Here’s a rumor that’s worth consideration.
VSP certainly appears to be about to make a purchase of some significance. They’ve filed for a $700million acquisition and the filing indicates that the acquisition is pending approval by certain state authorities. The current rumor (triangulated from several independent directions, but not confirmed) is that VSP is buying Marchon. That’s interesting and makes some sense.
Certainly, Marchon is likely ripe for divestiture. Al Berg and Larry Roth (together with Jeff White, who passed away a couple of years ago) have done an outstanding job building the Marchon brand. And Marchon has Officemate, which appears to be the leader in EMR conversions. It stands to reason that, with so many things changing; with the owners at a stage where they’re likely ready for a rest; with few strategic buyers likely interested in a frame distribution company; they’re likely looking to cash out. If that’s the case, I wish them well. Larry and Al have been leaders in the industry and will be missed.
As for VSP, they’ve certainly not made their Altair line a household name. They likely feel that they need to play in the designer sandbox because of the Luxottica/EyeMed connection and the Highmark/Viva connection (VSP’s two largest competitors are vertically integrated, both to leading eyewear designers). I, for one, like competition and certainly competition for VSP has been good for our retail clients. This competition over the past few years has resulted in the relaxation of some of VSP’s policies towards providers and improved reimbursements.
Let’s see how this one plays out. What are the strategic implications?