Becoming a business owner

“I am a strong believer in always saying yes to a challenge”

Specsavers group director, David Proudfoot, explains how he balances three very different practices across one English city

Specsavers employees

After more than a decade with Specsavers, David Proudfoot became the owner of a third practice in Hull in April 2022.

As group director for the multiple’s Kingswood, Cottingham and Hull city centre practices, Proudfoot sees a varying demographic of patient – despite his stores being geographically close. He describes Cottingham as serving “essentially a large village,” while the Kingswood practice is located on a retail park on the outskirts of the city.

His newest practice, which has a more than 25-year history and which he is currently in the process of planning after acquisition in April, will be typical of a “classic city centre store,” he explained, adding that “maintaining the overall objective of high clinical standards and value eye care and hearing care” is the priority, whilst also ensuring that the varying needs of patients remain at the forefront of his staff members’ minds.

Learnings from previous store openings – Kingswood opened in November 2018, and Cottingham in June this year – will help with the development of his most recent venture.

Proudfoot said: “Within our three stores there are four directors, plus a knowledgeable and experienced wider team. We have taken learnings and success from our Kingswood store to recently opened Cottingham. We are similarly developing the Hull city centre store.”

After acquiring the Jameson Street practice in the city centre in April, Proudfoot plans to spend the rest of 2022 “refitting and refreshing” – something that he hopes will fall “in line with work being carried out in the broader redevelopment of Hull that is currently underway.”

A community business

Supporting the local community, Proudfoot says, is important for his business. In 2021, the Kingswood practice raised more than £3000 for the Brain Tumour Charity by putting together a team to compete in 10-mile obstacle course Tough Mudder, and the group also sponsors local junior football and tennis teams in Kingswood.

Proudfoot added: “We are looking to support more city centre and Cottingham community projects.”

Specsavers has a well-established domiciliary arm in Specsavers Home Visits. This service is a feature of the two practices that are currently open, and will be available via the city centre location too.

With great people around you, sharing a common goal, the sky is the limit


“Specsavers Home Visits offers an important community service to people who cannot come into stores,” Proudfoot said. “Thanks to training from our local Specsavers Home Visits directors, the team in our three stores are comfortable talking about the service. Supporting each other to provide the best and most appropriate care for customers is important.”

Sustainability is also something that is “hugely important” across all three practices within the business, Proudfoot said.

He said: “As part of this, we have invested in laboratory equipment that changes the way that microplastics are collected and disposed of. Plus, we are aiming to move towards a more paperless system through significant IT investment.”

Technology is important across all three stores, Proudfoot explained, helping to “support our clinical practice, which benefits patients and supports a continual focus on enhancing the customer journey.”

A journey into directorship

Unlike many practice owners, Proudfoot hadn’t had his long-term sights set on business ownership before it became a reality. In fact, his journey began less than half a decade ago, with an internal move within Specsavers and the opening of the Kingswood practice.

At that point he had already been with the multiple for 10 years, after starting with the Nottingham-based product team, with responsibilities for ophthalmic lenses across the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain, in 2008.

When the opportunity arose in 2018 to become a Specsavers director back in Hull, it was too good to be true


Proudfoot said: “It was a role I did for 10 years before opening my first store. Working for the Specsavers support team was incredible. I worked alongside amazing people and those relationships have served me well as I moved into partnership.”

He added: “When the opportunity arose in 2018 to become a Specsavers director back in Hull, it felt too good to be true.”