Wearing glasses is a serious matter. It requires a prescription following a medical appointment in due form. It therefore requires the intervention of an optician and a series of visual tests adapted to each situation. But … In recent years, a business emerged aiming at selling eyeglasses outside opticians’ spaces, and it is gaining ground in small shops and even on sidewalks.
What is happening? To better understand the situation, Anis Fekih, president of the Opticians-Optometrists national union highlights, among other things, the strategic axes of the sector. Interview:
What is the number of opticians (graduates) in Tunisia?
There are 600 opticians, 30% in Tunis and 120 opticians in Sfax and the rest are installed between Gabès and Sousse.
With a turnover of 30 million dinars, the optometry sector in Tunisia is making progress in a remarkable way.
The graduation is provided by schools including Sfax Health technical higher School (ESTSS) and another private school. The diploma is recognized throughout Europe
Are there also opticians operating illegally?
No, but it is important to note that the last tolerated group was in 2005. We settled 52 cases. Moreover, I chaired the recycling of these people.
Do you suffer from unfair competition of the parallel market?
The aggressive marketing has reached the sector as evidenced by communication campaigns on sunglasses launched by major brands. Then, we observe a luxury shops carefully arranged and the emergence of new multi-shops brands in major cities.
Prices are soaring and counterfeiting took hold of the market. This relates to eyeglasses and more serious, to glasses and contact lenses.
We can say, generally, that the parallel market has affected all sectors. It is an international problem; therefore, efforts should intensify.
We got in touch with the supervisory ministry to manage the situation. The objective is to have a grant for launching a campaign aiming at drawing citizens’ attention on adverse effects of glasses sold somehow. This grant is important, since the union s unable to run alone such campaigns.
On another level, the union has launched an appealing offer to the opticians to help needy families. With a purchase voucher of 70d, each Tunisian can buy frames + glasses. This is part of the commitment of the union to better combat the parallel market.
Are there other problems that hinder the development of the optician business?
There is the example of the existence of intruders in this business. There are professionals who rent their diplomas for unemployed youth. It is a dangerous matter that should be overcome to improve the sector.
Competition between opticians themselves is also an obstacle, not to mention especially the absence of specifications which regulate the profession. We can do nothing without these specifications which can boost positively the business.
Tunisia has a competitive ground that can ensure the best positioning locally and regionally, as evidenced by the formal invitation received from French schools located in Paris and Marseille for reproducing Tunisian model. The same case for Algerians.
Foreigners who came to Tunisia were pleasantly surprised and satisfied. They made good deals and they plan to get back.
This is an asset for us to move forward and achieve performance knowing that our immaterial economy is currently moving to new programs and innovative businesses.