13/02/2006 - 14:27

C @Ltd sees East Perth lab for optical lens production

13/02/2006 - 14:27

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Recently listed Western Australian optical marketer, C @ Limited, is to open Australia's newest optical lens laboratory as part of its production facilities in East Perth.

Recently listed Western Australian optical marketer, C @ Limited, is to open Australia's newest optical lens laboratory as part of its production facilities in East Perth.

The laboratory will be one of the most advanced of its kind in Australia - and include the latest robotic technology from Germany able to cut and shape a lens from a plastic optical blank, within 90 seconds.

C@ are pursuing a vertically integrated strategy with the laboratory linked with a client assessment and lens ordering service at retail points for its member outlets - providing turnaround for some orders of under 24-hours between the east and west coasts.

It is heady times for C@ which listed on the ASX in December last year after a successful capital raising, making it the only ASX-listed provider in the Australian optical sector.

The Company has taken on a major challenge to dominate the popular optometry chains in Australia's $1.3 billion "eye" business through its national brand marketing strategy.

It faces the task of usurping established brands OPSM, Laubman & Pank and Budget Specs stores which together command 45 per cent of the Australian optometry sector.

Its initial target is 300 C@ branded affiliate stores (or 20 per cent of the national market) within five years.

C@ chief executive Andrew Gay said that the company expects to be operational by mid-year and in full production by the end of 2006.

"Establishment of the East Perth laboratory is in line with the commitment in our prospectus to provide a genuine, national alternative to the more than 1,500 independent practitioners around Australia not linked to one of the optical chains," Mr Gay said.

"There are only a small number of lens wholesalers in Australia but within a market environment where demand is growing, our leading edge lens technology and direct link between lens manufacture and point-of-sale, provides a competitive advantage."

The company has reported that is on track to have 25 C@ branded stores in place by June.

C@ executives will next month launch their first "roadshow" to the eastern states to market the C@ concept there to hundreds of independent optical retailers.

Mr Gay said a total of more than $2 million would be invested in fitting out the laboratory, in Brown Street, East Perth.

"When in full swing, C@ will be the only optical company in Australia able to simultaneously supply state-of-the-art lenses and frames, and sunglasses and contact lenses, to outperform the current retail supply chain," he said.

The Australian optical sector is estimated to transact around four million eye examinations a year, with the C@ marketing strategy based around cutting out the middleman in the current supply chain network.

C@ is offering its affiliate stores access to more than 330 frame styles including 11 of its own brands covering premium through to trendy and budget styles.

 

 

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