A little birdie told me that Optical Express might be planning to ‘rebrand’!
Last year they approached Arnott Eye Associates (their neighbours @ 22 Harley St), perhaps with a name change in mind, but Arnott’s Director Richard Packard recently assured me, "There are no current negotiations between Arnott Eye Associates and Optical Express and none anticipated”.
It makes sense that OE may be considering such a move, not least because their history of recent years is chequered with bad press - not forgetting the relentless shadow of OERML - and their withdrawal of aftercare beyond 12 months, no matter how damaged the patient, suggests they are unconcerned about the increasing complaints and negative publicity associated with the company name.
And, as more and more people are suddenly discovering that they now have to pay for eye tests they were told were free for life, OERML is flooded with emails every day from people wanting advice!!
Definitely not the way to entice new customers and inspire trust!
Another way to rebrand is to put a company into administration - farcical that this is described on Wikipedia as "a process designed to protect limited companies from their creditors”!
Pre-pack administration is also an option, whereby the company secures a buyer before entering administration, usually for a fraction of the value, and it is possible for the previous directors or management to purchase the assets of the company from the administrator and set up a new company - as David Moulsdale did with the Bridgewater Manchester Hospital in 2015.
While totally unfair to creditors, pre-packs are highly attractive to companies who simply want to shake off their debts and responsibility to previous customers - or in OE's case, responsibility to their patients, especially the thousands of damaged ones!
An example of this is Cobra Beer, who sold to Coors immediately after they entered administration in 2009. The brand continued but left suppliers out of pocket by an estimated £75 million.
How the hell can a company continue to operate with liabilities of £14mil, which could actually be as high as £151mil?!
Yes that is correct one hundred and fifty one MILLION pounds, which doesn't include that owed to HM Revenue & Customs!!! No doubt OE's clever accountants and legal beagles will do their best to ensure that the life style of their client won't be affected no matter what the outcome.
Then again, maybe there's a twist in the tail still to come
It is currently being extensively renovated, I’m told by the onsite workmen, for millionaire owner of Optical Express and will feature a penthouse flat (for) the owner and a restaurant and call centre spread over its remaining six storeys.
Vincent St location is described as the representative's headquarters. Hugh Kerr and his buddies prefer to be here than at the less prestigious Cumbernauld head office at Westfield Industrial Estate.
I'm assuming what Johnnie Singh really wants to know is where this would leave their patients?
In the same way Optimax owner Russell Ambrose did the dirty on the Ultralase patients OE could do the same, and I have to say I'm amazed they haven't.
OE patients with problems were left with nowhere to turn after the two most recent administration scams and I'm sure we can look forward to more.
I heard the Glasgow Renfield Street clinic closed two days ago, apparently they're now performing laser operations out of their head office at 200 St Vincent Street.
I would expect anyone already in a legal fight with OE will be covered by their insurers if they go into liquidation. But there'll be many many more who'll unfortunately have no chance of medical after care or financial recompense when that happens.