Caledonian Optical, the lens manufacturing division of the Duncan & Todd Group, is poised for expansion following the completion of a £1.3m refurbishment at its laboratory in Aberdeen.
The refurbishment was possible due to support from the Business Growth Fund (BGF), an independent company backed by five of the UK’s main banking groups – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, RBS and Standard Chartered – to help growing smaller and medium-sized businesses.
Duncan & Todd Group, a large independent opticians chain, has invested in state-of-the-art optical manufacturing equipment for its laboratory, including a £500,000 in-house coating facility, making it the only Scotland-based prescription lens manufacturer to have this capability, according to the company.
In addition to producing lenses for the Duncan & Todd Optical Group, Caledonian Optical supplies other opticians and laboratories throughout the UK and Ireland.
A second machine line has also been installed, doubling production capacity in the laboratory and cutting order turnaround times.
A further £250,000 investment is planned this year in order to complete the automation of the production line.
Investing in the new equipment supports Caledonian Optical’s expansion plan, through which the company aims to double its revenues from external customers.
Managing director at Duncan & Todd Group, Frances Duncan, said: “The investment made by BGF has enabled us to buy new manufacturing equipment and refurbish our manufacturing unit in Aberdeen.
“We are now in a position where we are offering a wide range of quality lenses, first class in-house coating capabilities, and market-leading turnaround times to existing customers, as well as other third party opticians and laboratories.”
Patrick Graham, an investor at BGF and a board member of the Duncan and Todd Group, said: “This new equipment allows Caledonian Optical to significantly increase its capacity to produce a full range of products, from the latest HD digital lenses and rimless spectacles through to safety glasses for its corporate clients. The expansion into coatings means all lenses can be produced in-house.”
“Growing the business in this way was one of the factors that attracted BGF to the company in the first place and encouraged us to make our follow-on investment,” he concluded.
BGF invested £5.6m into the Duncan & Todd Group in December 2013, with part of the funding used to refurbish and expand Caledonian Optical’s manufacturing facility.
It made a £3.5m follow-on investment into the business in February 2015 to fund its acquisition of 2020 Opticians, a chain with six branches in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and to fuel further expansion.
The Duncan & Todd Group was founded in 1973 and has grown to 30 branches throughout Scotland following its takeover of 2020 Opticians and the Dunfermline-based Gunn & Galbraith in May 2014.
In addition to its High Street practices, the Group’s corporate eye care division supplies safety equipment and spectacles to more than 200 customers.