LensCrafters brings eyewear and malls together. Part of the growing retail arm ( Luxottica Retail) of Italy's Luxottica Group, LensCrafters is North America's largest seller of eyewear and related services (based on sales), with about 955 stores in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico. The company-owned stores, mainly located in shopping malls, offer prescription frames and sunglasses (most made by Luxottica), contact lenses, and vision exams by an on-site optometrist. Most of the locations house in-store lens finishing labs. Beyond North America, Luxottica operates some 260 LensCrafters stores in China and Hong Kong. Founded in 1983, LensCrafters was acquired by Luxottica to increase its retail presence.
Luxottica has been investing in the premium aspects of the LensCrafters brand by remodeling stores and boosting the supply of fashionable, designer prescription frames and sunglasses. By upping the fashion quotient, LensCrafters hopes to convince its customers to replace their glasses and sunglasses more frequently with the latest styles.
However, the deep recession in the US depressed sales with comparable store sales at the chain down in 2009 and 2008. The company trimmed its US retail presence in 2009 while increasing the number of stores it operates in China. Since entering China, LensCrafters has grown to become a leader in the premium eyewear market there. Indeed, in mid-2010 Luxottica said it aimed to double its sales in China in the next five years and grow its store count to 500 LensCrafters shops in China by the end of 2013. – less