Established in 1917, the optical trade body has become a respected forum for the UK optical industry
Federation of Manufacturing Opticians (FMO) has worked closely with government departments and also represents optical companies that are involved in all aspects of manufacturing, importing and wholesaling of spectacles. It supports its members and keeps them abreast of legislative changes both within the UK and internationally.
And now, the FMO is reaching out to new members who may not have considered joining the UK optical trade body, to gain the benefits of networking, free legal advice, professional guidance, access to the licenced Bad Payers’ List and much more. Another key benefit to take into account is the exhibitors’ discount for Optrafair, FMO’s flagship show.
The means of providing some 21 million eye examinations in the UK each year – many with advanced optical diagnostics – could not happen without the technology provided by FMO members. The production and supply of bespoke lenses, sunglasses, sports eyewear and a host of health supplements and accessories together provide the fuel for a £2.8billion industry and the FMO is integral to oiling the wheels on the business of optics. It is also the voice of suppliers and manufacturers within The Optical Confederation.
The diverse membership of companies, which range in turnovers from a few thousand pounds each year to multi-million pound operations, stretch from Cornwall to Scotland and across the breadth of the country. Despite great competition these companies are brought together by the FMO with a gentlemanly approach to business, and a camaraderie, which is still the envy of many other sectors.
Barry Dibble – FMO Chairman says, “We are valued for the breadth of advice and information which is available to the frame, lens and equipment groups, but we also support the IT providers, shopfitters, finance houses, management companies and optical educators. Our Paddington head office and regional meetings are a time for our Management Board to come together to seek out ways of supporting the profession and industry partners.”
Overseas member, Frederic Lefranc, PPG Industries’ Director of Sales, EMA and Pacific, believes the unity provided by the FMO is a vital strength of the UK optical sector. He says, “The FMO is a great asset to the industry – very few countries have such a professional organisation. It is a very good platform to create unity and give direction. We are made very welcome as overseas members and it is a great way to integrate into the country market. In the UK you have unity which is a great strength to business. We see a great pride in being a part of the FMO and we don’t see this so often elsewhere in Europe. The AGM luncheon is a great event and a terrific coming together of the industry.”
Mike Kirkley – Essilor UK Managing Director agreed saying, “The FMO is very useful body to give guidance to all manufactures regardless of size. It is an informative and adventurous group always looking for opportunities to enhance the opportunities for its members.”
Education and Insight
For many, the regional national meetings are as valuable as the link with spectacle makers to promote optical training. Graham Coates, Managing Director of Coates Optical, praised a recent lecture by the FMO which provided an overview of the current UK optical landscape and how it differs from overseas markets – “These lectures are extremely useful and are like gold dust to a small business like mine. It provided an amazing amount of information about the multiples’ and independents’ share of the market and that really helps us with our planning.”
The sharing of information was also a factor that prompted new member Optimum Coatings of Morecambe to join. Sales Director, Mark Marland explained, “The FMO is a must for any business involved in our market: great training courses available to staff at all levels, regular newsletters with the latest industry information and a strong network of companies supporting each other. The meetings, held at different locations, are a good way to catch up with customers and suppliers alike, if you are not a member you’re missing out, the FMO really is the voice of the optical industry.”
Optrafair and Trade Shows
The open discussion forum is essential to planning the flagship FMO optical trade show, Optrafair, which has led the field for more than 30 years, and which now alternates between London and Birmingham.
Hanson Instruments Sales Director, Wayne Coleman reflected the views of many by saying, “One of the great benefits of The FMO meetings is the chance to bounce ideas around, particularly for us on the instrument supply side. Discussing the dates and timing of trade shows is important. It is good to have feedback from the other companies to find out what benefits us all. As a body we have great clout with any issues that need tackling.”
According to Phil Mullins – Group Director of Business Development , Optinet and National Eyecare, “For many people The FMO is just seen as the organisers of Optrafair. However as a member we feel it’s an integral part of us doing business in optics. It is a group where competitors from all divisions of the industry come together to support each other and to work to improve and develop the whole industry. Add to this the activities and benefits such as legal services, credit management and information, insurance consultation, statistics, training you have a support group like no other.”
Longstanding member, Nick Fitrzyk, Managing Director of Carleton Optical, enjoys the camaraderie and much more – “Membership brings excellent support. I particularly enjoy the regional meetings and the informative presentations from experts in and out of our field. As well as keeping us up-to-date on issues there are other advantages of being a member of The FMO, including the Optrafair discount rate which is an attractive benefit.”
Support and Assistance
With a management Board made up of representatives from optical companies, the FMO reflects the suppliers’ complete cross section. The FMO is always available for support and assistance in all optical matters. Through meetings, education and focus groups with members, the FMO enhances the optical world and creates strong links with other manufacturers and like-minded individuals. As the organisers of Optrafair, the FMO promotes and raises the profile of the optical industry.
In the words of Simon Freeman – Managing Director Snowbird Finance, “Joining The FMO has given us the opportunity to keep right up-to-date with the latest technological advances in the market and to network with those at the heart of the industry.”
So here is what members will get on registering with FMO:
- Networking with others in optics
- Learning about new industry developments and standards
- Source of business advice and technical guidance
- Provides 24/7 legal advice helpline
- Leads frame, lens and equipment focus groups
- Runs licensed Bad Payers’ List for members use
- Promotes and develops training with SMC
- Promotes industry focus within the Optical Confederation
- Leads the way with annual national optical show Optrafair
- Provides member discount for exhibitors at Optrafair
- Bespoke training courses tailored to industry needs