Championing independent practices
Marketing manager at Atlantic Optical, Mike Meehan, talks to OT about launching eyewear that offers personality and a story
Can you tell me three interesting facts about the company?
- We took our Big & Tall Eyewear model search public last year, launching our Find the Face campaign. We had nominations from all over the country, including from opticians
- Our Joan Collins collection is not just a famous name. Joan is close friends with our directors and she wears the frames herself
- We were the first company in the UK industry to introduce a 24 month ‘no quibble’ warranty to the patient.
What makes your eyewear unique?
We have a very extensive design process for all of our collections. We look at fashion and trend forecasting, but we also look at the influences all around us. One of the men’s frames that we will be releasing soon was inspired by a 1930s photograph in an episode of the BBC’s Who do you think you are? We always take our time during the sampling process and nothing hits the shelf unless we think it’s right. We check the colour, fit and make sure it’s wearable. Any collection can go through three or four rounds of sampling before the final design is signed off.
What is the latest collection that you have released and why does it stand out from the crowd?
In January, we introduced Woodys Barcelona to the UK. Opticians and their customers have responded incredibly well. The collection uses bold colours and patterns and also offers commercial presentations of wooden detailing. The imagery of the collection is so unique and larger than life.
We love the photography from Woodys Barcelona’s Heroes collection – every superhero featured in the photos is actually a member of the Woodys Barcelona team or their family. Super Gramps (pictured above) is the grandfather of Josep Dosta, the founder of Woodys Barcelona.
How are your customers responding to the company’s latest styles?
We launch new styles all of the time and we speak to opticians regularly for their feedback. Big & Tall Eyewear is a niche product and many opticians have found their extended fit patients haven’t been properly catered to in the past, so it’s very new to them.
What are the company’s main ambitions for the next 12 months?
Atlantic Optical is growing both internally and externally and we want to take the next year to strengthen our current offerings as well develop new brands that resonate with patients for both style and fit.
What external factors is the company taking into account when planning for the future, and why?
The optical industry as a whole is becoming increasingly competitive. There is so much more choice and more niche, bold design. Opticians are also much more discerning and look for collections they feel are interesting to their customers. This is why we are introducing collections such as Woodys Barcelona and Betsey Johnson, as they have so much personality and a great story.
As a supplier, we recognise that we have to work for an optician’s business. Our company motto is ‘In partnership with you.’ As a family business, we champion independent practices. Making sure we support those independent practices is an important part of our identity as a company. We certainly don’t dictate that customers buy minimum quantities or that they take all of our collections, it’s just not how we work.
Are there any new products in development that customers should be aware of?
Our next collection launch will be Betsey Johnson Eyewear. Betsey Johnson is an American designer of clothing, shoes and accessories, who has been a huge part of the fashion world since the swinging ‘60s. The eyewear is so vibrant and fun, we know the UK will love it.
What do you predict eyewear trends will be in 2019?
I think 2019 will be a year of extremes in eyewear, from the micro sizes we have seen celebrities such as Kylie Jenner wearing, through to oversized frames that have been popular in the last few years. We also see a trend for asymmetry in the wider fashion world, which is reflected in many of the new Betsey Johnson designs. I think it’s something we will see a lot of in the upcoming seasons.