Riata Capital Group (“Riata”) today announced the formation of Acuity Eyecare Holdings (“Acuity” or the “Company”), a company that will own and operate leading 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 very successful acquisition of Vision Source, a market-leading network of independent optometry practices across the United States. Under the leadership of a very 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.
Jeff Fronterhouse, Co-Managing Partner of Riata, said, “We are excited to build upon our strong network of relationships, experience, and track record in the eyecare industry to create Acuity Eyecare. 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.”
Mr. Fronterhouse continued, “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.”
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.
Mr. Matthews noted, “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. 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.”
Glenn Askew, a Riata Partner, commented, “Acuity is well-positioned for growth, and we will look to further expand the Company’s footprint in the Midwest and other regions organically and through the acquisition of additional market-leading eyecare groups and independent optometrists in attractive markets.”
In connection with the transaction, HPC Puckett & Co. provided financial advice to Crown Vision Center, Eyetique and International Eyecare Center.
About Riata Capital Group, LLC
Riata Capital Group is a leading Dallas-based private equity investment firm that partners with seasoned management teams to invest in growing, profitable, privately-held companies across North America with a focus on four core industry sectors: consumer, energy, healthcare, and business solutions. The firm takes a selective approach to investing in high-potential businesses whose owners and management teams want an investment partner with the capital, experience, and record of successful collaboration required to achieve their liquidity and value-creation objectives. Over the course of their careers, the principals of Riata have sponsored over 55 platform investments and 75 add-on acquisitions representing over $4 billion in transaction value. With significant investment experience, a balanced team with financial and operating expertise, a strong team of seasoned operating partners, and significant experience in the firm’s core sectors, Riata provides a compelling value proposition to business owners and entrepreneurs.
About Crown Vision Center
Founded in 1961, Crown Vision Center is a St. Louis-based eyecare group with 28 full-service eyecare centers. Crown offers affordable vision services and a wide variety of designer eyeglasses, sunglasses, and contact lenses to more than 60,000 patients in the St. Louis area each year. Additionally, Crown Vision Center owns a full-service digital lab, The First Look Lab, which surfaces, finishes, and AR coats lenses for Crown customers and third parties. Crown is also a provider of integrated medical eyecare services including LASIK, and the full range of Ophthalmology services and surgery. For more information, please visit www.crownvisioncenter.com or call 800.EYECARE.
Founded in 1979 by Norman Childs, Eyetique is a Pittsburgh-based eyecare group with 21 eyecare centers, operating under the brands Eyetique, 3 Guys Optical Center, Norman Childs Eyewear, and Chromos Eyewear. The Eyetique brand is a long-established, high-end eyecare group selling premium third-party brands and its own Norman Childs Eyewear Collection, which is handcrafted in the USA. 3 Guys Optical, which was purchased and rebranded by Eyetique in 2010, is an accessible, value-oriented eyecare retailer offering a wide selection of eyeglasses and contact lenses. Comprehensive eyecare services are offered across all Eyetique and 3 Guys Optical locations. For more information, please visit www.eyetique.com or call 800.422.5320.
About International Eyecare Center
Founded by Dr. Jack McDougall in 1981, International Eyecare Center has grown from a single location in Quincy, Illinois, to 12 locations serving Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. For over 30 years, IEC has provided its customers with the latest in eyecare, contact lens innovations, fashion eyewear, and comprehensive eye exams for the entire family. IEC is also a provider of integrated medical eyecare services, and the full range of Ophthalmology services and surgery. Standing behind its promise to its customers that “Your Vision is Our Focus,” IEC takes pride in its commitment to its patients, as well as every community that it serves. For more information, please visit www.iec2020.com or call 877.457.6485.