Riata Capital Group has acquired three regional eyecare groups and an optical lab. It formed a new company—Acuity Eyecare Holdings—to own and operate them going forward. The three eyecare business are Eyetique, based in Pittsburgh, Crown Vision Center based in St. Louis, and International Eyecare Center, based in Illinois. Acuity will also own First Look Optical Lab, a full-service digital laboratory located in a suburb of St. Louis and servicing a number of accounts in the Midwest.
Riata reports that 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. In 2011 it acquired Vision Source, which it sold to Essilor USA in late 2015.
Jeff Fronterhouse, co-managing partner of Riata, said, "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,” he continued. “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.”
Acuity will be led by CEO Matt Matthews, the former CEO of Crown Vision; CFO 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 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.