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Thread: A different opinion on the big merger

  1. #1
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    Redhot Jumper A different opinion on the big merger

    A different opinion on the big merger …………………………


    Get ready to pay when one company dominates the eyeglass market

    BY DAVID BALTO, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 11/28/17 02:00 PM EST 27
    THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND NOT THE VIEW OF THE HILL


    Last year Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) threw down the gauntlet in antitrust enforcement. "Today, in America, competition is dying," Warren said. "Consolidation and concentration are on the rise in sector after sector. Concentration threatens our markets, threatens our economy, and threatens our democracy."

    Today, the merger of Luxottica and Essilor threatens to create a vision care monopoly and you don’t need a corrected prescription to clearly see it will harm consumers with higher prices and less choice. The question remains: When will we be tough enough to prevent harmful consolidation?

    It’s easy to see why the merger of Essilor and Luxottica should be denied. The merger would combine the world’s largest eyewear company with the world’s largest manufacturer of optical lenses. But that is an oversimplification. The merger also involves the U.S.’s second largest vision insurance company, owned by Luxottica, and the U.S.’s largest optical retailer, composed of many companies all owned by Luxottica.

    That’s still not the whole story, the combined Essilor and Luxottica will exert control over 83 percent of optometrists through Luxottica’s EyeMed Vision Care company. EyeMed has 43 million members and is accepted at over 30,000 U.S. optometrists. Luxottica uses this vision benefits company largely to steer patients towards Luxottica’s own products.

    But wait, there’s more. Luxottica has been featured twice in the news for its ability to command high prices and bully competitors. In 2012, 60 Minutes ran a story on the false choice in eyeglass frames, explaining that most brands you see in the stores are owned by the same company. The reporter attributed sky-high prices to the lack of choices. And John Oliver ran a piece this year that explained how Luxottica used its vertical market power to pressure Oakley into selling its company after a dispute with Luxottica over pricing.

    Even the Democratic Party has signaled out this merger as being dangerous for consumers. Senate Democrats launched their A Better Dealplatform with an explicit mention of the Essilor/Luxottica merger as a merger that would “harm consumers, workers, and competition.” Their white paper points out “the current average price of eyeglasses is now at $400, a cost in line with an iPad, and is steadily rising.”

    A combined Luxottica and Essilor company would have enormous power over every stage of producing and selling eyewear. Luxottica in particular has pursued a strategy of gobbling up brands and presenting consumers with false choices. Altogether, Luxottica has nine house brands and is licensed to produce and distribute another 21 more. These brands include Ray-Ban, Oakley, Oliver Peoples, Georgio Armani, Coach, DKNY, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Versace and DKNY. Luxottica also owns over 9,000 stores, including Sunglass Hut, LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, and Target Optical.

    Things are already bad. Since Luxottica bought Ray-Ban almost 20 years ago, the average selling price has gone up, and so have Luxottica’s profit margins. The merger could only make things worse.

    Some might suggest the merger raises few concerns because it is vertical, meaning that the companies are mostly on different levels of the supply chain. Essilor makes lenses and Luxottica makes frames. In early antitrust policy there were complaints that we over-enforced against these types of mergers, and economists published evidence that vertical mergers can actually provide some benefits. This led to a massive pendulum swing, but with the DOJ’s challenge to the AT&T Time Warner merger it appears the pendulum is swinging backwards.

    All it takes is an antitrust enforcer willing to fight and good evidence, and here there is a lot of good evidence that this merger will harm consumers and competition.

    Consumers need real choice, not fake choice in the eyeglass market. Consumers also need real competition to curb the sky-high prices of eyeglasses. They will get neither of this merger is permitted to go through. We’ve already seen the E.U. get tough on this merger — they opened a full-scale investigation in September. It is now time for the U.S. to step up to the plate.

    David Balto is an antitrust attorney based in Washington, D.C.. He previously served as policy director at the Federal Trade Commission and as an attorney in the Justice Department's Antitrust Division. He is an expert in antitrust, consumer protection, financial services, intellectual property and health care competition.

    ​Source:
    http://thehill.com/opinion/healthcar...yeglass-market
    Chris Ryser
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    http://optochemicals.com............................. http://arcoatings.com

  2. #2
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    Am I in the minority by thinking that the merger will isolate Luxillor from independents? At the end of the day, despite all of their buyouts of technology and brand names, Luxillor is still radically behind the technology leaders in the market. Luxillor is going to inadvertently brand themselves as the "America's Best" of the industry. A patient with EyeMed is likely to pay only ~15% less than a cash pay patient when purchasing eyewear, and that savings is hardly worth it if you are required to buy Luxillor product. Patients will realize in the next two years that they are wasting their money and effort on the likes of Luxillor. Remember that Luxillor serves investors, not patients, so they are required to turn a profit. This means they will need to begin raising prices almost immediately, which will have a rapid effect on their bottom line.

    I say let them continue their non-sense. Eventually people on the street will say things like "Ew, you got those from Luxillor? I got mine from my local Optician and I have never seen better." Luxillor is becoming a singular brand (instead of the multitude of brands that once existed prior to acquisition). Luxillor will be but an option in the marketplace, and not a very good one, at that.

  3. #3
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    When I met with my Ray Ban rep for the initial buy in, he discussed the history of the brand. At one point, Bausch and Lomb had Ray Ban in every store they could get into, including convenience marts. He said Lux bought the brand and had made it more exclusive, and that increased the value.

    Now, it seems like Lux has reverted to the B&L and Coke aspirations... Getting the product within arms reach of everybody in the world. Is that good for the brand?

  4. #4
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    Redhot Jumper Lux bought the brand and had made it more exclusive .................................

    Quote Originally Posted by pknsbeans View Post

    When I met with my Ray Ban rep for the initial buy in, he discussed the history of the brand. At one point, Bausch and Lomb had Ray Ban in every store they could get into, including convenience marts. He said Lux bought the brand and had made it more exclusive, and that increased the value.

    Actually it was the opposite of what your Lux salesman made you believe.

    RayBan came on the market in the 1960s. I still remember the aviator sunglass was a US made top quality gold filled frame with plano surfaced
    lenses. Today it just a cheap and crappy frame
    Chris Ryser
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    http://optochemicals.com............................. http://arcoatings.com

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    Redhot Jumper

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Ryser View Post
    A different opinion on the big merger …………………………


    Get ready to pay when one company dominates the eyeglass market


    Consumers need real choice, not fake choice in the eyeglass market. Consumers also need real competition to curb the sky-high prices of eyeglasses. They will get neither of this merger is permitted to go through. We’ve already seen the E.U. get tough on this merger — they opened a full-scale investigation in September. It is now time for the U.S. to step up to the plate.

    Once the merger will be approved, in about 2 months from now, there will be a lot of changes in the optical retail within the next few years.

    Consumers will have more choices between standard optical retail pricing with service, and much lower pricing online without the service part.

    Quality most probably, will be no big issue because the company in charge, Essilor, has always been a top quality provider.

    The newly to be formed corporation will have a similar effect in the optical retail trade, as oil companies have shown in gasoline sales to the public.

    The conventional optical will have to make changes to the present selling structure, to adapt to a totally new way of doing business.
    Chris Ryser
    ________________________________________
    DLO. NA.IC.I.T.PO

    http://optochemicals.com............................. http://arcoatings.com

  6. #6
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter Barry Santini's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Ryser View Post
    Actually it was the opposite of what your Lux salesman made you believe.

    RayBan came on the market in the 1960s. I still remember the aviator sunglass was a US made top quality gold filled frame with plano surfaced
    lenses. Today it just a cheap and crappy frame
    I'd have to disagree with your appraisal of today's Ray Ban sunglass Aviator. I sell, recommend, adjust and repair these everyday. Their joints don't break, hinges don't fail, screws dont fall out and finishes dont peel, chip or tarnish.

    I untie them from literally being knotted for busy Moms with households of 3 or more children.

    I wish all RBs were as well made as the sunglass aviator.

    Just one optician's opinion.

    B

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