CENTENNIAL OPTICAL WAS FOUNDED IN 1967 AND IS BUILT ON A COMMITMENT TO SELLING EXCEPTIONAL OPTICAL GOODS AND SERVICES. WE TALK TO ALLEN NIGHTINGALE, VICE PRESIDENT OF CENTENNIAL OPTICAL ABOUT THE DIRECTION THE COMPANY IS MOVING IN AN EVER CHANGING EYEWEAR INDUSTRY.
How is Centennial different from other eyewear designers/ distributors?
Centennial is unique in that we offer our accounts the products and support to meet their needs for practically all aspects of their busi- nesses. We also create customized programs to support independent eyecare professionals, so they are able to thrive in a very competitive market with the internet, retail chains and big box stores.
What are some of the style features people can expect from Centennial?
Another unique aspect of our company is the diversity of product.
In addition to offering a complete range of lenses, contact lenses, sun- glasses, accessories and supplies, we launch approximately 360 different eyewear models each year, one for virtually every day of the year. Therefore, we can address just about any of our customers’ issues related to price, brand, and demographics.
What are the keys to Centennial’s long-term success in the eyewear industry?
Our founder, Roger de Pinto has always said: if our customers grow, then Centennial will grow with them. That’s why we think it is so impor- tant to provide our customers with the tools that can help them to grow their businesses. And, that’s the secret to Centennial’s growth over the past 48 years.
Where does Centennial draw inspiration for its designs?
We have a dedicated team that travels the world, picking up on trends and learning about new technologies. We focus our attention on the Canadian market, but we work with an international network of suppli- ers, so we’re aware of what is going on in the rest of the world. We meet regularly with our design brand companies so that we’re able to com- municate their design inspirations through the eyewear collections.
What can the industry expect from Centennial in the next year (Design, technology, branding)?
We have been building our sun port- folio and currently offer Serengeti, Bollé and REVO sunglasses. We will be adding a fourth line to provide a complete sun strategy
to our accounts.
SPINE technology was launched this year with tremendous success. We are constantly trying to keep up to the demand for this collection. In 2016, the SPINE hinge will be available in a new smaller size and we will expand the category beyond men. Watch for Zac Posen, Beaver Canoe, Aspire and more to come in 2015 and 2016.
There are also exciting new lens products to be introduced this year that represent the latest technology in lens customization and in UV and blue light protection.
How have you seen the Canadian industry change over the past 5 years and what has been the driver of this change?
There is no question that the story has been about consolidation at both the independent and chain levels. We’ve seen the middle of the market squeezed, and that means the disap- pearance of mid-tier brands as well. In the lens side of the business, we’ve seen the same trends with the prolif- eration of private-label or unbranded products at one end and premium brand names at the other end.
What direction do you see the industry moving in? (Design, technology, branding?)
The key for independents to survive and thrive will be to partner with those suppliers that can provide strategic value and the tools that will help them differentiate themselves from their competition and provide added value to their customers.
Technology will continue to grow in importance as a competitive advantage and will be the direction to which consumers gravitate.
What eyewear are you wearing right now?
SPINE of course!