The only thing certain about the recent merger is uncertainty. There is a lot of soul-searching going on as we all absorb the news. While I don’t pretend to understand all the implications, we’d like to share a few preliminary thoughts.
It can’t be denied that Essilor’s and Luxottica’s individual strategies of consolidation and vertical integration have been successful, and their merger represents the next logical step. They are doing what every company is supposed to do: create the best outcome for their shareholders and employees, now and in the longer term. And they will support independent optometry to the extent that doing so furthers that goal.
One thing is true of nearly every consolidation: fewer suppliers leads to higher pricing. When an optical supplier can circumvent independent practices through online sales and other retail outlets, there is little incentive to offer value. Those who control the market control prices and profits.
Luxottica and Essilor (and other companies) will work diligently to increase that control -- by branding products and offices so they can control messaging and distribution. They will also work to control patients through their insurance programs. Whether that is good or bad for you depends on how you view the future of the market and your practice.
The challenge we see for Optometrists is maintaining freedom of choice. We believe choice is what drives most independent offices: the choice of patients they serve, the choice of which products are best for them, and the choice of how they run their business. It doesn’t necessarily mean staying independent – but it means that you, and not outside forces, determine your path.
We’d be less than honest if we didn’t express the hope that this causes practices to re-evaluate their options, but it would be wrong to prey on fear and uncertainty in the marketplace. GSRx can only stay true to who we are and what we do: help independent practices succeed while maintaining their independence and freedom of choice. We will continue to deliver the highest level of technology and value to you and your patients.
Dave Jochims, CEO
Keith Posin, Executive VP