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Murray Wells challenges incumbent hearing-aid retailers

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Murray Wells launched HearingDirect.com last week, aimed at the eight million Britons with mild to moderate hearing loss who could benefit from a pre-programmed digital hearing aid.

“The Holy Grail for an entrepreneur is finding an industry which looks as if it has been gathering cobwebs for a while,” he says. “And this sector is ripe for a shake up. The average spend on a new hearing-aid device is £1k-3k. But they cost just £100-150 to make. The margins are extortionate. It’s a complete scam.”

Murray Wells says he’s been sniffing around for a new business opportunity since “the moment I launched Glasses Direct”.

“I had to gauge the right time to start a new venture,” he adds. “Glasses Direct is now a big brand. I’m still the executive chairman – but it’s secure enough for me to turn my hand to something new.”

The 26-year-old entrepreneur, who is a member of George Osborne’s New Enterprise Council, has teamed up with Stuart Canterbury and Gary Hill, both formerly of hearing aid manufacturing firm GN ReSound, and audiologist Joan McKechnie.

Murray Wells says HearingDirect.com will give the public quick and easy online hearing checks. The actual devices cost between £99 and £249 – and profit margins are still about 50 per cent. All products have a 30-day money-back guarantee

When we ask Murray Wells where the hearing devices are manufactured, he refuses to reveal his suppliers. “In the early days of setting up Glasses Direct, my main supplier mysteriously dropped me. They suddenly said they couldn’t do business with me – I reckon they had pressure put on them by a high-street chain. It took me a week to find a new supplier and re-do the website. I’m scared of that happening again.”

Murray Wells expects to hit the £1m-turnover mark in year one.

Related articles:Growing Business Awards 2009Jamie Murray Wells: youngest ever to receive Queen’s Award

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