Residents of Caerphilly have been benefitting from quicker service and greater choice at their local Specsavers after the company’s latest concept store was installed in the town centre. The £500,000 development saw the opticians move down the road to revamped, 3,900 sq. ft. two-floor premises.
With the central aim of significantly reducing waiting times, the new shop is substantially larger than its predecessor and can offer the full range of Specsavers services. Richard Higginbottom, Specsavers Business Development Manager, spoke to Premier Retail about what prompted the move and how it will impact the business moving forward:
“In my role I work closely with store directors to look at the strategy for their business. I will look at things like when the lease is due to expire, what capacity issues we’ve got in the store from a testing number point of view as well as the store environment.
“The project came about from that. The unit which we were in, and had been in for the last 21 years, had served us very well but, because our business has grown substantially, we were outgrowing the premises. We were finding that we had long waiting times for eye tests and we couldn’t offer services like hear care.”
It was at this point the decision to move was agreed upon with Specsavers directors.
When such approval is given, a process is set in motion working to a six month cycle. Internal property acquisitions managers are given a brief to look for what properties are on the market, while financial projections are completed to make sure the move is viable. Once board approval is obtained, then the design and the layout of the new store is decided.
For Caerphilly, Richard explained the problems of the old store and how they looked to rectify them in the design process:
“In the old store there was only one consulting room with floor level access. There were also floor level changes, so from a disabled access point of view, it wasn’t ideal. In the new store we’ve got five consulting rooms on the first floor and three on the ground floor, with one of those hosting a sound-proof booth and extended audiology services, something which we weren’t able to offer in the old unit due to space and capacity.
“The new store is in keeping with the latest Specsavers design. On entering, instead of traditional desks, you are now greeted by a member of staff with a tablet device that is used to register the customer for their appointment. After this the customer is taken to the pre-testing area or to one of the customer lounges. It is very much a meet and greet service.
“The pre-screening areas on the ground floor also host a digital retinal photography camera which basically takes a picture of the back of your eye to monitor your eye health, as well as helping to spot other health conditions such as glaucoma and diabetes. After the eye test, customers are led by staff to a spacious environment which displays 1,350 frames, giving them a huge selection of glasses to choose from. We’ve got the full Specsavers range within the store.”
Internally there was quite a lot of work required to overhaul the space, including the installation of a retail staircase. Feedback since the opening in May has been extremely positive. Customers have the familiarity of a store on the same street but a streamlined service and notably shorter waiting times.
“This was a major investment in the store from the directors and I think it shows their commitment to the town and community to offer the best optical and hearing services possible in a convenient location. There have been lots of positive comments from the customers and the new layout is a really great customer experience from start to finish.
“From my point of view, when we look at what’s been achieved in a relatively short space of time, we’ve managed to produce a fantastic looking store that offers all of Specsavers services.”