March 6 2015 Latest news:
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
A director at Norfolk and North Suffolk’s largest independent opticians believes the opening of a new store and a rebranding of the business will drive further growth for the firm.
Despite the tough financial climate of the last few years, Cecil Amey has continued to invest in its seven practices and last week opened a larger store in Watton. The move along the High Street trebles the business premises and Emma Amey – who has owned the family-run firm with her husband Robert since January 2013 – has more expansion and improvement in her sights.
Mrs Amey said: “Since we’ve taken over there have been massive changes for the whole company. We’re rebranding, have installed the first executive management committee, and tried to move things on.
“We’re trying to modernise the element that was in the dark ages. For a long time family members were doing work at home, ad-hoc, but now things are much more professional. There are elements we needed to modernise – without jarring against our traditional ethos and philosophies.”
She added: “We were very busy in Watton, which is expanding at a rate as a town. We’re the only opticians in the town and we felt we could succeed in a bigger store. Our appointment book and order books suggested that we could and now we just want to keep getting better at what we are doing.”
Mr Amey’s grandfather Cecil opened the first store in Norwich in 1924. Since then a number of family members have taken control of the firm, namely Robert’s father Roger and uncle Stuart, and helped it flourish.
A clear vision of growth has seen other Cecil Amey stores open up in Dereham, Wymondham, Attleborough, Harleston and Halesworth. The original Watton store was founded in 1973.
The company, which has a turnover of about £3.3m employs 55 staff and provides a full range of optical products, eye tests, glasses, contact lenses, and has plans to introduce its own ‘Eyeware’ and specialist sportswear ranges.
But Mrs Amey said the business will also retain a “family feel”.
She said: “We are a husband and wife team and two of our three children work here regularly. Hopefully they are the future of our business. The staff have that family feel because some have worked here for 10 to 15 years. What we were doing was working but there’s always room for improvement.
“We’ve continued to invest in staff training because it’s critical to everything we do. We want to get away from the belief that we’re too elite, or just excellent in regards to eye-health issues. We want to add other strings to our bow. Many independent opticians are disappearing, but we’re expanding and investing in our local high streets, which is something we are extremely proud of.”
The couple are assisted in the running of the business by Andrew Payne (director), Andy Lowen (associate director) and Yolinda Woods (business sytems manager).
With a reputation as one of the toughest people in business, many stores would shudder at the thought of getting the Mary Portas treatment.