A minute with...James Conway

The chief executive of The Optoplast Actman Eyewear Company talks about its upcoming 70th anniversary next month

01 Sep 2016 by Robina Moss

Do you have any special plans to celebrate the milestone? 

Yes, 70 years of Optoplast – we’re all very proud and excited to still be going strong. We’re marking the occasion with the launch of four limited-edition Walter & Herbert frames, two sun and two optical. I can’t say too much, but they will be very special. We’re also having a party with all the people who have worked with us and supported us over the years.

How has the company changed over the years?

We’ve had to modernise. Optics has moved on and we’ve had to move on with it. We’ve heavily invested in state-of-the-art machinery and recruited some very talented people along the way, but we have also been lucky enough to keep some of our staff for nearly 30 years. I’m a strong believer in innovation and from my early years in the business, I never wanted to stay safe. We have to keep developing.

How successful has the Walter & Herbert brand been?

The response has been fantastic. Our customers love the history of Walter & Herbert. Everything has come together, from the quality of the frames to the marketing and, of course, the fact that the frames are made in England.

You are launching four new ophthalmic frames in the Made in England collection in September. Which are your favourite and why?

I’d have to say both the ‘Turner’ and the ‘Franklin’ are my personal favourites. Their retro, vintage-inspired details really give them a quirky personality and that’s key to style of the brand.

How are you progressing plans to sell Walter & Herbert eyewear abroad?

We are already building a good distribution network outside of the UK, especially Asia where Walter & Herbert has proved to be very popular. Our focus for the next few years is to grow the brand steadily, both in the UK and internationally.


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