Independent practice saved

Former locum optometrist buys and expands West Lothian business

Eli Todd
An independent practice in West Lothian, Scotland, has been saved for the local community by its former locum optometrist and has already provided a jobs boost.

The future of Wallace Opticians in Whitburn was uncertain after its previous owner, whose family had been trading on the site for over 40 years, decided to retire.

Eli Todd (pictured), who was previously employed at the practice as a locum optician, bought the business in July after securing funding from the bank.

Ms Todd, 55, a mother-of-two from Glasgow, said: “I am no spring chicken but I relished the challenge of doing something different in my later years. I’m competitive so I’m determined to make Wallace Opticians better and more profitable.”

Since taking over, the optometrist has revamped the practice’s spectacles stock and experimented with bold window displays.

The changes have helped attract 50 new patients, with a quarter of all those treated last month new to Wallace Opticians.

The practice is now so busy that a new job has already been created, with a local teenager recruited to work as a store assistant.

Ms Todd also plans to implement a reading clinic for children with learning difficulties such as dyslexia, which would be the first of its kind in West Lothian. Currently such clinics are only available in Glasgow or Edinburgh.

Despite being an experienced practitioner, Ms Todd feared that her age and lack of experience in running a business would make it difficult to find a funding partner. However, to her surprise, she found herself in the position where banks were competing for her business.

Ms Todd explained: “I was offered several funding packages but Clydesdale Bank came up with the goods. The service has been fabulous. My relationship manager has been fantastic and Clydesdale Bank also reacted speedily when time was of the essence.”

Deyrick Smith, regional head of commercial and small business at Clydesdale Bank, said: “Wallace Opticians provides an important service to the local community. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that our support has helped the practice, not only to survive but also to thrive and grow.”