Friday, August 19, 2022

Lenskart takes steps to become Asian eyewear giant

Owndays will operate as a separate brand led by co-founders Shuji Tanaka and Take Umiyama, but target the premium segment, while Lenskart will focus on the middle and mass market segments

 PRAVASISAMWAD.COM

Lenskart will buy a majority stake in Japan’s Owndays Inc. in a deal that is all set to create one of Asia’s biggest online retailers of eyewear. Indian startup Lenskart is backed by SoftBank Group Corp. and has agreed to buy Owndays shares held by L Catterton Asia and Mitsui & Co. Principal Investments, the companies said in a statement, reported Bloomberg.

The deal has valued the Japanese chain at about $400 million, according to reports. Owndays will operate as a separate brand led by co-founders Shuji Tanaka and Take Umiyama, but target the premium segment, while Lenskart will focus on the middle and mass market segments.

Lenskart will own a majority stake in Owndays but the deal has been designed as a merger, Lenskart said.

Lenskart is now building, what it says is, the world’s largest eyewear manufacturing plant northwest of Delhi. The $150 million factory will send out 50 million pairs of eyewear annually

The merger will create a retail giant with operations in more than a dozen markets stretching from India and Japan to Southeast Asia. Lenskart, which uses technology and supply chain automation to directly sell eyewear to consumers, will lean on Owndays to expand its presence in physical retail.

“About 4.5 billion people globe-wide need to wear prescription glasses but only half of them do,” said Peyush Bansal, Lenskart’s 38-year-old co-founder and CEO. “We are seeing a $50 billion to $100 billion opportunity and a real chance to build an Amazon for eyewear.”

Lenskart should reach profitability when it hits $400 million in sales in the year ending March 2023, Bansal estimated. The two companies project combined sales of $650 million in that period, he said.

Lenskart was founded in 2010 and backed by Falcon Edge Capital, KKR & Co., Temasek Holdings Pte and PremjiInvest. It grew 65% last year and is projected to surpass that this year, Bansal has been quoted ast saying.

He co-founded Lenskart Solutions Pvt in 2010 outside New Delhi with three others he met on LinkedIn. It has grown into the country’s largest optical brand, shipping over 10 million pairs of eyewear annually, offering facial analysis-driven recommendations on its mobile app and home vision tests.

Tokyo-headquartered Owndays was founded in 1989 and opened its first overseas stores in 2013. It currently operates 460 stores in a dozen countries besides Japan, selling over 2.5 million pairs of glasses annually. L Catterton and Mitsui acquired Owndays in November 2018 for an undisclosed sum. L Catterton was formed as a partnership between Catterton, luxury goods brand LVMH and Groupe Arnault.

Lenskart is now building, what it says is, the world’s largest eyewear manufacturing plant northwest of Delhi. The $150 million factory will send out 50 million pairs of eyewear annually, Bansal said.

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