OUR CONTRIBUTION-TO OUR INDUSTRY

Expanding The Market in Optical Industry,
Enhancing The Business of The Local Side

The text below was written by H. Erol Harbi, the Chairman of the Boards of Opak Lens
addressing local independent optical stores
and published in Optik Gazete as a-4-episode article in June 2019

 

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What We Have Done (So Far) For Our Industry?


Our Valuable Colleagues, 

In the optical industry we are engaged in and provide services for various different lines of business.

 

Our product categories may be listed as follows:

  • Ophthalmic lenses

  • Contact lenses

  • Contact lens solutions

  • Complementary Products

  • Innovative Optical Products

 

As regards to the part of the logistics services, the products that we manage under these five categories have 72,952 SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) in a total of 304 main categories.  When it is considered that 85% of these SKUs are active stock products, those who are familiar logistics business and services can easily understand from these figures what a huge amount of work we are carrying out in stock management.

Needless to say, logistics is not only about managing warehouse, in this context, it should be taken into consideration that we have been distributing optical products to 86% of the optical stores all over Turkey.   

Now let’s list the services that we are providing in the optics industry:

  • Distribution of optical products (Logistics Services) - Opak Lens A.Ş.

  • Import and export of optical products – Cihan Medikal A.Ş.

  • RX Laboratory – Akay Optik A.Ş.

  • Optical Industry Digital News Portal: optikgazete.com  - HC Ltd.

  • Local Independent Optical Store   – Harbi Optik Ltd. (It stands out from our other group companies with its independent structure as a family company. It offers services in İstanbul through its 4 stores. It makes a significant contribution to group companies providing internal information about the current problems of the retail business. )

 

In short, we actively take part in the fields of sales, marketing, distribution, export, import, production and news broadcasting in the optical industry both as a retailer and wholesaler and we also have acquired a remarkable know-how and experience in these fields. 

Thus far I have addressed the trading aspect of the business.

As on various occasions, I have put into words, whether in writing or orally, I, as the chairman of these corporations, personally like trading.  And I believe that the trading carried out complying with the legal and ethical requirements is a blessed business.

The fundamental principles of our trading philosophy are as follows:

  • Taxed earnings are blessed.
    All of our companies are founded on a well-established infrastructure in terms of both technology and accounting.  For long years, all of our accounting records are reviewed, audited and approved on a monthly basis by a certified public accountant before filing our tax returns and paying the relevant tax.
    Furthermore, we are being audited by an independent auditing firm on a monthly basis for many years.    
    We are proud of contributing to the development of our country through our taxes. 

  • We develop skills and grow together with our team. 
    At present, we have over 400 fellow employees working in our companies.  Assuming that each employee has a family, with an average of four persons, it would mean that with this number of employees we have a big family consisting of 1600 members. 
    We invest in training our people, and we train our people as well trained and informed individuals through the trainings that we provide for them.   
    “Being a good person” is the most important qualification that we look for during the recruitment process.   
    We can transfer knowledge to our people about the industry and products but we cannot train them how to become a good person, we can only set an example for them.  We take pride in transforming the good people in our team into well-trained and informed people of our industry and having a productive business family beneficial to his home country and society.  

  • Our motto is to help others win as we do.
    The basic principle of trading is to make money, and needless to say we always strive to increase our earnings.  However, we had many successes with learning to work together to win the game rather than trying to win only by ourselves and we try to go through ways to make others win and at the same time being the cause for this.
    We have built our sales strategies on the formulas that we have developed to support local independent optical stores to make them increase their earnings.    

 

Now we have come to the stage that goes beyond the trading aspect of our business.

 

We are not only engaged in trade for the last 15 years but also work hard through a variety of projects to ensure market growth in favor of local independent optical stores and development of our industry at the local level.

 

Now let’s examine and go through these topics briefly and one by one :

 

Subject I:
OUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CONTACT LENS MARKET IN TURKEY.

 

I have written on several occasions that I worked in my childhood during summers and subsequently as a professional in the optical store founded in 1964 by my deceased father Halit Harbi. Consequently, my first workplace for many years had been my father’s store. After I had become familiar with the contact lenses, I began to think that “this business is the future of our industry” and I tried hard to learn whatever I can about contact lenses. 

 

As a result of my curiosity, passion and focus on this subject, we got to a stage in 1993 where we were selling almost 10 % of the total contact lens sales throughout Turkey by ourselves in my father’s store in Ortaköy.  Contact lenses are very special for me in that sense.

In 2004, by virtue of the “Law on Opticianry” No 5193, the license to sell contact lenses has been granted to optical stores, and this has been a milestone for me personally. Opak Lens and Cihan Medikal were established in 2004.  In the same year, Cihan Medikal has gained its place side by side with the world-renowned contact lens manufacturers as the representative of Elegance brand contact lenses. On the other hand, Opak Lens has undertaken the wholesale distribution and sales of contact lenses to local independent optical stores.

 

In 2004, only around 50-60 optical stores were selling contact lenses,  15 years later today all optical stores know very well and  sell contact lenses, I believe that our activities in this field have made a significant contribution to this situation.  

 

In those years, sales were mainly conducted by ophthalmologists and hospitals.  On the other hand, global chain stores were selling much more with their well-trained staff since they were well aware of contact lenses, and more importantly they had the opportunities to, at all times, supply those contact lenses at a more convenient prices because of their international connections.   The presence of Opak Lens, had triggered a reallocation in the market shares of contact lenses at that stage, resulting in a significant shift in market shares in favor of local independent optical stores.

 

Opak Lens, as a large-scale wholesaler and distributor with a wide network, relying on legal means caused ophthalmologists to opt out themselves from selling contact lenses.  And more importantly, Opak Lens, using its purchasing power in bulk buying, forced hospitals and global chain stores to buy lenses from large lens suppliers based on a price matrix. And thus by its very nature, local independent optical stores had the opportunity to reach a position where they can compete with global companies that were able to make their purchases at large discounts.

 

Thanks to our educational, training and promotional activities as well as creative themes and arrangements for attractive window displays in the course of time, local independent optical stores had the opportunity to begin to enter the game and acquire their current strong positions in the contact lenses market.       

 

Let’s throw a glance at what we have done so far?  

 

1. WE PROVIDE THE QUICKEST DELIVERY SERVICE POSSIBLE TO LOCAL INDEPENDENT OPTICAL STORES

  • Opak Lens has established 47 warehouses-branch offices in 33 cities within 15 years.  
    Opak Lens is the company which provides the quickest delivery of contact lenses and ophthalmic lenses.

    • At the present time, there is no other company with a distribution network at this size.

    • Opak Lens, with its 100 % domestic capital, provides services to only local independent optical stores.  It doesn’t provide services to global optical chains.  

    • Opak Lens can deliver products to 4234 optical stores on the same day, accounting for 75 % of the total optical stores amounting to 5640 to which it provides services.    

      This fast, reliable and punctual delivery service allows local independent optical stores to procure contact lenses for their customers one day earlier than internet sellers and global chain stores in their regions creating a competitive advantage to them.      

      • Opak Lens provides services to 5640 optical stores corresponding to 86 % of the total optical stores operating in Turkey.  

      • We provide services

        • To 1605 optical stores within 15 minutes

        • To 2204 optical stores within 2 hours

        • To 425 optical stores within 6 hours

      • Whereas

        • We deliver products to 1406 optical stores by cargo the day after they are ordered.   

  • Opak Lens is a wholesaler which places a special emphasis on availability of all stock items.  It holds a significant volume or number of stock items for all product ranges.  All regions hold a high volume of stocks in their regional warehouses to serve and deliver their customers in their respective regions for a period of 10 days without supplying products from the central warehouse.

  • Opak Lens started to implement toric contact lens stock management in its warehouses in 2015, which in turn gave rise to an increase in lens sales.  As a principle it kept a sufficient stock for toric various places with a view to allow local independent optical stores to move one step ahead of internet sellers and global optical chain stores in supplying products to their customers.   

 

2. WE HELP LOCAL INDEPENDENT OPTICAL STORES TO INCREASE THEIR MARKET SHARES  

  • It is considered that there are around 950.000 contact lens users in total in Turkey. 

  • Around 50 % of these users are the customers of the local independent optical stores to which Opak Lens provides services. 

 

3. WE SUPPORT LOCAL INDEPENDENT OPTICAL STORES AND OPTICIANS OF THE FUTURE WITH TRAINING 

Throughout the last 15 years, Opak Lens has organized hundreds  of training seminars to introduce and promote contact lenses to optical stores and to encourage them to sell contact lenses.

  • Throughout 2013 and 2018, it organized 53 seminars in different cities and in these five years more than 6000 people were briefed on contact lenses.    

  • In the same years, in 13 universities located in different cities which include opticianry courses in their curriculum, more than 1500 students were briefed on contact lenses.  

  • In recent years, Opak Lens, in close collaboration with academics, hosts opticianry program students from several different universities in its headquarters and central and branch warehouses to provide them information on the product and optical industry.    

  • Every year during Silmo Istanbul Optical Exhibition, Opak Lens held several mini seminars and competitions through which more than 500 participants were provided with information about contact lenses.   

 

4. PROMOTIONAL ACTIVITIES TO PROMOTE CONTACT LENSES OF A PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE FOR US   

  • Visits, campaigns; 

    • We visit all optical stores in all regions of Turkey, with which we work at periodic intervals on a regular basis.  In these visits, we provide them with promotional materials, brochures and demo products to allow them to demonstrate the products and their features to their customers. Furthermore, in the meetings held during these visits we give them one to one to help them increase their contact lens sales.  

    • In these visits we always carefully listen to optical stores, and take notes about their needs, and if they articulate the needs of users, we place a special emphasis on the conversation to learn these needs in every tiny detail, and all pieces of information are collected and compiled in the headquarters and carefully interpreted and taken into consideration in developing sales strategies and actions. Thanks to this approach, a great many of our services have been shaped and developed taking into consideration and more importantly giving a particular importance on the needs and requirements of the local optical stores. 

    • With a view to increase the sales volume of local independent optical stores, we have been planning, developing and launching various product packages tailored to the needs of users or campaigns with discounts or gifts on a regular and continuous basis. 

  • Catalogues, brochures, promotional materials, shop window visuals  

    • The first catalogue on contact lenses was designed, developed, printed and released in Turkey. This catalogue, which has been designed and prepared in a very detailed and comprehensive manner, is in the nature of a formal and solemn guide book for local independent optical stores  in terms of quickly answering all the questions of an user that may be asked during the course of a sales process and helping users select any such lens in conformity with the prescription since it contains all technical specifications and detailed user instructions as well as prices of all products.  This comprehensive catalogue which has been printed every year has been a great aid for optical stores in their contact lens sales. Various product brochures, to which new ones are being added ever year, visual materials for product demonstration and promotion in shop windows and demo sets have supported and helped optical stores to increase their contact lens sales in particular in terms of colored contact lenses.   Likewise,  as regards to ophthalmic lenses, thanks to demo sets used to explain  blue –light blocking ophthalmic lenses,  optical stores have saved a lot of time  in explaining the products by demonstrating them. 

  • Public Service Announcements

    • With the support and efforts of Opak Lens, Prof. Dr. Zeki Tunç introduced and explained contact lenses in  a TV program aired by Kanal D in 2013.

    • In 2016, Opak Lens had become a sponsor to the Health of Ministry for the production and shooting of a public service short film that was aired in several TV channels and also had played an active role in all preparation phases of this public service short film.

  • Shooting of the first training video in Turkey

    • In 2005, Opak Lens had a training film shot with a view to explain and show how contact lens sales should be made and ensured that this training film was watched by appropriate officials, managers and authorized persons of optical stores.

  • Special Coverage during the Main News Bulletins 

    • Between 2015 and 2016, Opak Lens ensured that the stories of the victims who bought contact lenses from internet to be reported as breaking news during the main news bulletins of Kanal D, Fox TV, Show TV and NTV channels.

  • Cooperative Advertising with Vodafone

    • In 2015, Opak Lens had gone from strength to strength with its investments in information technology and listed among the Fastest Growing Enterprises of Vodafone.   TV commercial of Vodafone designed on this theme was broadcast on several channels for a long time. Full page “advertorials” giving information about the product in the style of an editorial or objective journalistic article were published in the print media. These advertisement activities have led to important results in terms of the promotion of the optical industry specific to Opak Lens.

  • PR Activities

    • Opak Lens has ensured that informative advertising that is carried out in an informative manner with a view to introduce contact lenses and promote their features and benefits giving the advertisement look of an official article was published in various national and local media. These essays and articles were prepared together with ophthalmologists in a manner to provide public with information about the industry as well as to provide users with detailed information about the use of contact lenses. 

  • Promotional activities on the social media

    • In 2014, Opak Lens spent a significant marketing budget to prevent illegal sales of medical products through the internet and designed,  developed and launched a project to create and raise awareness about the dangers of buying contact lenses through the internet  by reaching people who Google search for information about contact lenses they are interested. This project was designed and developed with  the purpose to reach contact lens users who access the system through google search  and to warn them about the dangers of buying contact lenses through the internet and to  direct them to an local independent optical stores in their region offering a special discount price. However, implementation of the system was hindered by the manipulation of some global supplier companies who hesitated considering that this system would block internet sales (however, interestingly enough, subsequently, this company copied the idea of the project and tried to implement it by building a new structure and system. )   

    • Opak Lens’s web site www.kontaklens.org was developed and launched in 2012 and from that time to the present it has been serving as the most extensive contact lens website in Turkey.   

  • Social Responsibility Projects 

    • Opak Lens has been trading and  carrying out business by providing and /offering  low vision and reading aids and tailored services to partially sighted persons through both sales of contact lenses and ophthalmic lenses.  In addition to the foregoing, Opak Lens has developed various social responsibility projects to ensure that the industry members who provide services to partially sighted persons also provide services and support totally blind persons and contributed to the raising of awareness and has concomitantly made this approach of the optical industry visible to the society.                 

      • In 2016, within the scope of the Silmo İstanbul Optical Fair, Opak Lens together with the Parıltı Association Support for the Blind Children supported the “Seeing Fingers” project and donations were raised to typewriters with Braille alphabet and keys, each which costs around US $ 1.000, buy for primary school children. 

      • In 2017, within the scope of the Silmo İstanbul Optical Fair, Opak Lens together with the Association for the Education and Development of the Blind donations were raised to buy walking sticks and training tools and educational materials for the blind and visually impaired primary school children.  

      • In 2018, within the scope of the Silmo İstanbul Optical Fair, the same project was repeated once again and donations were raised to buy walking sticks and training tools and educational materials for the blind and visually impaired primary school children.

    • In 2017, in the World Sight Day, the “Dining in the Dark” event of 40 people was held.   This event which was held with the participation of the industry participants provided a meaningful and experimental insight into how blind experience food and drink. This event, which was reported as news on Kanal D TV Channel, helped raising awareness of blindness and visual impairment as well drawing attention to eye health and optical industry.        

    • In the Call Center of Opak Lens, we give job priority to visually impaired persons.  In this context, in the Silmo İstanbul Exhibition, announcements are made to participants and visitors saying “If you have friends who you think that will make an application for a job as a blind or visually impaired job seeker you may receive detailed information and the application form embossed with raised letters” at our stand.

 

5. THE CONTRIBUTION OF OPTIK GAZETE (THE OPTICAL INDUSTRY DIGITAL NEWS PORTAL) TO THE PROMOTION OF CONTACT LENSES

  • Optik Gazete  (Optical Industry Digital News Portal) , which is the most read digital portal  in Turkey, has been conducting several special activities for contact lenses

    • Any kind of news on contact lenses is published by first hand and with priority.

    • Optik Gazete has held many competitions yearly. The first one of these competitions is directly relevant to the contact lenses whereas the others are indirectly relevant to contact lenses, and each containing an expression or narration of contact lenses. Gifts of high value including cars were presented to the winners.    Videos shot during these competitions took an important place in the promotion of contact lenses   

      • 2014 –Video Competition with the theme “I love my contact lenses”

      • 2015 –My Contact Lenses and My Glasses are my  Indispensables  

      • 2016 – Video Competition with the theme “The Reflections from the Camera Lens”

      • 2017 –Memory Writing Competition with the Theme “ Favorite Memories”

      • 2018 –Photography Competition2018 with the theme “The Most Beautiful Shop Window”

    • Optik Gazete, which is very active on social media, publishes posts frequently on social media in particular on Facebook and Instagram. 

      • Services from the Onedio site were received within the scope of the Memory Writing Competition with the Theme “Favorite Memories” and humor scripts with the theme “11 Ways of Driving an Optician Mad” were featured on social media and awareness was raised through this amazing humor spreading around social media platforms. 

6. PRODUCT RANGE AND DIVERSITY AND PRODUCT AVAILABILITY OF CIHAN MEDIKAL

  • Cihan Medikal, the representative of Elegance brand contact lenses since 2004, has been developing products taking into consideration the comfort, hygiene and needs of users.  

  • Elegance contact lenses, which are diversified, based on the needs and preferences of different users have a wide range of diopter and a product line with a wide variety of colors, which are lacking in most brands.   

  • Elegance has made high-cylindrical power contact lenses available to users    

  • Elegance holds in its product range also the products which are hard to find such as colored toric lenses. 

  • Elegance contact lenses, as high quality products, are products that offer affordable price opportunity to users, but in the same breath that yield a profit for the optical stores.       

  • For many years, Cihan Medikal has marked the prices and displayed them prominently on the product boxes to ensure that users have confidence and trust the products and optical stores.  

  • Elegance brand contact lens solutions were distributed through campaigns with the purpose to support the sales of contact lens.  While ample use of these European made high quality contact lens solutions reasonably priced has specifically impacted the eye health in a positive way on the one hand, and has also stimulated acceleration of contact lens sales in a considerable manner.          

  • ELEGANCE BRAND CONTACT LENSES ARE NEVER SOLD ON THE INTERNET  FOR SURE.

 

Subject II:
OUR FIGHT AGAINST ILLEGAL CONTACT LENS SELLING SITES ON THE INTERNET :
“MAY BE WE COULDN’T HAVE DEACTIVATED THEM COMPLETELY, HOWEVER WE MANAGED TO RESTRAIN THEM FROM SELLING ON THE INTERNET, WHICH IN RETURN LEAD TO A DRASTIC DROP IN SALES!”    

 

In 2004, by virtue of the “Law on Opticianry” No 5193, the authority to sell contact lenses has been granted to optical stores.  There is no legal ground for contact lens sales on the internet.  However, based on the non-deterrence nature of the fines and penalties and in consequence of the problems in the enforcement of the laws, internet sites, which still continues to sell contact lenses on the internet - although only in a limited number-   prevent local optical stores from making profits while capturing an unfair market share, and more importantly discredit the reputation of optical stores due to non-equilibrium prices resulting from the unfair competition making them think that optical stores are selling the products at expensive prices.

  

Above all, these illegal internet sites pose a serious threat to the eye health of individuals and society bearing the risks of buying counterfeit, smuggled, contraband, obsolete and expired products.   

Our efforts and activities mentioned above in detail under the heading “Our Contributions to the Development of the Contact Lens Market in Turkey” made a considerable contribution to the prevention of losses suffered by local optical stores due to illegal contact lens sales on the internet. We will not further address and discuss these issues in this section, but we will explain how we focused our efforts on these challenges and mention our fight against these issues.

        

If the significant achievements gained as a result of the efforts, explained in detail could have not obtained, then today the share of contact lens sales over the internet would have inevitably reached 70% rather than 20%. All efforts made by Opak Lens, our other companies and myself in person with regard to optical industry have provided a substantial blockage to the sales of contact lenses by illegal internet sites on the internet in favor of the local independent optical stores.

1. LARGE SCALE AND MOST WIDELY KNOWN SHOPPING INTERNET SITES HAVE BEEN PREVENTED FROM SELLING CONTACT LENSES ON THE INTERNET 

  • Contact lens sales made through large scale, most-known and widely used internet shopping websites such as Gitti Gidiyor, Sahibinden.com, and n11.com were prevented with official warnings and cease and desist orders served upon the aforementioned websites by our company lawyer. The aforementioned websites discontinued to sell contact lenses on the internet after receipt of these official warnings and, cease and desist orders explaining that the sale of contact lenses on the internet is not lawful pursuant to the existing laws.   

  • Large internet shopping websites are being monitored continuously.   During this monitoring if an illegal transaction is detected  then warning letters are given and all required procedures are followed to prevent the relevant website from performing illegal transactions, or otherwise to deactivate it.  

 

2. A LARGE NUMBER OF WEBSITES WHICH WERE ILLEGALLY SELLING CONTACT LENSES ON THE INTERNET WERE CLOSED DOWN THROUGH LEGAL  PROCEEDINGS  

  • The companies which were selling contact lenses on the internet were searched and complaints were filed with the Ministry of Health against each of these companies and the outcomes of complaints were closely followed up. 

  • Petitions were prepared and filed with the Ministry of Transport with the request to close down internet shopping sites which continue to carry out contact lens sales on the internet despite being illegal.   

  • Thereby, a lot of internet shopping sites either discontinue selling contact lenses on the internet understanding that it would be no legal to sell contact lenses on the internet, or otherwise were closed down through legal action.

  • Lawsuits were filed against companies which have not closed down their shopping sites and insisted on continuing to sell contact lenses on the internet, more importantly there are internet shopping sites against which legal process is still ongoing or underway.  

 

3. OTHER WAYS OF FIGHTING AGAINST THE INTERNET SHOPPING SITES WHICH INSISTED ON CONTINUING TO SELL CONTACT LENSES ILLEGALLY ON THE INTERNET

  • Lawsuits were filed against companies which have not closed down their shopping sites and insisted on continuing to sell contact lenses on the internet, more importantly there are internet shopping sites against which legal process is still ongoing or underway.

  • Non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) were briefed in detail about the situation and related matters. They have been called for cooperation.   Several sponsorships were provided to NGOs to encourage them to take an active part in this fight against the internet shopping sites which insisted on continuing to sell contact lenses on the internet. We have taken serious initiatives in this matter to have the Ministry of Health recognize these NGOs and allow them to participate in meetings held. 

  • We have used our reasonable best efforts to raise public awareness on this matter through public service announcements and special coverage or news flashes during main news bulletins in the mainstream news channels. (These efforts are explained in a detailed manner under the heading “Our Contributions to the Development of the Contact Lens Market in Turkey” Subject I, Article 4 in detail).   

  • Articles, press releases, news and reports were published on the online Optik Gazete (Optical Digital News Portal) to promote the industry and local independent optical stores and address the problems faced by the industry (These efforts are explained in a detailed manner under the heading “Our Contributions to the Development of the Contact Lens Market in Turkey”  Subject I, Article 4 ).

  • Detailed meetings were held with the managers and other authorized personnel of the Turkey Medicines and Medical Devices Institution of the Ministry of Health and the managers and other authorized personnel of the said Institution were made to understand the severity of the situation and related problems.

 

4. PRODUCTS WERE NOT SUPPLIED TO COMPANIES THAT SELL CONTACT LENSES ON THE INTERNET

  • Opak Lens has never supplied products to the companies which actually are optical stores but those that are detected to sell contact lenses on the internet.  The term product as used herein does not only include the Elegance brand products which, as a matter of fact, are not sold on the internet but also the inventory of all brands of lenses stored in Opak Lens’s warehouses.  

 

5. THE MARCH FROM İSTANBUL TO ANKARA TO PROTEST CONTACT LENS SALES ON THE INTERNET WITH THE SLOGAN “SAY NO TO CONTACT LENS SALES ON THE INTERNET”  

  • In 2018, I carried out a protest march from İstanbul to Ankara for the purpose of raising public awareness for the prevention of illegal contact sales on the internet and drawing attention of the Ministry of Health to this problem.    

  • On Monday, the 21st May, 2018 I set out from İstanbul and covered a distance of 450 km.  Along the way as I walked from İstanbul to Ankara,  public awareness was raised through the news broadcasted on national and local TV channels and radio as well as  news published in national and local papers. 

  • Furthermore, during this protest march, Opak Lens team visited 6560 optical stores and collected 7406 signatures from our industry members.

  • At the end of my protest march on 1st of June ,the Optical Stores and Opticians Day, after delivering a brief speech to the members of the industry who met  in front of  the Ministry of Health, I gave the 7406 signatures, that were gathered from the members of the industry  during my protest march, to the Deputy Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health, and repeated to him our industry’s demand for enforcement  of the relevant applicable law and closing down the internet shopping sites that continue to illegally sell contact lenses on the internet.  I finally got a promise out of him for the resolution of the issue, which has been lingering for long while, in the context of the draft law.  Afterwards, I came into the presence of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and paid my respects and laid a wreath on his mausoleum and read the lines that I wrote in the private guest book to the members of the industry.    Subsequently, I took the floor and gave a speech in the memorial ceremony organized in the Ankara Chamber of Commerce for 1st of June, the Optical Stores and Opticians Day,  and received the plaques given to me by the professional organizations  in honor my protest march.   

  • The impressions, emotions, feelings and experiences that I had during this protest march,  my notes, my writings put down on paper during this protest march, photography, videos, all the news on the print media and news broadcasted on TV channels are compiled and available at www.korsanlenssatisinahayir.com.     

  • This personal effort of mine which stands out as a sole example in our industry and that sets an unprecedented example as the protest march of a business man is an exact indicator of my passion and devotion to my business and profession and my faith in my country.

 

Subject III:
OUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE OPHTHALMIC GLASS LENS MARKET IN TURKEY  

 

At the end of 2015, after providing services only in the field of contact lenses for a period of 11 years, we decided to break into the ophthalmic lenses market.   A key driver for our reason was the fact that the foreign capital started to gain strength in our country, in particular in supply of ophthalmic lenses. The acquisition of the investments of many local manufacturers by gigantic corporations with foreign capital, which would be a competitor to retail optical stores in the future, was a clear indication that the industry was facing the risk of gradually increasing monopolization.  We designed and developed a strategic roadmap considering that it is the time to take an action on this matter and stepped in the field of ophthalmic lenses business.

Our driving goal was to provide advantages also in the field ophthalmic lenses similar to those advantages that we have brought to the local independent optical stores and thereby to block or at least mitigate the formation of a monopoly with foreign capital.   

We, while entering and offering first products to the industry as an experienced wholesaler and distributor, targeted to supply for local optical stores   ophthalmic glass lenses with “A +” in quality at a very competitive and affordable price. At those days, we sold stock ophthalmic lenses, which were sold at a very high price, at a very low price such as one fifth of the current price and thereby we provide a considerable advantage to optical stores and end users.  And thereafter, we placed a special emphasis on our development on this field and have moved in a position to be able to hinder the development of global enterprises in a very short period of time such as three and a half years.    At the present time, we have moved in a unique position to introduce many innovations to Turkey and more importantly we are continuing to introduce innovations that address the current challenges of modern life.    

 

They say us “you are a contact lens company, and ophthalmic lens is not a part of your business”.  Absolutely yes, and without any doubt, as Opak Lens, we stepped into trading business with contact lenses. However, later on we entered stock ophthalmic lens market with the broadest range and largest amount of inventory.  We have been very successful in ophthalmic lens business in which we stepped in 2016 and we have grown to become the largest ophthalmic lens company in Turkey.  Moreover, in November 2017 we began to work in cooperation with Akay Optik, which is one of the oldest and experienced companies in the industry, and entered into contract manufacturing business with Akay Optik.   After listening to positive and satisfactory comments by optical stores we reached a mutual agreement with Akay Optik in November 2018, and as a result  of this mutual agreement Opak Lens made the acquisition of Akay Optik.     

Now let’s look into what we have done in the field of ophthalmic lenses in the recent 3.5years. What are the advantages that local independent optical stores can gain as a result of our efforts and activities? 

  

1. WE, AS OPAK LENS, ARE THE SOLE TURKISH COMPANY ON SUCH A SCALE AND QUALITY THAT CAN RESPOND 90 % OF THE OPTICAL STORES’ NEEDS AND REQUIREMENTS BOTH IN THE FIELD OF CONTACT LENSES AND OPHTHALMIC LENSES

  • We have the largest network of branch offices/warehouses with our 47 branch offices/warehouses in 33 cities in Turkey.  Our closest competitor has failed to reach even one half of the number branch offices /warehouses. 

  • We have the widest diopter range and extensive range of products in stock ophthalmic lenses. 

  • We offer to optical stores the widest variety of choices in stock products.

  • We have products with the latest technologies in our product range.

  • We have technology and products in our product range that other companies do not have.

  • We are the wholesaler and distributor of ophthalmic lenses providing the fastest delivery of ophthalmic lenses to optical stores all over Turkey.  

  • We are the sole company in Turkey which keeps unique products such as full protection sun glasses.

  • We are a company that fully and deservedly provides its customers with satisfaction.  

 

2.WE ARE ALSO A LENS MANUFACTURER BY VIRTUE OF MERGER WITH AKAY OPTIK  

  • We are making domestic freeform lens production in Akay Optik’s RX Laboratory.  

  • We are a manufacturer company which has a wide variety of mirrors, more than 30 and we do not import these mirrors from China, but manufacture them in our factory.

  • We use FDA approved dyes for coloring instead of fabric or button dyes. Our color combination is unlimited for plain or solid color, or gradient products.

  • All lenses, such as 1.74-1.53- 1.67,   which are very difficult to  color can be colored in an effective manner in our manufacturing plant     

  • We have a large and experienced team with an average of 15 years of experience. 

  • We ensure fast  delivery of anti-reflective coated  lenses for  which orders are placed until 01:00 PM, by shipping  them the following day by  overnight courier service  or cargo (except coloring and mirror coating).   

  • Apart from the wide variety of organic lenses we also have a wide product range for mineral glasses.  

  • We use state-of-the-art technology production equipment and widely accepted software programs.

  • We can manufacture a wide range of diopters from +26 powers to -30 powers .

  • We have a very wide product range both in multifocal lenses and single focal lenses.   

  • We are one of the companies offering the most competitive and affordable price in the market.

  • WE ARE A COMPANY WITH HUNDRED PERCENT (100%) DOMESTIC CAPITAL. 

3-PRICE –QUALITY – PERFORMANCE

  • Our basic principle of pricing is to offer the highest quality product at the most affordable price as much as possible and by delivering with the best service.   

    • The starting point of this principle is the approach of strengthening local independent optical stores against monopolization of global chain stores.

    • Unfortunately, the price competition appears to be the only way in our home country to compete with foreign capital chain stores, and this is the main reason of why we offer our products at a comparatively low price.  Due to this reason, we are left with no choice but to offer the same product at a much lower price and to work with low profit margins.

    • Shifting away of the local independent optical stores from the misconception that the “low price means poor quality” or “cheap price equates cheap quality” without being duped and/or misled by global chain stores and better knowing our products will bring benefits to them. Product knowledge is essential and it cannot be gained only by obtaining information about the product(s) but by buying and trying the product(s).     

  • In custom production, we buy raw materials from the same companies or sources as the branded companies do.

  • Manufacturing of some of our products in China does not necessarily mean that they are of poor quality.

    • These products are manufactured using raw materials and chemicals supplied from European countries and United States of America with the latest technology machinery and equipment made in European countries and in particular in Germany using Chinese labor.

    • These products are manufactured in production facilities and production plants in China which are specifically selected by us and that can meet the quality standards set by us, applying double quality control during each production stage, and those produce products for largest brands in the European and United States of America markets.     

    • As a matter of fact, all large lens manufacturing companies in the world that comes to minds manufacture their stock lens productions in China as we do.  More importantly, lenses of large European brands which are sold in our country are also manufactured in China and imported from that country. 

    • On the other hand, as regards to custom production lenses and specialty lenses; 

      • We manufacture at the production facilities of Akay Optik using raw materials supplied from companies operating in the United States of America, Europe and Korea. As for raw materials purchased and supplied from China, they are the glasses which are produced in China for European or United States of America based companies.

  • We never make a compromise on our choice of using A + quality lenses for both custom production lenses and stock lenses.  

 

4-OUR BEING “MOST”, “ONLY” AND “FIRST” THAT WILL PUT LOCAL İNDEPENDENT OPTICAL STORES AHEAD OF THEIR COMPETITORS…

  • We are the FIRST company in the Turkish optical industry to introduce and put on the market the lenses produced using the Blue Light Technology under the brand “Frequency BlueCut”.  At the present time, we have 7 different ophthalmic lenses in the Frequency BlueCut family that are produced with this technology. And our glasses produced with the Blue Light Technology are the glasses in the marketplace that offer the HIGHEST level of protection against blue light.  

  • We are the FIRST company that has brought to Turkey the Carbon Surface Technology which is one of the LATEST coating technologies in the world and that is used on the surface of smart mobile phones and currently we are the ONLY company that has this product.

  • The MOST resistant ophthalmic lens against scratches is included in our product portfolio under the umbrella of Biomedix Crystal family.  

  • The ONLY ophthalmic sun glasses to be offered by optical stores to patients within prescription lenses such as age-related-macular disease and cataract are included in our product portfolio under brands  GPPlus ColorBlue, GPPlus ColorVex.   

  • We brought stock multifocal lenses and thereby allowed end users to buy these products easily and quickly at affordable prices as much as possible.     

  • We are the ONLY company that keeps Sun lenses in its inventory in sphero cylindrical form, for which there is no company holding them in its inventory.  As our high quality requirement, if we have a complaint with one lens we change the lenses as pairs for color consistency.

  • Sun lenses with sphero cylindrical lens series, with an advantage of an 80 mm diameter of the concave surface are available in our stocks. When considering most sunglasses have large frames in the last decade, even RX lenses will not be manufactured for frames with a diameter of 75 mm or greater. We provide solid solutions where optical stores have been losing customers.  We are the ONLY company that understands and responds to the needs and requirements of optical stores acting with due skill, care and diligence of a large ophthalmic lens supplier.

 

5-WE DRAW ATTENTION TO THE TRAP OF “BRANDING IN LENSES” INTO WHICH LOCAL INDEPENDENT OPTICAL STORES SHOULDN’T FALL 

  • The branding issue in ophthalmic lenses poses an increasingly severe risk with each passing day. In this regard, as Opak Lens, we do the best of our ability, warn local independent optical stores which we work together. We write articles in the Optik Gazete (Optical Digital News Portal). 

  • The matters and issues on which local independent optical stores must be at maximum alert are as follows:

    • To try to promote the brands of the foreign gigantic corporations which most likely will be a competitor to your optical store in the future would not bring you any benefit, and on the contrary will cause your  optical store suffer losses in the long-term.  As for ophthalmic lenses, instead of promoting to end users brands of which they have neither heard nor been aware, try to guide them to the products of local suppliers which are designed and developed based on the needs assessments and to those that are serviceable and offered at affordable prices.  And lend your assistance to help them use the ophthalmic lenses manufactured with the latest technology in the world.

    • In fact, there is no difference in terms of quality between the lenses that are defined and promoted as brands and the lenses manufactured by us. In brief, you are not only buying it by paying a lot of more money but also lead to outflow of capital instead of stimulating the domestic economy and keeping the domestic business environment attractive.  

    • What really matters is not the name but the object bearing the name.
      You need to compare the products, not the brands.
      You have to know, try and compare products, and always prefer the DOMESTIC product between two products at the same quality.

    • Assuming that customers make their buying decisions by being influenced by their brand dependency during buying ophthalmic lenses is not a true assumption.   This assumption which is not true is nothing more than a myth created by global suppliers to have local optical stores sell their products.     

      • Ophthalmic lenses category in the optical industry is one of the rare categories in which end consumers do not recollect a particular brand or some certain brands during their purchase decision making process.   

      • The number of users who pronounce or recall a particular brand is far below 5 %.

      • Therefore, in the present case the true and correct assumption is as follows :
        Brand is created by Optical stores /Opticians

.    

Subject IV:
OUR EFFORTS AND ACTIVITIES INTENDED FOR GROWTH OF MARKET SHARE OF LOCAL INDEPENDENT OPTICAL STORES IN THE OPTICAL INDUSTRY IN TURKEY   

 

Our field of study in this market is the local part of the industry.  We only work with local independent optical stores and only trade with these organizations.   As a matter of course, we direct all of our power towards the development of local independent optical stores.  Of course, the commercial aspect of the business requires us to adopt this approach.  However, for us there is also an idealist aspect of this business stemming from the spirit of being domestic and national.

We made investment in and acquire Akay Optik, which is one of the leading RX Laboratory in Turkey.  In a period where majority of the industry members and participants were disposing of their investments to convert them into cash we preferred to take a serious risk.   We don’t ignore or disregard our strategic initiatives and efforts for the development of trade, but concomitantly we also feel the well-deserved pride of being domestic and national. 

 

On the other hand, regardless of the reason, whether it is trading or ideal of being domestic and national our principle is WIN- AND MAKE WIN. And for a period of 15 years, we enjoy the well- deserved pride of converting our earnings into investments and make local independent optical stores win while winning and ensure to grow altogether in the domestic part of the industry.

If the need arises to list what we have done so far to fulfill this principle and to achieve these targets we can say that everything that is written under the following headings:  

  • Subject 1: Our Contributions to the Development of the Contact Lens Market in Turkey

  • Subject 2: Our Fight against Illegal Contact Lens Sites on the Internet 

  • Subject 3: Our Contributions to the Ophthalmic Glass Lens Market in Turkey

 

In addition to all the foregoing, we know the importance to act and move together in concert to have local independent optical stores to become powerful and increase their market share in the industry. In this sense, we have done a lot of work, including but not limited to the following: 

1-OUR LOBBYING ACTIVITIES IN THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH 

  • Since the very establishment of our company we have personally taken an active part in all matters and issues relevant to our industry. We have always complied with the regulation issued under the “Law on OpticianryNo 5193 due to our corporate values and respect for the laws governing our operations as well our respect for our business and our people. We have always warned those who acted contrary to the laws, and have taken legal actions and pursued legal proceedings against those who insist on continuing violation despite being warned repeatedly.      

  • We have always monitored developments relevant to our business and industry, whether locally or internationally.  Above all, we are in the health business. In this sense, as I say on every occasion that for us the health of society and individuals at all times takes priority over business. At this point, at all times when we consider that there are still some issues to be resolved and points to be developed we have gotten contact with the Turkey Medicines and Medical Devices Institution of the Ministry of Health and the managers and other authorized personnel of the said Institution and we have provided them with all necessary information about the relevant matter and delivered our opinion on the subject.  In these activities we have always taken into account the two priorities, namely the health of society and individuals and providing advantages to local independent optical stores, and have always acted accordingly. I am more than happy to say that new regulations were introduced and amendments to various legislative provisions were made by virtue of our solution proposals developed based on the feedbacks from local independent optical stores and needs and requirements assessments undertaken with the members of the industry.     

 

2-TO GIVE SUPPORT TO NGOs and COOPERATIVES  

  • We, as Opak Lens, in all seminars we organized and in all of our visits have always emphasized that the only way in order to stand strong against gigantic corporations with global capital is to collaborate and join hands to help each other for mutual benefit.  

    • In this context we have always strongly recommended to local independent optical stores to act in concert and harmony with Non-Governmental Organizations for long years and to become a member to associations and professional societies operating in their regions and  all over Turkey and to participate actively in meetings.   

    • We always placed a special emphasis on the importance of forming cooperatives and explain that cooperatives are non-profit systems composed of partners who perform work for the benefit of themselves.    

  • We have provided financial sponsorship support to a great many of associations and cooperatives over the course of many years. Additionally, we have offered substantial monetary and moral support them to introduce them to the industry and promote them to a stronger position. We always supported them to attend meetings held at the Ministry of Health.  We have also supported some of them to provide them with the chance to actively take part in digital workshops and seminars.   

    • We have continued to support these NGOs and cooperatives aiming to have them bring domestic producers and local brand representatives to the forefront, but subsequently we decided to cease to give support to NGOs and cooperatives when we understood that unfortunately managers of some NGOs and cooperatives have always given priority to their personal gains.  

    • Of course, there are many reliable persons and industry members under these structures.  But unfortunately, misbehavior and misconduct by some managers or members cause harm to the reputation of these organizations and lead to loss of confidence for these organizations.   

    • In this context, it is of paramount importance for independent optical stores to be very cautious on this matter and to effectively monitor and control the activities of NGOs and to understand and notice today that the media which has become the most common platform and/or sales area of foreign product suppliers will not serve for the benefits of them but for the companies which will become a competitor to them in the long term.

3-CONSULTANCY HOTLINE 

  • Opak Lens Consultancy (Union of Forces -Güç Birliği) Hotline has been activated as from 2018 October. Local independent optical stores may report to this hotline any and all issues that they identified or encountered in their region or other issues relevant to the industry or profession. Opak Lens Consultancy Hotline offers legal assessment services.  Consultants working for Opak Lens Consultancy Hotline give advice to persons, who call or reach out to the Hotline for help or advice, about the procedures to be followed and explain them the steps that need to be taken and stand by their side throughout this process and give support as needed.

  • Managers and specialist employees from various departments of the company take active roles in the task force which supports this hotline. This task force consists of 12 persons among whom there are specialists with professional titles such as lawyer, financial advisor and optician as well as other specialist professionals  who are licensed and/or certified in their own fields, and their job definitions include but not limited to the following set of qualifying attributes, namely to monitor, understand and analyze industrial dynamics, to carry out applications introduced by the regulations issued by the Ministry of Health, to organize all activities to be carried out and work to be undertaken within the scope of the Product Tracking System, to handle customer complaints, to closely keep up with financial regulations, to follow up and review industrial developments and complaints on the social media, and,  to identify, review and work on legal issues and problems.       

  •  Opak Lens Consultancy Hotline provides consultancy services to local independent optical stores with regard to all issues relevant to the optical industry except personal issues and matters.

  • The issues that fall into the area of interest of Opak Lens Consultancy Hotline are as follows: 

    • Activities carried out by global chain stores that are contrary to the Advertising and Promotion Regulations;  

    • Advertising and promotional materials to advertise and promote lasik eye and vision surgery, which is commonly referred to as laser eye surgery or laser vision correction, those that are designed, developed and prepared in a false and slanderous and defamatory manner for the purpose of discrediting eyeglasses and contact lens and those that are contrary to the Advertising and Promotion Regulations;      

    • Eyeglasses, reading glasses  sold by street vendors;

    • Contact lens sales on the internet or by hospitals or ophthalmologists despite not being legal.  In cases where it is determined that the entity behind the shopping  sites selling contact lenses on the internet is an optical store, the penalty is imposed on the responsible manager  or managing director pursuant to the applicable legislation and regulations of the Ministry of Health.  In the past,  some certain events were witnessed where graduates of the opticianry program were recruited for this purpose exclusively and were condemned to penalties amounting to ban from profession and thus being victimized;     

    • Detection or suspicion of counterfeit  products

    • Unjust expulsion from Non-Governmental Organizations and cooperatives;  

    • Defamed and/or discredited optical stores by being trapped;

    • Remarks or comments by officers working for the Ministry of Health, in particular by those who conduct audits and reviews putting us- optician stores and opticians -down or to further trouble or insulting, mocking or belittling, thus victimizing   

    • Presence of officers, directors, managers  or employees of public organizations or Non-Governmental Organizations    who want to obtain unfair gains or advantages from the activities and operations of optical stores engaging in improper practices   by using or capitalizing  their official powers and authority for their own benefits or solicitation by officers, directors, managers  or employees of public organizations or Non-Governmental Organizations  of gifts, benefits, money or favors 

    • Problems faced relating to products in systems such as Product Tracking System   

    • Any matter contrary to the regulations issued under the “Law on Opticianry”  

  • In addition to all the foregoing, social media screening is performed regularly by Opak Lens’s officers and illegal advertising and promotional activities and customer complaints websites are continuously monitored.   These complaints are often relevant to illegal online contact lens sales on the internet and from time to time to products. On the other hand, negativities, challenges and problems faced by optical stores can be brought to the attention of the members and stakeholders of the industry only if repeated several times and during the time elapsed between the date on which any such negativity or problem occurs or begins until the date on which it comes to the attention of the members and stakeholders of the industry, a lot of optical stores suffer considerable losses.  On the other hand, to promptly respond to any such negativity or problem at the moment when it occurs would contribute to prevent optical stores to suffer losses. In this sense, Consultancy Hotline provides opportunities for the safe and sound growth of our industry within the framework of the relevant applicable laws.   

 

4-SUPPORT SURVEY FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF TURKISH ASSOCIATION AND CHAMBER OF OPTICIANS 

  • At the present time, the establishment of the Turkish Association and Chamber of Opticians has the most important place on our agenda and we believe that every optical store and optician must personally be interested in this matter and use their all reasonable endeavors to make contribution to this process.  The Chamber and Association which are planned to be established must have a structure that will be able to maintain the current structure of the optical industry and to represent all segments of the industry and to support the progressive development of the industry placing a special emphasis to the strengthening and growth of local enterprises in the industry for the benefit of our country, people and industry. We have always lent our support to the efforts and activities aimed at the establishment of the structure of the Turkish Association and Chamber of Opticians conformity with this definition.  

  • In line with the activities of the Interim Management of the Association and Chamber, we conducted a comprehensive survey study to figure out expectations of optical store owners and opticians who will cast vote in the elections to be held in the Chamber and Association using the platform of the Optik Gazete for announcing the survey. We devoted all of Opak Lens’s field team members to the survey study, and asked industry members to complete the survey questionnaires and return them after signing and nominating their own candidates. We announced the outcomes of the survey study in the Optik Gazete in a transparent manner.  With this survey, we shed light to allow the process conducted in a democratic manner.

  •  Here is the list of the activities which come to mind for those who ask us what we have done so far (of course there may be some activities which we have forgotten to include in this list).   Had we done all of these by ourselves?  Of course not, we have done them with the support of local independent optical stores. If you wouldn’t have embraced us as we are, and if you wouldn’t have traded with us and bought from us noticing what we are trying to do, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to proceed and to do these things. I would like to use this occasion to extend my thanks and appreciation to you as I always do on every occasion. Thank you and remain safe.

 

Kind Regards,

H. Erol Harbi

Chairman of the Board of Directors,
Opak Lens A.Ş.

© 2018 Opak Lens Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş.