Belgian LensGroup, which dominates Belgian online contact lens sales alongside LensOnline, is slowly conquering the European market. Following the Netherlands, Italy and Spain, it is now targeting the German market.
Collaboration with opticians
LensOnline, founded in 2004 by Bert Boon and Luc Cuperus, increased its Belgian market share from 10 to 15 % in two years’ time. Looking at online lens sales, the company is the undisputed market leader. Acquisitions are half of LensOnline’s recipe for its strong online growth: thanks to LensWorld’s recent purchase, LensGroup’s turnover will reach more than 24 million euro, up 24 % compared to last year.
CEO Koen Anné attributes the other half to the structural collaborations with local opticians. “Customers buy their lenses with us online and can pick them at a local optician or get them delivered at home”, he told De Tijd. “We also refer these customers to an optician for eye examinations and therefore bring people to the store.” LensOnline sells lenses for 80 out of 2,100 Belgian opticians, who get paid a fee for every lens sold.
"Continued growth is a must"
Now that it has bought a lens web shop in Germany, it has ventured into one of Europe’s largest markets. “We are expanding our network in every country and we have also planned a rapid expansion in Germany”, Anné said. “We have to grow fast, because there is a lot of competition and there will undoubtedly be new competitors soon too, considering the growing interest from global lens manufacturers and online giants like Amazon and Alibaba.”
LensGroup sold 50 % of its shares to investment fund BV Capital Partners and Aquasourça last year. The latter belongs to the family which founded French Carrefour. This way, LensGroup hopes to achieve its rapid growth forecast and its desire to distribute lenses across Europe from its Kruibeke-based warehouse. LensOnline has been present in the Netherlands, Italy and Spain for quite some years. LensGroup also has web shops in France, Austria, Luxembourg and Greece.