a commitment from Essilor that they will work with our industry and profession as we all move forward with the Internet as a tool, rather than seeing it as a terrible scourge that will wipe out our businesses. Only time will tell if this acquisition turns out to be a positive influence, but at this point, if I have to choose a company to buy Coastal it is Essilor.