Owndays to open 20 optical shops in India after lockdown delay

12, Oct. 2020

Owndays India opens its first store in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru on Oct 1, 2020. The company had relocated one of its stores from the eastern Indian city of Kolkata to Bengaluru. Photo courtesy of Owndays India)
Owndays India opens its first store in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru on Oct 1, 2020. The company had relocated one of its stores from the eastern Indian city of Kolkata to Bengaluru. Photo courtesy of Owndays India)

By Atul Ranjan

NEW DELHI, NNA- Japanese eyewear retailer Owndays Inc., which began its India operation last year, is planning to open as many as 20 stores by the end of next year.

The ambitious expansion is aimed at the huge numbers of people who need prescription glasses, a market that has been unevenly distributed in India, according to a senior executive of the company.

“Our plan was to increase store count to over 20 in the country by the end of this year, but it got delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown,” Sanjay Malhotra, business head at Owndays’ local subsidiary Owndays India Pvt. Ltd., told NNA in a phone interview.

He added, “But now with the market slowly opening up, we are looking to resume our expansion plans in India.”

Malhotra said that the company is in the midst of setting up three new outlets in the next two months in cities such as Mumbai, Bengaluru and New Delhi.

“We’ll have at least eight stores by the end of this year in the country, and are hopeful of increasing our store count further to 20 by next year,” he said.

The eyewear brand, which offers complete one-stop service, recently relocated one of its stores from the eastern Indian city of Kolkata to the country’s southern city of Bengaluru.

It is now looking to expand its footprint across various cities such as Hyderabad, Pune, Chandigarh Ahmedabad as well as Chennai, where it opened its first shop in 2019.

To boost sales further, the company will launch its online store by next year.

To stay ahead of the competition, the company uses sophisticated Japanese eye-testing equipment to carry out eye checks and help make prescriptions quickly.

The whole process including the selection of lenses and frames is usually completed within 20 minutes, which Owndays touts as its unique customer service. Some customers might take a longer time deciding on the look of their eyewear as Owndays offers a wide range of frames, from the functional to the stylish and trendy.

“Spectacles with single vision lenses are made at our stores only, so we can deliver the spectacle then and there to our customers within just 20 minutes which is unique in the Indian eyewear industry,” Malhotra said.

Pricing its eyewear at around 6,000 rupees ($82) on the average, the company has positioned itself in the affordable, branded eyewear segment to cater to brand-conscious consumers who want expertly made lenses apart from looking good.

This more organized and professional approach accounts for about 10 percent of the total eyewear market in India, according to Owndays, which also has its own private labels.

On the factors driving the growth of branded eyewear in the country, Malhotra also noted that some consumers prefer to own multiple pairs of sunglasses to suit different occasions with greater exposure to foreign designer brands in the market.

But the more critical issue is catering to the growing numbers afflicted with myopia or short-sightedness, especially among Indian youth.

“Eye-care deficit has made India the 'blind' capital of the world," Malhotra put it bluntly, adding that the reality is that there are many people who need eye correction.

"So there is a huge scope for growth once you create an opportunity for such people to get their eyes checked and wear spectacles,” Malhotra added.

According to a October 2018 report by consultancy firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP, around 35 percent of the Indian population needed to have their vision corrected, but only 25 percent did so.

The report said the country’s eyewear market had been dominated by disorganization with uneven distribution of optical shops offering specialist prescription.

It also noted that not many people have ready access to affordable, good-quality branded eyewear as the price differences between branded and unbranded eyewear are substantial.

However opportunities abound due to the growing population. The eyewear market is expected to grow at over 9 percent, from $7.4 billion in 2017 to reach $13.6 billion by 2024.