VisionPlus in conversation with Sharbel Abi Ephrem, Business Development Manager, MENA, Hoya Vision Care Europe
It is never late to know more about the innovations in the optical industry, coming straight from Mr Sharbel Abi Ephrem, Business Development Manager, MENA, Hoya Vision Care Europe. Mr Sharbel is an eye care professional and ophthalmic lens expert since 2000. A member of the European Academy of Optometry and Optics (EAOO). At Hoya Partner Business, he is also the professional services manager, a lecturer at Hoya Faculty, Budapest, and many other universities and schools in the MENA region. He is responsible for managing sales, marketing, product launches and technical trainings as
the Business Development Manager Partner Business,
for MENA region.
We got in touch with him to discover the latest business opportunities and developments at Hoya. Here’s what
VisionPlus Magazine (VP): To begin with, a brief insight about yourself and your journey in the optical industry? How, when and where did your association with Hoya start?
Sharbel Abi Ephrem (SE): I started my journey with the optical world 17 years back, since the time I finished my 5 years of opticianry and optometry studies. After that, I worked in different fields from clinical optometry in hospitals to sales and commerce in international companies.
With Hoya, I started as a professional services manager in 2011 and then since 2013, I am the business development manager of MENA Region.
VP: How did it come into existence? A brief overview of the company. What are its different operations?
SE: Founded in 1941 in Tokyo, Japan, HOYA is a global med-tech company and the leading supplier of innovative high-tech and medical products. HOYA is active in the fields of healthcare and information technology providing eyeglasses, medical endoscopes, intraocular lenses, optical lenses as well as key components for semiconductor devices, LCD panels and HDDs. With over 150 offices and subsidiaries worldwide, HOYA currently employs a multinational workforce of over 34,000 people.
VP: How strong is the presence of Hoya in the Middle East region? What are the challenges faced in these regions and how did you combat it?
SE: Few years back, Hoya was present in some countries in areas with local partners distributing Hoya Lenses. All through, Hoya has built a strong base and partnerships with local expertise in the market, and has been able to spread its network all over the region, thanks to its name and the reputation of its quality.
VP: How has Hoya been received by the consumer? Their experiences?
SE: Hoya focuses on the quality and services we deliver to our end users, for this we understood the importance of giving the end users a chance to experience what they buy and
even to be part of it with our personalised lenses.
The customer journey starts from the moment the end user enters the shop till the moment we deliver him the lenses. We need to emotionally engage our customers, this is what our studies have shown, through several steps in the process, each step with a different Hoya tool and Hoya Application. Starting from Eye Examination with EyeGenius device, understanding the needs with Hoya iDentifier software, choosing the best design, and then by demonstrating the benefits of the lens through HVC Viewer Application, and even giving him the chance to experience his lenses before he buys them with Hoya Vision Simulator device.
With this journey we also help our partners’ opticians to add value to what they offer and make selling easier and create more loyal customers.
VP: What are the strategies that Hoya has in place to withstand competition from other established brands and how successful have you been so far?
SE: Each company has its own philosophy and its own strategy to compete, we strongly believe in our exceptional quality and services and this made our partners and our loyal users be the pillars for our success.
VP: You are part of Hoya Partner Business, what exactly is the operation of Hoya Partner Business? Is it restricted to Middle East or does it have a presence anywhere else?
SE: Partner Business operates in countries where Hoya is a locally established company or Subsidiary is not present. ‘Partner Business’ operates in Europe, Middle East and Africa.
VP: We hear Hoya provides educational support to the optical industry. Could you elaborate on that?
SE: Hoya Faculty is the Education and Experience Centre for eye care professionals who wish to improve their refraction skills and knowledge of Hoya products, and how best to prescribe them. Since we opened our state-of-the-art facility in 2010 some 4000 eye care professionals have joined us there in Budapest, Hungary.
Opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists can enjoy in-depth training and education on Hoya products and the wider industry. Any eyecare professional can have the chance to join a general international training module or even groups from one region for a tailored training session.
VP: What is new in Hoya?
SE: Hoya has recently introduced YUNIKU the world’s first vision-centric 3D eyewear. It is a complete new vision solution that may change the way we correct vision.
YUNIKU is a 3D tailored eyewear designed entirely around your face and vision. Regular spectacles can be customised only to a certain degree. The frame and fitting are given, and the lenses have to be adjusted to suit them. YUNIKU, by contrast, uses a revolutionary vision-centric approach. It begins by assessing the visual needs and facial features. Advanced software calculates the ideal position of the lenses in relation to our eyes, and then 3D prints the frame based on those unique parameters. For the first time, wearers can enjoy ultimate experience in optical precision, without compromising on style or fit.
VP: One of your products, the EyeGenius device is the recipient of VXVP Award in Dubai. Could you explain its features. What motivated Hoya to introduce this product? How has it been received in the market? What are the challenges for this product?
SE: Hoya EyeGenius is a completely new system for full vision examination, featuring 60 vision tests and a unique Hoya method for measuring and correcting fixation disparity. Based on an interactive test procedure, it involves the customer directly, offering maximum engagement and reliability. It is the fastest solution on the market today, delivering the ideal prismatic prescription under ten minutes. No prisms are used during the measurement, which is comfortable for the customer.
Hoya EyeGenius was developed in collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, with the aim of radically simplifying the measurement and correction of fixation disparity. The system and its procedure are the result of six years of extensive research
After a successful introduction at OPTI 2016 exhibition in Munich in January and a nomination for a Silmo d’Or in September, Hoya EyeGenius was recently rewarded with the Vision-X, Vision Plus Award in the category
‘Best Value Enhancer Retail’ at Vision-X in Dubai, the largest optical fair in the Middle East and North African region.
VP: What is the vision of Hoya? Any strategies for 2017?
SE: Hoya constantly strives to create new value through innovation and creative technology for a better future and better vision. This becomes alive through new products and
Hoya is also keen to provide better service to users in the region, for this we have solid plans to expand in the region in 2017, we want to ensure that Hoya services will reach all practitioners and wearers in the Middle East as well as in the world.
VP: Lastly, you wear different hats-that of a business developer, technical trainer, faculty member, lecturer and so on… which role do you enjoy playing the most and why?
SE: Having 2 different hats was never easy for me, though I enjoy both parts, depending on the situation I am opposed to and that has enabled me to keep doing it for the last 3 years.
What I enjoy the most is the direct human relationship with the crowd as well as in person. I can translate what I believe and be accountable to what I say either through business relations and meetings or within my trainings and clinical workshops.