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Online retailer turns eyewear into fashionwear

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“It’s one thing to be able to save people a hell of a lot of money but I want to change the entire way people buy glasses,” says Murray Wells, who set up Glasses Direct in 2004 when he was still a nipper at university.

We’re interviewing Murray Wells as part of the My First Million series we’re running in association with Orange, and he’s sporting a rather garish pair of red specs.

“I have a different pair for every day of the week,” he says. “Now that glasses are so affordable [prescription glasses start at £15 on his website], people are realising that they can own four or five pairs. Glasses are becoming a fashion accessory."

Murray Wells says that “stuffy, old-school retailers” sell glasses according to their price bracket. As more people flock to the internet to buy essential items at knock-down prices, Murray Wells is rolling out new marketing techniques, selling glasses according to people’s moods and activities. "If you’ve got a hot date lined up, you can buy a pair of romantic glasses. If you’re about to clinch a multi-million pound deal, you can pick up some serious business specs," he says.

Sales at Glass Direct hit £2.4m in 2007. Murray expects turnover to top £8m this year and is setting his sights on international expansion. Pretty impressive for someone who spent £500 “knocking together a website” while studying for his degree.

"In many ways, we’re recession-proof," he says. "Glasses are a product that you need and we deliver them at better value than anyone else."

For more details about the My First Million series, sponsored by Orange, click here.

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