Market Talk-Getting Back to Business

Getting Back to Business...

The business of all kinds being all-time bad is a worrying factor and optical industry not excluded. Standing together and cooperating with each other has become an important need of the hour like never before

Finding new avenues to attract customers to stores is the first need because only if the sales at the consumer level increases retailers will create demand at manufacturers, brand owners and wholesalers level. Therefore initiatives taken by many a supply chain to please retailers like discounts on price more time for payment etc. is just a part of the help and not just enough.

How retailers will get their customers back and sell them products and services is what matters most. Permit me to tell you that VisionPlus is working on providing some sort of services to optician community to promote themselves digitally and get more customer visits to their stores. You will hear more about this in the coming days.

In the meantime, I put this situation as a topic for discussion among a few well-known individuals in the industry for their reaction. What follows is the gist of their views expressed. You can see the full articles in our digital version

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Akash Goyle - Country Head and Managing Director, Luxottica India

Faced with low demand, rising costs, supply chain disruptions, labour issues, etc. it is easy to predict doom.

But we must not forget that the fundamentals of the Optical industry remain strong and if we all maintain a positive, evolutionary and consumer-centric attitude – the proverbial 'light at the end of the tunnel' can be seen much sooner than most predictions.

The long-term impact of the Covid-19 crisis will be largely driven by the fundamental shifts in consumer behaviour and one of the key areas is the sharp increase in the importance of “health, wellbeing & hygiene” in the minds of the Consumer.

Businesses will have to adapt their protocols to address these concerns at all touchpoints with consumers.

Another area that will see a strong impact and accelerated change is the blurring between the digital and physical worlds. As more and more consumers are experimenting and becoming comfortable with the use of digital shopping tools and augmented reality, their expectations from their long-trusted opticians will also rise.

Post-Pandemic, as Consumers start venturing out to Physical stores seeking an immersive shopping experience, they will also start expecting these digital tools to enhance their in-store experience and make their shopping more engaging. I

As for Make in India prospects, India has the knowledge, capability, skilled manpower, and the consuming power to be a manufacturing hub and in terms of pure input costs, supported by a large market within India, we will certainly be competitive if not better than other foreign sources. But historically our progress has been impeded by the difficult policy environment governing setting-up and running of manufacturing operations.

Over the past few years and months, however, many steps have been taken in the right direction especially concerning direct and indirect taxation and simplification of manufacturing businesses governing rules.

In terms of the optical industry; I believe that with the right push from brand owners, retailers, and consumers, we can shift a substantial part of the volume business to India.


Bhavin Kothari - CEO, Iris Brands

From a VisionCare industry perspective, there are some clear issues we need to build consensus and evolve on.

The prime objectives going forward for the next 12-18 months should be:
1. Importance of Profitability and Cash flows
2. Create a lobby to present views to relevant authorities 3. Think supply chains, rather than individual business

Higher ‘margins’ are great but of little use if they are not translated into ‘profits’.

It’s time that every part of the chain stops being in a grip of ‘fear’ about losing business and start thinking of making ‘money’. For the next 18 months, profits and positive cash flows must become the sole objective, rather than sales growth. ‘Value’ must take precedence over ‘Volume’. Businesses must align themselves to this objective at the earliest.

We are one industry and one family. A lobby and think tank of industry thinkers, representing majority of the industry verticals must be encouraged to present views to government leaders and policy makers so our thoughts, ideas and issues are highlighted to them and appropriate actions can be taken on them. Discussing grievances/issues in a social media group chat does encourage much needed debate and viewpoints, but does not lead to a clear objective based decision.

An empowered, democratic body to guide, share and educate across industry spectrum is critical. In order to create a strong and viable manufacturing option, it is not enough to have just a frame or lens factory. We must think in terms of having the bulk of the supply chain available to local factories to take advantage of.

If a factory has to import over 20% of its raw material, there is no way any manufacturer can be competitive. Therefore, it is necessary that ancillary industries be a part of any manufacturing thought process.


Anup R. Kumar - Optometrist & owner, R Kumar Optician

Life is always about ups and downs and 2020 has started with more downs than ups. COVID19 pandemic has brought business to its knees globally and now is in the hands of those who run it to rise and stand on their feet. It’s more at a crucial turning point. It depends wholly on how one handles it. History will judge us how imaginatively and wisely we run our business and what we make of it. Success, failure or in between.

A strict financial discipline and prudence is what can turn around the businesses during this testing times. The rise in the numbers of pandemic effect is alarming. It needs serious consideration of preventive measures and checks at all levels.

On the concept of Make in India I am of the opinion that if not the consumer segments, at the industry level it has always been against China and Chinese Products. The problem was at the government level which was not too supportive for it.

Now that the media has aroused sort of anti-China sentiment even the public is joining in under the COVID19 banner. What the future holds in this regard depends on how the bureaucracy and the trade extends its support for making us ‘Atmanirbhar’. This is not just for optical but every industry.


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