Optical Express, the eyecare company owned by Scottish entrepreneur David Moulsdale, posted a hefty increase in revenues and profits last year amid high demand for laser eye surgery.
New accounts for Lorena Investments, parent company of Optical Express, show that the group’s 120 outlets generated a combined turnover of £157.4 million during the year to January 1, up from £99.1m previously. Pre-tax profits rose to £52.1m against £20.1m in the prior year.
Director Stewart Mein said it was a “very busy” year for refractive eye surgery as lockdown restrictions limited consumers’ discretionary spending on other things such as travel and dining out. There was also an increase in demand for cataract procedures.
“Through a combination of continued investment in new, advanced technology and in our people, we have recorded significant progress during the year,” he said.
“However, we remain vigilant towards the changing patterns of consumer spending and financial pressures therein hence we will not pay a dividend as a measure of prudence. In 2022 we are experiencing the impact of escalating costs of utilities, personal and almost all supplies.”
He added that current trading should result in “another good year” for Optical Express, though it “won’t be as good” as 2021.
The company invested in additional technology across its clinics last year for the earlier detection of eye conditions and “improved insight into the health and refractive requirements of our patients”.
January 2021 also saw the acquisition of Anglia Community Eye Service, an independent provider of NHS ophthalmic care across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Mr Mein said Optical Express is looking to expand this into other areas of England.
The highest-paid director, presumably Mr Moulsdale, received total emoluments of £501,000 which was unchanged from 2020. The group employed an average of 1,140 people during the year.
Mr Mein added: “With regard to the future, we remain cautiously optimistic on current trading but remain mindful of both Covid legacy issues and the current financial pressures upon consumers. With no dividend payment we will continue to invest in the business and most importantly our best asset – our people.”