Perkins started the high street opticians’ chain with her husband in 1984. Despite the temptation to “stretch the brand”, as she puts it, Specsavers “stuck to the knitting and grew the business to what is a very good market share”.
She adds: “Every store is successful, there’s never been a store that’s closed. That’s quite an achievement.”
Successful international expansion is another aspect of the business that Perkins is proud of. “We were able to successfully migrate the structures and systems we have to literally the other side of the world – Australia and New Zealand,” she says.
Specsavers employs approximately 24,000 people across its call centres, shops, head office and manufacturing hubs. Turnover for 2008 was £1.2bn. Perkins admits while 2009 will be tough, the company is in a good position. “Specsavers represents value for money. That’s what we concentrate on: affordable eye care for everyone. In times like this, people shop around to get the best deal,” she says.
“Turnover will grow this year; we’ve never not grown. In this economic climate, we may not experience double-digit growth but we’ll have nice, healthy growth.”