Scrivens Opticians & Hearing Care chairman, Nicholas Georgevic (pictured left), is celebrating 25 years with the Birmingham-based family business.
Mr Georgevic joined as finance director in 1991, having been persuaded by his father, Sasha Georgevic, to help Scrivens prepare for the next phase of its development.
Since then, the company has grown from 44 branches, primarily located in the Midlands, to 177 High Street stores nationwide, ranging from Hartlepool in the north to Penzance in the south and from Rhyl in the west to North Walsham and Harwich in the east.
Today the company employs more than 1000 people and has just enjoyed its most successful trading year in its 78-year history.
When asked the secret of Scrivens’ success, Mr Georgevic said: “We are one big family, each of whom strives each and every day to deliver a personal and high quality service for our customers.”
He added: “I may have completed 25 years of service but that isn’t even average among my board colleagues, five of whom and I have clocked up 153 years between us.
“One of the proudest statistics at Scrivens is that we have more than 60 employees who have each achieved more than 20 years of service.”
Scrivens was founded in 1938 by Mr Georgevic’s grandfather, optician and pharmacist, Solomon Scriven. He started operating from the heart of the Midlands with a focus on customer care, and in the 1950s a hearing care service was also introduced.
It has taken Scrivens almost seven decades of campaigning, but in the last couple of years hearing is now enjoying the same NHS access on the High Street as its optical bedfellow.
“My grandfather was a visionary and he would be happy, but perhaps also slightly disappointed that it has taken so long, for hearing care to be given the same status as optical care,” said Mr Georgevic.
“There were times in my 25 years where we almost gave up on hearing due to the structural and political pressures weighing down on the sales and profits of this side of our business, but we knew that our customers wanted to have the choice of accessing NHS hearing care on their local High Street, rather than endure the hassle of hospital appointments, often impersonal service, lengthy waiting times and poor accessibility,” he explained.
Mr Georgevic revealed: “We are on course to deliver our 100,000th NHS hearing aid this year and our customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
“We are now recruiting more hearing aid dispensers and support staff as the demand for our hearing care service continues to grow.”
As for the future, Mr Georgevic is optimistic, but not complacent. “Being a retailer today is as challenging as ever, not only from existing High Street competition but also the internet,” he said, adding: “However, we believe the High Street is here to stay and will continue to thrive as customers want that all-important human interaction, especially when it comes to having their vision and hearing checked."
Mr Georgevic and his brother, fellow director, Mark Georgevic (pictured right), have six children between them, so what beckons for the next Scrivens generation?
“My hope is that Scrivens will stay a family business and that one or two from the next generation may choose to join the business at some point,” said Mr Georgevic.
He emphasised: “However, they will need to have proved themselves in business first – they will certainly not be getting an automatic pass.”