Inspecs looking ahead with confidence after overcoming turbulent ‘year of two halves’

April 28, 2023

A rebound in its European markets and continued growth in others gave Bath-headquartered spectacles designer and manufacturer Inspecs a positive end to 2022, with its chief executive describing it as a year of two halves.

The group, which produces a wide range of spectacle frames and lenses, including sunglasses and safety glasses, for markets across the world, also said it saw “opportunities ahead”, including the launch of key brands Barbour and Superdry in new markets, including North America and Asia. 

It would also continue to focus and investment in new optical technology and innovation, it said.

Annual revenues at the group edged ahead to $248.6m (£199.2m) from $246.5m, with pre-tax losses widening slightly to $9.5m from $9.1m.

During the year it sold a record 10.7m frames globally – up by 300,000 on the previous year – with increased sales of branded frames worldwide including Superdry, Botaniq, pictured, O’Neill and Saville Row Titanium.

Inspecs, which floated on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM market three years ago, was forced to reshuffle its board last year following the resignation of its chair, former Tesco boss and City grandee Lord MacLaurin. A warning over future sales made at the same time resulted in its shares losing half their value.

Inspecs chief executive Officer Richard Peck, an industry veteran who took up his role in December, said: “I am pleased to report that the group delivered record sales and increased the number of frames sold in what can only be described as a year of two halves.”

He said initiatives put in place to cope with “external headwinds” and cost-saving efforts to enhance operations at Norville, the historic Gloucester-based lens maker it bought in 2020, were having a positive effect, with its losses expected to reduce significantly this year.

“Sales of our branded products including Botaniq, Superdry and Savile Row Titanium, gained momentum during He also said its ‘skunkworks’ research and development team had delivered their first revenues, while expansion of its factory in Vietnam remained on track, with construction expected to start in the second half of this year.

"Operating in a resilient growing market, I am confident that our product offering, business model and strategy for growth will enable us to capitalise on the significant opportunities that lie ahead,” he said, adding that its first-quarter performance had been in line with our expectations and indicated that the European markets were rebounding.

Looking ahead, he said the board was optimistic, with a number of exciting opportunities on the horizon, including the opening up of China, the upcoming launch of key brands Barbour and Superdry in new markets such as North America and Asia, and the strong performance of its proprietary brands Titanflex, Humphrey’s, Botaniq, Savile Row and Jos.

“In addition, we have a good order book in our factories and are seeing synergies from making more of our own products in our own factories and combining locations across the world,” he added.

Chairman Robin Totterman, the former bond trader who launched the business in London in 1988 and later relocated it to Bath, described 2022 as “in many ways, another extraordinary year”.

He added: “We had to contend with the well-documented challenging business environment and experienced supply chain issues driven by ongoing Covid restrictions, rising energy prices and general scarcity of raw materials.

“In addition, the macroeconomic outlook and consumer confidence most notably deteriorated in Germany, a key territory for us, which is reflected in the group’s order intake being down on the previous year.

Inspecs’ customers include global optical and non-optical retailers, global distributors and independent opticians, with its distribution network covering over 80 countries and reaching approximately 75,000 points of sale.

It has operations across the globe: with offices and subsidiaries in the UK, Germany, Portugal, Scandinavia, the US and China (including Hong Kong, Macau and Shenzhen), and manufacturing facilities in Vietnam, China, the UK and Italy. 


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