Bringing the Optical World Together
Siraj Bolar, CEO of FourPlus Media and Editor-in Chief of VisionPlus speaks on his vision for the global optical industry revival, and how VisionPlus EXPO can play a critical role in it
I have been a part of the optical industry for a long time now. I see it as my good fortune as it has given me not just professional identity and work satisfaction, but has also given me quite a few good friends right from independent store owners in smaller towns, to the heads of global corporations internationally. Most people in the optical industry are highly approachable and amicable, I have experienced. Perhaps it is their shared value and commitment to excellence in eye care, that makes them so relatable.
Over the years, using my magazine as a medium, I have tried to bridge the gap between eyewear companies and opticians, both globally and locally. VisionPlus EXPO 2021 Dubai, is an extension of this ongoing mission.
Every country or region seems to have its unique strengths — French Fashion, Italian Designs, German Precision, Japanese Technology, Asian Manufacturing and so on. While I completely understand the need for differentiation and specialisation, a part of me believes that we’d be far stronger if we shared our knowledge and expertise globally. The need for eyewear and eyecare is still highly unmet.
By helping each other grow, we’ll be able to create a better future, not just for ourselves, but also for the end consumers.
I hope to play a part in creating a platform, that brings the optical world together as one — not just as companies, but as people. Hope to see you at VisionPlus EXPO 2021, Dubai.
“The idea is to make Dubai a global procurement hub for the eyewear industry”
The ambitious first edition of VisionPlus EXPO is scheduled for 26-27-28 October in Dubai. Here is a conversation with Jasbir Bolar and Zahra Amir to know more
The VisionPlus EXPO 2021 has been drawing a positive response from the global eyewear community. It has been touted as the NEXT destination for international Eyewear Shows.
Jasbir Bolar, Marketing Director of FourPlus Media and Zahra Amir, Show Director of VisionPlus EXPO spoke to us at length about their plans for the exhibition. Here are the excerpts:
VisionPlus (VP): What's the difference between VisionPlus EXPO and the others?
Jasbir Bolar (JB): Traditionally, exhibitions are created for local markets, attracting participation from local exhibitors and buyers. And while some may grow and get a broader buyer base, the exhibitors are still primarily from the local brands. VisionPlus EXPO however is a true international platform right from the start.
We’re targeting participation from the international markets primarily, bringing brands from the regions of Europe to America, Japan to China and India, along with local companies of course. Even in terms of visitor participation, we’re targeting a very broad market of over 50+ countries.
The idea is to make Dubai a genuine procurement hub for eyewear industry, which also includes designer eyewear brands as well as private label manufacturers from across the globe.
VP: Can Dubai be an international hub for eyewear like Italy and France?
JB: Definitely. The glamour and glitz of Dubai is unparalleled. Nearly 90 percent of the population comprises of expats, and Dubai remains the key shopping destination for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region. Tourists from Europe too have been known to prefer buying fashion eyewear from Dubai than from their home countries.
Even though Dubai may not have many domestic fashion brands, I don’t think any brand today can truly claim to be global, if it doesn’t have its presence established in Dubai.
Zahra Amir (ZA): The GCC market for optical products itself is over USD 1.4 billion. It’s a key market for global eyewear brands, and has already established itself as a hub for eyewear procurement. And this has been true for many years now. With the VisionPlus EXPO we would only be providing better opportunities to the existing buyers and giving them more variety to choose from.
VP: Your VP Awards have had quite a participation in the past years. Do you expect this to grow further with VisionPlus EXPO?
JB: The VP Awards has been a much anticipated event since its first Middle East edition in 2014. By bringing more brands to participate in the exhibition, we’re expecting a spike in the participation in the Awards too. This would allow participating brands to get more visibility prior to the exhibition, and I’m sure it will add great value to the exhibitors.
VP: Any other features planned at the exhibition?
ZA: Yes. We intend to have training sessions and conferences organised for visitors with VP Academy. This would give visiting opticians a deeper understanding of selling techniques and inventory management. It would also give them an opportunity to upgrade their technical knowledge.
JB: We also have a two-month long Global Eyewear Shopping Festival planned in Dubai, following the VisionPlus EXPO, to boost local eyewear retail. But it’s still at a planning stage, so I can’t divulge much yet.
VP: Your website mentions something about an OEM Pavilion. What is this?
JB: This is a special demarcated area planned for Private Label Manufacturers and Raw Material suppliers from Asian countries as well as other regions. Participating at the VisionPlus EXPO in Dubai, gives these companies a clear positioning as companies that are serious about meeting international standards in manufacturing.
It also indicates their commitment to meeting service standards to match the global customers expectations. I believe this will be another key draw for buyers, since it’s not easy to identify these factors otherwise.
VP: You claim to be getting visitors from 50 countries? How will you manage to do that? Is it realistic?
JB: As you already know, VisionPlus magazine itself enjoys readership in over 20 countries. We know from experience that opticians from these countries are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves. Also, they have a great thirst for information regarding market trends and upcoming technologies in eyewear.
Local exhibitions cannot offer these, at the same level that VisionPlus EXPO could, and travelling to Europe or even China is not always feasible with language and culture being key barriers.
Dubai gives a genuine east-meets-west advantage to the exhibitors as well as the buyers. We have planned an eight-month-long digital media campaign targeting opticians from 50 countries. Realistically speaking, I wouldn’t be surprised if we exceeded that number.
ZA: The exhibition is timed to coincide with the EXPO Dubai 2020, and we’re expecting that the world would be flocking to Dubai. There are a multitude of events planned by the UAE government around the EXPO 2020. This will be a huge factor for us.
I’m sure opticians would consider having an extended business and pleasure trip in Dubai.
The initial responses too have been encouraging. We have opticians from as far as Maldives, Morocco and India pre-registering already, and we’ve barely begun our campaigns.
VP: That’s great to hear Zahra. We wish you all the best. And hope the exhibitors and buyers take full advantage of VisionPlus EXPO 2021.