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Specsavers’ evolving global ambition

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“I wouldn’t say I had global intentions when we started Specsavers in February 1984,” she says. “We opened in Holland 11 or 12 years ago and that’s when we thought we could do this outside the UK and it could grow.”

There are more than 600 Specsavers stores around the world in as far-flung places as Australia and New Zealand. Perkins says: “I think it’s a big achievement to migrate the structures and systems that we have to the other side of the world, in a completely different time zone.”

Perkins knows it’s going to be tough this year but believes Specsaver’s mantra of “value for money” will help the business through the recession: “In economic times like these, people are shopping around for everything. They’ve only got a certain amount of money in their pocket and they’re going to make sure they get the best value. We’re seeing more people in our shops but they’re spending slightly less.”

The £1.2bn-turnover company adjusted price points downwards last September as well as increasing stock holdings. Specsavers is also training more staff to keep up with the extra volume while maintaining exemplary customer service. Perkins adds: “We’re still working at it very hard, watching the costs and seeing exactly how every penny can be saved.”

She concludes: “You can only look so far ahead, as everyone is finding. Who knows what the future is going to hold?”

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