The Giftware Association spoke to Buying Director Gillian Marchbank about her Opticaid, its place in the market and its future goals.

Can you tell us a bit more about your company?

We design and supply Remaldi reading glasses, sunglasses and other optical products to the retail sector as well as a collection of gifts.  We also dispense prescription glasses but our main focus is the ready reading market.

Who is your audience?

Customers who are age 40 + who need a little help with their close up vision but want a quality  design led pair of glasses.  Our fashion and classic frames are both popular.  They want to look good but don’t want to compromise on eye care.

Our range sells well online, in Department Stores, Garden Centres, Bookshops, Pharmacies and gift shops as well as tourist attractions.  We also offer more specialist glasses such as those designed for fishing and other sports.

How long have you been trading and what is the history of the company?

The company was formed in 1989 by my father in law Roger, who realised there was a market opportunity for ready reading glasses.  At this time regulations changed and you no longer had to be an optician to sell “off the shelf” reading glasses.  So …… he formed Opticaid Uk and started selling glasses alongside other optical products such as sunglasses and driving glasses.  Since 2008 we have focused on higher quality fashion reading glasses / sunglasses and have diversified into a small collection of gifts.

What three words best describe your business and its products?

Fashion with function,  quality, contemporary, family

Where do you find your inspiration?

The catwalks to determine the trending colours,  optical trade fairs,  my trusted suppliers and customer feedback to see what they like and don’t !  We try and identify customer’s optical needs / frustrations and offer a product to meet this.

Do you use social media to promote your business? How has this landscape changed over the years within the home and gift industry?

We have started to …..  but are relatively new to it.  I spend all my time telling my children to stop looking at their phones and I am now doing the same !

Do you do any advertising/PR?

Yes.  We attend 4 to 5 trade fairs a year (INDX, Spring Fair, Harrogate Buyers Festival and sometimes Scotland’s Spring Fair).  We advertise in trade press such as Garden Centre Buyer, Giftwear Review, Attire Accessories, Gifts Today.

What do you wish you’d known at the very beginning of starting your business that you know now?

Whilst not very glamourous good stock control is key.   There is no point generating demand if you can’t satisfy the sale.    Recruiting proactive staff with experience and the correct skill set is paramount for a small business.  Every person has a key role to play.

If we could help you with one aspect of your business, what would that be?

Website development (trade and retail) and the use of digital marketing.

What are you looking to achieve in 2020?

The launch of our first licensed range of premium reading glasses and RFID blocking credit card wallets in collaboration with I Like Birds.  (see press release ).  I am glad to say this product was shortlisted for Gift of the Year in 2 categories.

A new look modern transactional website for our trade customers

Increased use of social media to further establish the brand and increase sales

New product ideas to meet customers optical needs.

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