ECPs unimpressed with Luxottica-Macy’s deal

November 20, 2015

Luxottica and Macy’s announced an agreement that will bring LensCrafters to 500 Macy’s department stores over the next three years, a move that drew an uncharacteristically apathetic response from the eyecare community.

Luxottica and Macy’s announced an agreement that will bring LensCrafters to 500 Macy’s department stores over the next three years, a move that drew an uncharacteristically apathetic response from the eyecare community.

Over the last year, other recent deals between big names in eye care-such as CVS and VSP or Essilor and Vision Source-have spurred reactions of anxiety, anger, frustration, and fear from ODs. But the members of the eyecare community who shared their reactions with Optometry Times expressed neither surprise nor concern about the Luxottica-Macy’s deal.

Related: CVS and VSP: What you need to know about the new deal

Keeping up with Warby

Maria Sampalis, OD, of Warwick, RI, told Optometry Times via ODs on Facebook that because Macy’s already hosts Sunglass Hut, she was not surprised by the new deal. In fact, Dr. Sampalis speculated that the move was in an effort to compete with Nordstrom and Warby Parker, a deal that was announced this summer. Dr. Sampalis has a sublease through Luxottica.

Related: 3 reasons why you should love Warby Parker

Susan Miyabe, OD, of LA, agrees, but thinks Warby Parker made the better choice in partnership.

“I think that Warby Parker made a better deal to associate with a brand that is known for great customer service and quality rather than just designer names,” she told Optometry Times via ODs on Facebook. “Younger people seem to be trending away from brands and are consuming goods based more on history of good performance and quality.

“I do not want to appear to be degrading Macy’s, but LensCrafters putting its stores into a department store that represents mainstream level consumer goods is bringing itself and all its brands down quite a bit,” says Dr. Miyabe. “Congratulations to the independents, LensCrafters just elevated your product a few notches by default!”

Next: Trying to revive LensCrafters?

 

Trying to revive LensCrafters?

Troy Bedinghaus, OD, of Lakewood Ranch, FL, compares this expansion of LensCrafters locations to Starbucks. While he enjoys Starbucks, he says that for a really cool, hip coffee place, it has really diluted its brand.

“When you have a Starbucks location everywhere on every corner, it seems like Starbucks is a commodity and not a special, neatly designed place to hang out,” says Dr. Bedinghaus via ODs on Facebook. “When Starbucks locations were not so great, the brand seemed very strong. I am not saying having more locations does not make more money, but in the long run when there are so many, it dilutes the originality.”

Van Rue of Single Vision Express optical lab in Seattle says the move appears to be an effort to revive LensCrafters.

“Sunglass Huts survive in Macy’s because sunglasses are an impulse purchase; ophthalmics will require a deliberate marketing campaign to get people to stop,” he says. “People are not asking Macy's clerks, ‘Why don't you have prescription eyewear?’ There is no unmet demand-Macy's will have to create a new market and shopping habits. It’s a bold and dangerous strategic move that will either lower LensCrafters' costs or leave them chained to a fading store empire.”

Next: Details of the deal

 

Details of the deal

LensCrafters will open its first Macy’s location in April 2016, with a goal of 100 locations by the end of next year. The locations of those stores have not been announced. The new agreement expands and builds on the companies’ deal that resulted in the opening of 670 Sunglass Hut locations into Macy’s stores across the country over the past six years.

Luxottica did not agree to repeated requests for an interview with a senior executive.

However, according to a Luxottica spokesperson, a LensCrafters-affiliated optometrist will staff each location. For larger markets, an optometrist will be in-store five days per week, while smaller markets will have an optometrist in-store three days per week. Patients will be able to receive a full eye examination at the Macy’s locations, and either nearby LensCrafters locations or Luxottica Retail central labs will fill prescriptions.

Related: What the Essilor-Vision Source deal means for you

According to Luxottica, the LensCrafters locations will feature a new design concept for Macy’s stores and will offer luxury eyewear brands. The company says the locations will have an in-store digital experience featuring lens simulators and virtual try-on technology.

When the companies announced the deal, Macy’s President Jeff Gennette released a statement saying the company is devoted to its customers’ health.

“We look forward to welcoming LensCrafters into Macy’s stores nationwide and to deepening our successful relationship with Luxottica,” says Gennette. “In particular, LensCrafters reinforces Macy’s commitment to the health and wellness of our customers. Eye health is critical to everyone’s personal wellbeing, and easy in-store access to LensCrafters optometrists, personalized service, and fashionable product assortment dovetail well with Macy’s strengths. As with Sunglass Hut, LensCrafters will enhance the productivity of our stores and strengthen Macy’s as a shopping destination.”

Recent news: Valeant shakes up GP lens market