Euro lands Vision Express account

Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper has won the £12 million pan-European creative account for the high-street optical retailer Vision Express.

The agency scooped the business following a four-way shoot-out against Lowe Dialogue and a third unnamed agency.

The pitch was led by Euro RSCG's joint chairmen, Brett Gosper and Mark Wnek. Vision Express spent £6 million in the UK last year.

Final presentations were made to Vision Express's French chairman, Daniel Abittan, who used to appear in the company's ads when the account was with Ammirati Puris Lintas.

Vision Express reviewed out of APL, ending up at the O&M subsidiary, Dialogue, after APL's merger with Lowe caused a client conflict with the Dollond & Aitchison account.

It is unknown if the ad brief handed to Euro RSCG, which will be run from the London office, will see Abittan feature in future creative work.

"We are delighted to be working with one of the most innovative retailers in Europe," Gosper said.

Vision Express, which has opened more than 200 stores across the UK since launching in 1988, competes against rivals including Specsavers, Dollond & Aitchison and Boots Opticians.

It also operates across Europe, under brand names including Grand Optique in France, through the 1997 merger with GrandOptical Photoservice. The alliance, now known as GrandVision, claims to be the largest optical retailing group in Europe.

The company has a billion-dollar turnover, with more than one-third of that derived from the core UK market.

The review comes amid tightening competition in the optical retail sector, which is worth some £2.1 billion in the UK. In the late 90s, Vision Express undertook a revamp of its stores to create a more stylish image, using a concept developed by Sir Terence Conran's CD partnership.

In March, Vision Express appointed Solution 2 to handle all its direct marketing activity after a five-way pitch against the incumbent, Dialogue, Draft Worldwide, JDA and Iceberg.

A Mintel report shows that opticians have seen a small decline in share recently as a result of other retailers' growing presence in the market.

UK opticians' market share fell from 92 per cent in 2000 to 90.9 per cent in 2002, compared with supermarkets, which enjoyed a 1.1 per cent rise to 3.1 per cent.

In January, D&A moved to revamp the appearance of its 400 stores with a new-look concept developed by Fitch: London.

DFGW holds D&A's above-the-line account after winning it from the incumbent, Lowe, without a pitch.