Ten years and still going strong

The current staff of Specsavers Arbroath with directors Kenny Johnston and Jamie Buchan, front centre. Picture by Anne Johnston Photography.
The current staff of Specsavers Arbroath with directors Kenny Johnston and Jamie Buchan, front centre. Picture by Anne Johnston Photography.

Specsavers Arbroath are marking the milestone of trading and have already signed a lease in the Abbeygate Centre for another 10 years.

Here, director of Specsavers Arbroath, Jamie Buchan tell us the story of their 10 years in business.

March 1, 2004 was the day Specsavers Arbroath officially opened its doors for the first time to the general public.

Whilst the shop-fit was going on, we had so many people pressing their noses up against the glass that Kenny and I had decided that we would just open the doors and let people come in and have a nosey.

I’m glad we did, because that day we booked about 150 appointments – and we’ve never looked back since!

We started off with five members of staff plus myself and Kenny and we had one test room.

We got so busy, so quickly that we had to kit out our second test room and employ more staff after three months when the projections had forecast that was on the cards for around the year three mark.

Arbroath was arguably the most successful new store opening for many years, and we became the model store for people to look at.

There are many reasons for this success, but I think primarily the Arbroath people just get what we are about and appreciate it.

Kenny and I have always tried to get under the skin of what people want and try to give it them before they’ve known that’s what they were actually looking for from their optician.

Over the last 10 years, the store has won many awards for its service, quality control standards and also individuals have been nominated for, or won, prestigious professional awards. 

Over the last 10 years, we’ve saved many people’s sight through identification of eye problems and referral to specialists, as well as directly saving the lives of nine people whom we identified had brain tumours, eye tumours and someone who had narrowing of the arteries, which could have caused a fatal attack at any time.

Every one of these incidences had a positive outcome and it was due to the knowledge and skills we have developed over the years, as well as investment in state of the art equipment.

These moments make you very proud of what we achieve on the clinical level.

An eye examination isn’t just about whether you need glasses or not – it is an essential health check that you should have every 12 or 24 months, age dependent from the age of four.

Over the years, our store has grown to three test rooms with an external support unit and our team has grown to 30-plus members of staff with many from our first year still with us.

A job with Specsavers Arbroath isn’t just a job for most. It is a career that offers amazing opportunities for professional development.

Nothing has made us prouder than the people we have employed from various backgrounds and developed into home-grown talent, and we have supported several members of staff through university who are now fully qualified Ophthalmic Opticians, Dispensing Opticians and ILM Certified managers.

We also presently have eight more people at various stages of their professional and managerial development. 

What continues to amaze us, is the constant stream of new customers. On a business level, we enjoy a market share in Arbroath of over 80 per cent.

This is the highest in market share in Scotland, in the top five in the UK for Specsavers, and we still average over 20 new customers per week coming though our doors for the first time.

The store turns over more than £1.3m per annum and has shown growth for each of our 10 years in business. We endeavor to spend as much of that as we can locally and we do the bulk of that through job creation. 

We’ve just renewed our 10- year lease in the Abbeygate Centre, so who knows what the next 10 years will bring, but like the first 10, we’re ready for them and will continue to grow and adapt to our customers’ needs.