Glasgow-based optical retailer Mika & Me sets sights on major expansion

New Glasgow-based optical retailer Mika & Me is looking to have ten branches open across the UK within the next two years as it looks to “revolutionise” the market.

The firm was conceived in lockdown by siblings Barry Hutcheon and Wendy Bremner, an optician with 30 years’ experience, to create a “super-fast, and super-stylish” way to buy glasses.

Its vision is to transform the way people buy glasses in the UK, based on the Japanese principles of speed, style and attention to detail. Its goal is to have every sale of single-vision glasses dispensed from purchase in under 20 minutes, also explaining that Mika is Japanese for “beautiful” and Me means “eyes”.

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The firm also says it is the first optician in Britain to offer Japanese aspheric lenses, which are extremely thin, flat, and light, as standard.

Mika & Me was conceived in lockdown by Barry Hutcheon (pictured) and his sister Wendy Bremner. Picture: contributed.

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It opened its first store in Glasgow’s West End, marking an investment of £200,000 and creating ten jobs. Mr Hutcheon and Ms Bremner aim to by the end of this year open two stores in Aberdeen and Edinburgh, plus another in Glasgow, leading to the creation of a further 20 jobs. By 2023, they aim to have ten Mika & Me stores open throughout the UK.

Mika & Me says its unique selling point is aspheric lenses, while an example of new brands it is involved with is Bape, which the Scottish firm explained is a huge clothing brand in Japan and China. Mika & Me said it is the first UK supplier of Bape prescription glasses and sunglasses, and is already seeing large pre-orders for such products.

The Glaswegian business also sees an opportunity to move into the business-to-business market, especially as more workers are now based at home, often in front of screens all day. It added that under UK law, companies and organisations have a duty of care to manage the “optical risk” of their staff if they spend more than an hour a day working in front of a computer or device, with employers sometimes providing a basic pair of glasses if an employee requested this.

Coronavision

Mika & Me cited growing concern about the impact of intensive screen use on eyesight. Last year the College of Optometrists commissioned an independent study that found one in five adults in the UK said they thought their vision had worsened during lockdown, with one in three blaming extra screen time, and the condition has been dubbed “coronavision”.

Ms Bremner believes a simple solution for companies to start to manage their optical risk is to team up with local opticians to monitor the eye health of every staff member who uses a screen for work.

"This would be a first in Scotland,” she said. “Mika & Me can work with businesses to make sure workers’ eyesight is being properly looked after. “

This would include making sure staff are getting regular eye tests, and helping monitor changes in eyesight. “Our system is a simple, fast and effective way for employers to actively manage their optical risk,” she added.

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