Marks & Spencer has announced that its M&S Opticians service will be rolled out in 55 stores in the UK over the next 18 months.
The decision follows a successful trial, during which the service received a customer satisfaction rate of 96% and a customer recommendation rate of 96%.
Sacha Berendji, group property, store development and IT director at M&S, said, "We know our customers trust us to deliver first-rate specialist services – whether it's a suit-fit for a big occasion or a bra fit appointment with one of our expert colleagues – and M&S Opticians is just the latest example of this.
"Feedback from our trial showed that customers loved the convenience of having an Opticians within our store, and we're really excited to be introducing the service to more stores across the UK and giving customers even more reasons to shop at M&S."
The rollout has commenced with the recent launch of M&S Opticians at Longbridge (Birmingham), Metro Centre (Gateshead), Hedge End & West Quay (both Southampton), Bluewater (Dartford) and Culverhouse Cross (Cardiff).
Currently, the service is available in 12 stores, with a further 43 to follow over the next 18 months.
All 55 branches will be operated by opticians and hearing care provider Owl Optical, part of the Scrivens Group of Companies, with an extensive range of M&S branded and third-party branded frames.
Nicholas Georgevic, chairman of Owl Optical, said, "Following a very successful trial, we are extremely excited by the expansion plan for M&S Opticians over the next 18 months. Working in partnership with M&S, we aim to offer a market-leading optical and hearing care service across the whole of the UK - spanning M&S glasses, designer brands, sunglasses, and our comprehensive hearing care customer proposition.
"We're particularly looking forward to growing our M&S Opticians team to deliver this plan and are actively recruiting eye care and hearing care professionals as well as the front of house and back-office staff."
The idea behind M&S Opticians is to diversify the customer offer by introducing relevant services that give customers more reasons to shop with the retailer.
Furthermore, it allows the company to introduce complementary services within its existing store footprint, utilising the space available across its vast store estate.
The retailer added that the rollout comes when more people are prioritising their health and well-being after a year of missed appointments.
In the first few months of lockdown, between March-June 2020, more than 10,000 people in England, Wales and Scotland missed out on essential eye care, data from The Royal College of Ophthalmologists Annual Report 2020 showed.
In September 2021, 64% of people surveyed for the M&S Family Matters Index said they will now take their health more seriously than they did before the pandemic.
Sparks Loyalty Programme
The M&S Opticians service is already incorporated within M&S's Sparks loyalty programme, with local customers receiving targeted M&S Opticians emails, offers and rewards.
This is all part of the M&S strategy to offer an omnichannel experience that allows customers to shop the way they want to shop - whether in-store or online.
In addition to the physical experience in-store, customers can book appointments online at www.mandsopticians.com, as well as view, purchase and try on glasses via the innovative 'virtual try on' tool.
The omnichannel approach will help M&S capture a share of the UK opticians market, valued at £4 billion according to Opticians in the UK- Market Research Report by IBISWorld.
In September, the retailer pledged to achieve net zero in carbon emissions across its own operations, its entire supply chain and its products by 2040, ten years ahead of a government target for Britain.