Riata Capital Group announced the formation of Acuity Eyecare Holdings, a company that will own and operate North American eyecare groups and optometry practices. Acuity launches with a strong platform following the simultaneous acquisition of three regional eyecare groups:
· Crown Vision Center, based in St. Louis, which was ranked by Vision Monday as the 26th largest eyecare group in the United States based on locations;
· Eyetique, based in Pittsburgh, which was ranked the 30th largest eyecare group in the United States based on locations; and
· International Eyecare Center, based in Quincy, Illinois, which serves rural communities in Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa
Acuity begins operations with 61 locations across five states. Acuity will also own a large, full-service digital lab operation, The First Look Lab, that is located just outside of St. Louis.
Riata intends to expand Acuity into a market-leading eyecare platform through the acquisition of additional regional eyecare groups and independent eyecare professionals. The formation of Acuity is the second platform investment of the Riata principals in the eyecare sector. From 2011 to 2015, certain of the principals organized and led the successful acquisition of Vision Source, a market-leading network of independent optometry practices across the United States. Under the leadership of a seasoned management team, Vision Source grew from 2,300 to over 3,150 locations, making its network of member optometrists second only to Walmart in terms of number of locations. Vision Source was sold to Essilor USA in late 2015, generating strong returns for its investors.
"We are excited to build upon our strong network of relationships, experience, and track record in the eyecare industry to create Acuity Eyecare," Jeff Fronterhouse, Comanaging Partner of Riata, said in a company news release. "We understand the pressures, as well as the opportunities, for optometrists as the industry continues to evolve. As such, we see the formation of larger and vertically integrated corporate entities leading some smaller and mid-sized providers to consider partnering with groups like Acuity that can provide capable business, financial, and commercial support, allowing optometrists and their staffs to focus on meeting the eyecare and product needs of their patients.”
“The combination of these three successful eyecare groups, that together have experienced higher rates of sales growth than the overall market, provides Acuity with a strong initial base of operations in the Midwest region. Our focus going forward will be to support these groups, as well as others that join Acuity, with the tools and resources necessary to provide their patients with full-scope professional eyecare and the highest quality product assortment and value," Mr. Fronterhouse added.
Acuity is led by an experienced and successful management team, including Chief Executive Officer Matt Matthews, the former CEO of Crown Vision; Chief Financial Officer Doug Shepard, the former CFO of Eye Care Centers of America, Chief Merchandising Officer George Gebhardt, the former CMO of Visionworks, Vice President of Corporate Development Bret Davis, the former SVP of Business Development for Vision Source; and other senior executives from the leadership teams of Crown Vision, Eyetique and International Eyecare. Additionally, Acuity has assembled a board of directors consisting of experienced and very successful executives from the industry that will bring valuable insight as Acuity looks to expand.
“We are excited to be a part of the Acuity platform, which is well-positioned for success with the support of Riata, an experienced capital partner that brings a deep set of industry relationships," Mr. Matthews said. "In addition to the existing leadership teams at each of the three businesses, we have an impressive team at Acuity that brings substantial experience in important areas including medical eyecare, digital manufacturing and lab management, merchandising, supply chain, finance, and IT. We look forward to the exciting growth opportunities ahead for Acuity.”