ODMA 2017 – Delivered!

As the CEO of ODMA, l am very proud to report the success of ODMA17 in July. It was a jam-packed three days with an array of new interactive features, major networking events and strong educational content, including revamped masterclasses and spotlight seminars.

We started the three days with the feature fashion parade in Martin Place, Sydney as part of Frame Fashion Week. Sydneysiders eagerly watched as Design Junction showcased high-end International and Australian eyewear brands, featuring the hottest frames on the market and new season collections from top eyewear brands. These included leading optical distributors Jono Hennessy Group, Healy Optical, General Optical, Mondoticca, Pelure, Nine Eyewear, Face Optics, Seen2see and Frost Eyewear Distribution.

These exhibitors also exhibited their design capabilities and the very latest in optical fashion and innovation in the Premier Brands area of ODMA17 at Darling Harbour.

ODMA fully embraced social media as the parade was live streamed on Facebook  

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The next day ODMA17 commenced at the newly built Convention Centre in Darling Harbour where we had over 3,270 trade visitors from all over Australia, New Zealand, Asia and further afield. There were 110 exhibitors, 150 Vision Summit delegates and 495 masterclass delegates.

ODMA17 received excellent feedback from exhibitors, Ryan Heggie, Business Manager of Device Technologies noted that with the return to Sydney there was an increase in attendees and as a result, ensured their booth was well visited. He felt having the booth at ODMA17 made his product top of mind with Optometrists and increased awareness of Device Technologies OCT product, especially with Optometrists who want to stay relevant in the marketplace.

The facilities at the new Darling Harbour, state of the art precinct were second to none and added to the vibe around ODMA17.

Mark Blackadder, Director of MYM Group told us he thought the new facilities were fantastic and a great place to attract interstate, international and local attendees. To complement these amazing facilities, we were very happy to see a new benchmark of stand design set by many of the exhibitors. This was reflected in The ODMA17 Stand Awards with nominees judged by an independent panel of senior representatives from the International Convention Centre, this included Helen Mantellato, Director Corporate Sales and Ruchi Ladkani, Business Development Manager.
The winners of the ODMA17 Stand Awards were:
De Rigo Vision Australia – Best Stand Over 54sqm 19905461_1409920775723725_3579451677582462946_n
Stepper Eyewear Australia – Best Stand 54sqm & Under
Special Agent – Best Shell Scheme Stand 18sqm & Under

 

Robert Sparkes, Chairman of ODMA, commented “For my first show as Chairman, I am delighted to have been part of this unifying industry event. I congratulate all the exhibitors on their high-quality presentations and thank all the visitors who attended – without our exhibitors and loyal visitors we could not have such a world-class event.”

I too would like to personally thank everyone who attended and exhibited ODMA17.  We have had excellent feedback from our visitors and the positive vibe from the show floor was fantastic. Now we are post-event, I look forward to assessing how we can evolve the offer further, making it even more successful in the years to come.

To view more images of the event go to our Facebook or Instagram pages or search #ODMA17 #ODMA2017

See you for ODMA 2019,

Finola Carey – ODMA – CEO

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How is Private Equity affecting Australian optics?

The-Promises-and-Challenges-of-Web-Consolidation

The Optometry industry has had many signals that consolidation in the industry is underway and that private equity may play a more active role going forward. Private equity owned companies are of the view that the eye care market is highly fragmented and ripe for consolidation and vertical integration.

The implications of these consolidations happening throughout the optical and vision care industry continually raise questions about how independent optometrists can survive. There have not been many investments in optical from commercial and financial players in the past, but now more prominent private equity groups are exploring optical and vision care in Australia today.

Optical is a business sector that has been highly fragmented and perhaps one which could benefit from increased consolidation and efficiency. The private equity companies examining the market are also doing more homework, about the business and its particulars.

Private equity companies know that the industry has strong fundamentals and demographics, and the aging population creates good demand, but it is still a very fragmented industry and there are concerns that, private equity firms may be investing to consolidate and fold them up.

Some of the questions and concerns we are hearing from the eyecare community in regard to this are from older, close-to-retirement practitioners who are considering their own potential exits from groups they’ve built over time. Can they transition these to other, younger partners? Is it wise to set their practice’s future with larger groups who have the resources to help smaller practices manage growth in a highly competitive future? Would it be best to spend more of their time turning over operational details to others? Is there a way for them to devote more time to direct patient care and vision solutions? Are their employees’ futures going to be secure after the deals are made? Can they still work there doing what they love without the ongoing business and management issues?

If you are considering selling you may have concerns and it can often take a long time. It depends on your current business and life cycle. For example, some Optometrists just want to sell for the highest price and get out and enjoy the spoils. For others, their concern is their staff – as often it is a priority they have a secure future. Some people are themselves, a second or third generation family business and want to preserve that name and that brand. Sometimes it’s a broader concern about remaining competitive in today’s business and health care climate that lead owners to make a sale. Everyone’s motivation and plans are different.

Quartet Ventures who own The Optical Company and Deep Optics are one Private Equity Investor looking for practices to acquire.  Others are not so well publicised but US PE firms such as Capital Vision Services, LLC, EyeCare Partners, LLC and EyeCare Services Partners Holdings, LLC, are likely to turn their attention to other markets soon.

The impending Luxottica and Essilor big merger heralds continuing consolidation in optics. However, consolidation will also occur in the small business and boutique markets eg George & Matilda.  In urban areas, the remaining independent practices may struggle to compete in a market dominated by chain stores and these equity financed outlets. It should be noted that mergers and acquisitions are not just happening in optics. It is happening to other areas of health care, including pharmacy and dentistry.

Acquisitions will likely continue for many years to come and independents will need to research their options carefully.  The best thing about a private equity investor is probably the speed with which the transaction can occur.  However, even young optometrists and practice owners should be exploring options for succession as soon as they get established.

 

Private Health Insurers putting the squeeze on independent Optometrists

Many independent practices have been asked to explain to their customers why they have a greater than expected out-of-pocket cost for their services than through their Health Insurers own outlet. When the customer is advised to refer back to their insurer the Insurer’s hotline staff blame the independent Optometrist saying it is their fault and they are ‘too expensive’.

This is affecting the Dental industry in a big way and is starting to become a more major issue in our industry too. Health Insurers appear to be using their member data and claims history to market directly to their customers and steer them to their contracted providers and particularly to health fund owned outlets.

This squeeze is occurring as health insurance fees rise.  Many people are opting out of private health insurance and the industry is trying to make their policies more viable by giving a perceived higher return.

Private health insurance policies have consistently kept low rebates for Optometry.  Some policies offer a fixed benefit whilst others offer a percentage rebate but both are subject to an upper yearly limit which has not increased substantially in the past 15 years.  Whilst the annual limits have helped drive insured customers into outlets more frequently than the old 3-4 year cycle, they have also helped drive down the average spend on eyewear.

The Health Insurers assert that consumers have private health insurance so they should have the health care provider of their choice. The problem independent practices have is that consumers are not totally informed that they may receive a lower rebate under their policy if that provider is not a contracted provider of the health insurer.  Even when an independent practice is a contracted provider there are instances where the health fund dictates the price that can be offered if the customer is claiming the item under a health insurance policy.   The dental industry has made submissions to the ACCC about this practice but it seems the ACCC only care about the cost to the consumer and not their choice of provider or freedom to select from the whole gamut of available product.

In saying that, not all Health Insurers have contracted providers, but we don’t believe that two policyholders with the same Insurer, same policies, same premium, having the same optical services, do not receive the same rebate due to their choice of provider. This is where it becomes discriminatory and affects independents ability to compete.

Optometrists are happy to compete on price as well as the quality of service and care. However, flexible rebate practices do not provide a level playing field.

Look for Life Foundation (formerly Genetic Eye Foundation)

Here at ODMA we aim to keep you up to date with all of the latest innovations and medical news from the industry.  As a part of this, we would like to share the article below from the Look for Life Foundation (formerly Genetic Eye Foundation) whose Chairman Professor Minas Coroneo is one of the keynote speakers at ODMA17 www.odma2017.com.au/conference

If you are not aware, the Look for Life Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to promoting awareness, diagnosis and support for patients with genetic eye conditions. To use their own words from their website “The foundation has made significant contributions to eye health research in Australia, including contributions to bionic eye research, the creation of the largest database of retinal dystrophy family trees in Australia as well as research into stem cell deficiency in the eye”.

This is a letter to the Foundation from the Chairman of Pixium Vision – Bernard Gilly.

Pixium Vision, is a company focused on restoring vision for people who have lost their sight. In 2010 there were approximately 40 -45 million people who were completely blind and for these patients t, ere is currently no treatment available.Capture

Pixium is developing Vison Restoration Systems, which aim to provide blind patients with visions as close to possible as normal. Each VRS comprises three components, and is associated with a
surgical procedure and a rehabilitation program. It is composed of a retinal implant attached to the retinal in the eye to stimulate nerve cells; a portable visual interface in the form of pair of glasses with an integrated mini-camera to capture visual information, and a pocket computer to convert the visual information into electrical signals transmitted to the implant to stimulate the retinal cells and create “vision”. To start, Pixium Vision intends to commercialise its VRS for retinitis pigmentosa (RP).

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) will follow. Theses irreversible pathologies affect people who had normal vision until the onset of symptoms. It is estimated that between 15,000 and 20,000 new RP patents lose their sight each year in Europe and in the United States. AMD affects many more people in Europe and the US with more than 350,000 to 400,000 new patents expected to lose their sight each year. Clinical studies for IRIS® started in June 2013 in a number of clinical centres in Europe.

So far, patients are tolerating the implant well, the devices are functional after implantation, and improvements in the visual perception of blind patents have been observed. PRIMA is a preclinical development and the company began clinical trials in Europe in 2016. Recent IPO was an important milestone in Pixium Vision’s development.

The company will use the proceeds raised from the IPO to support the clinical development and commercial launch of its IRIS® VRS in Europe and the Unites States, as well as the development of the PRIMA VRS to the point of its commercialisation in Europe.  IRIS® and then with PRIMA, Pixium Vision will be in a unique positon to significantly contribute to the restoration of vision for people who have lost their sight, enabling them to have more  independence and to play a greater role in society.

For more information of Look for Life Foundation – click here

For more information regarding Pixium Vision – click here

3D Printed Eyewear – is it the future?

Everyone is talking about 3D printing these days and its numerous applications. 3D printed eyewear has been around for several years, but it is still a niche product.  The core value proposition of 3D printing is its ability to create individual custom parts, which makes the fabrication of optical frames and now even lenses an intriguing prospect. The ability to create bespoke medical devices, tailored to an individual’s specific anatomy is one reason 3D printing has such a significant application for the optical industry.   Dresden Optical in Sydney (created by innovative Go Get Car Share founder Bruce Jeffrey) commenced its operations in 2015 by printing 3D frames in store but after a relatively short period moved to injection mold production like most other frame manufacturers.

Only last week Luxexcel received approval from the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) for their innovative 3D printed optical lenses. Headquartered in Belgium, Luxexcel produces 3D printed optical lenses using their Printoptical technology. These lenses do not require polishing and reduce the number of waste products associated with traditional lens manufacturing. To complement their lenses and to give an all-round offering to the industry, they have teamed up with Materialise and Hoya Vision to produced 3D printed frames

To us, this seems some way off becoming a viable proposition, as only last year Eyetalk attended a printing technology show and viewed the array of 3D printers and noted their applications in manufacturing in many industries. There were huge savings to be made in manufacturing processes for example when component parts could be printed and tested before creating metal machine parts.

However we noted that the minimum investment for a mid range machine was about $40K, but this could only produce approx 6 optical  frames at a time, which made the option of mass manufacture at this stage unrealistic. In addition, the quality of the optical frames that had been printed looked unattractive, the edges were rough and quality was quite poor. From this perspective the technology has a way to go.

On the flip side, Monoqool who are based in Denmark can produce 200x 3D printed glasses within 24 hours (see image) and the quality via their web site appears better than we viewed at the printing exhibition (click here to view) .

At this stage 3D eyewear is definitely an option for bespoke frames and that imonoqools where it is currently placed in the market – as a small niche and still a novel concept. When 3D printing becomes reliable enough this could be the way of the future and customers could create their own frames to fit their faces perfectly. It will be interesting to monitor the development of this technology as l am sure once they get it right, it will take off rapidly and as an industry we need to be on top of it – exciting times ahead!

Sources : https://3dprintingindustry.com/news/luxexcel-meets-iso-standards-3d-printed-optical-lenses-106931/

https://monoqool.com/3d-printed-glasses/

Imports into Australia – how can you plan ahead?

Australia is currently waiting to see the full effects of Brexit and Trump on the Australian dollar and the economy.

How do you plan ahead and know what to do?

The full effects of Brexit are yet to be felt, as the UK is currently negotiating with Australia for its own trade agreement, as is the EU. Predictions are, that this will impact commodity exports from Australia to the UK and Europe.

The effect of Brexit will not be felt in our industry as much as the latest movements in America.

Since the inauguration of President Trump, the AUD has increased to 75 cents against the USD as Americans wait to see if Trump fires up the economy.

The nervousness for us and our suppliers is the Chinese element. It is predicted that the USA will put a 45% tariff on goods imported from China, this, in turn, could slow China’s economy as it increases the cost of goods coming into in America along with the additional 45% tariff.

The question then is, how and will that affect Australian companies that import American brands which are manufactured in China? We don’t know the answer to this and the world is waiting to see what happens and if this is viable or not for America.

The flip side to this is, as the AUD increases, companies that directly import goods from China, where the currency is pegged to the US dollar, will be affected by the local currency’s upward moves.

How can you protect your business? Good financial advice is important and they may recommend a Forward exchange contract. This protects you from adverse movements in exchange rates by locking in an agreed exchange rate until an agreed date.