Novartis is planning to spin off Alcon into a separately traded stand-alone company

The split, which is subject to general market conditions, tax rulings, shareholder approval and board of directors endorsement, will allow both companies to “focus fully on their respective growth strategies,” according to a Novartis press release.

The ophthalmology pharmaceuticals business will continue to be part of Novartis, while Alcon will focus on surgical and vision care.

In addition, Novartis said it will initiate a share buyback of up to $5 billion by the end of 2019.

“Our strategic review examined all options for Alcon ranging from retention, sale, IPO to spinoff. The review concluded that a spinoff would be in the best interests of Novartis shareholders, and the board of directors intends to seek shareholder approval for a spinoff at the 2019 annual general meeting,” Novartis chairman Joerg Reinhardt said in the release.

Mike Ball will become chairman-designate of Alcon, while David Endicott will be promoted to Alcon CEO, according to the release. Both appointments will become effective on 1 July.

“This promises to be the beginning of an exciting new chapter for everyone associated with Alcon,” Mr Ball said in the release. “The planned spinoff will be key to strengthening our leadership in the large, attractive and growing global eye-care-devices market.”

If all approvals are secured, the spinoff would be completed in the first half of 2019. The company would

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By | July 1st, 2018|Business|

Amazon secures foothold in US pharmacy retailing

Amazon has announced it is buying online retail pharmaceutical retailer PillPack for an undisclosed price.

PillPack has a staff of 1,000 and is not a major player in the US pharmacy industry, bringing in about $US100 million in revenue in 2017, according to the company.

The company, which started in 2013, distributes pills in easy-to-use packages designed for consumers with chronic conditions and multiple prescriptions. It sorts prescriptions by the dose and includes a label with a picture of each pill and directions on how it should be taken.

Anxiety over what Amazon might do in health care has unsettled the industry, with the company’s interest in drugs considered a factor in a wave of recently proposed mergers, including CVS’s acquisition of Aetna and a union between the health insurer Cigna and Express Scripts, the pharmacy benefit manager.

Amazon’s entry could make it easier for some of those deals to get approval from regulators, by adding a new competitor.

When Amazon announced on 28 June that it was buying PillPack, the news immediately shook the industry. Shares of Walgreens and Rite Aid tumbled more than 9 per cent, while CVS Health dropped 6.6 per cent.

Even as Americans have shifted their buying habits online, prescription drugs have remained a stubbornly bricks-and-mortar purchase. About 90 per cent of all

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By | July 1st, 2018|Business|

Specsavers tops $1bn in annual sales

Specsavers’ optometry/optical dispensing and audiology stores sales in Australia and New Zealand for the first time topped $1 billion during the company’s financial year ended 31 February 2018.

The figure for Australia was $1,013 million (£569.5 million), while New Zealand had sales of $130 million (£73 million), to give a total of $1,143 million (£642 million) for ANZ.

As at 31 February, there were 324 optical and 18 audiology stores in Australia to give mean average annual sales of $2.96 million per store, whereas in New Zealand the average for the 52 stores was $A2.5 million.

In the United Kingdom market, Specsavers had sales of £1,392 million ($2379 million), while in its seven other markets in Europe the company had sales totalling £578 million ($1,029).

Total revenue during 2017-18 for the Specsavers group increased by 7 per cent to £2.61 billion through sales of 20.5 million spectacle frames, 500 million contact lenses and 337,770 hearing aids.

The company has 2,800 joint-venture partners operating 1,978 optical stores and hearing centres. There are 32,500 employees.

Commenting on the 2017-18 year, co-founder Mr Doug Perkins said: “We are in the midst of a decade when eye health is transforming at unprecedented speed. The disruptive changes present an opportunity for us to support ways in which ophthalmologists and optometrists can

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By | June 24th, 2018|Business|

Full-line US department stores to decline 18-20% by 2023

There are currently just under 6,000 full-line department stores in the United States but a report by Coresight Research predicts that number will decline by 1,100 to 1,200 by 2023 due to store closings, a drop of about 18 per cent to 20 per cent.

The report also noted that some department store companies, such as Macy’s, are placing more emphasis on the quality of the shopping experience, which may indicate that the department store sector will turn its focus to the “better-invested, higher-quality and probably smaller stores in higher-traffic locations in the next few years.”

By | June 24th, 2018|Business|

Sceats Group joining Sunshades Eyewear

The Jono Hennessy Group, headed by Jonathan and Louise Sceats, is joining Sunshades Eyewear on 1 July.

The business partnership is the culmination of a personal and professional friendship that was started by Sunshades Eyewear founder, Betty Lasse, and Jonathan (Jono) Hennessy Sceats over 30 years ago.

“Betty Lasse was my first account and she was so supportive; my designs at the time were a totally new look and not receiving much interest. However, Betty sold them well at her pharmacy at Bondi Beach, and Vogue did a story, so it was all then accepted,” Jonathan Sceats said.

The partnership will continue to enable Jonathan and his wife Louise to focus on design and marketing and to continue to evolve their boutique brands.

Sunshades Eyewear will provide back-end support across merchandise planning, finance, and supply-chain management. Sales of the brands Jono Hennessy, Carter Bond and Zeffer will continue to be managed by the Jono Hennessy Group.


Eye Candy Optics appoints two

Eye Candy Optics has appointed Sydney-based Sarah Huve as New South Wales and ACT sales representative and Shila Roshini as sales representative for Queensland.

Sarah has a sales background and years of experience in eyewear sales specifically, most recently at Safilo Australia.

Shila is an optometrist with sales experience at Johnson and Johnson Vision Care.


By | June 3rd, 2018|Business|

Novartis’ top legal counsel quits over payments to Trump lawyer’s private company

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis on 16 May announced the retirement of its group general legal counsel, Mr Felix Ehrat, as he apologised for payments made by the company to United States President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Mr Michael Cohen.

The announcement came after Novartis was dragged into the scandal over Mr Cohen’s payment of $US130,000 to US adult film actor Ms ‘Stormy’ Daniels just days before the 2016 presidential election.

On 9 May, Novartis said it had signed a one-year contract for $US100,000 a month with Mr Cohen’s firm in February 2017, seeking advice on the new Trump administration’s public health policy.

Following a meeting with Mr Cohen, the company changed its mind, although Novartis was contractually obliged to pay him the full $1.2 million.

US special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the payments as a strand of his wider investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and allegations of collusion and obstruction of justice by the Trump campaign.

Mr Trump originally denied having an affair with Ms Daniels, who goes by her stage name rather than her real name of Stephanie Clifford, more than a decade ago. But one of the newest members of Mr Trump’s legal team, former federal prosecutor and New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, has

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By | May 20th, 2018|Business|

Chain tops consumer survey of optometrists

Eyecare Plus has taken top spot in Canstar Blue’s 2018 customer satisfaction ratings for optometrists, recording five stars in most research categories, including service and advice, range of products and after-sale service.

The report on the survey said 14% of adults admitted that they get their eyes tested less frequently than every two years with another check-up; the majority of respondents said they get their eyes checked every one to two years (60%), while 22% do so every six to 12 months and 3% visit their optometrist every six months, or more frequently.

Sixty-three per cent of Australians said they always visit the same optometrist, with good customer service and support the most common reason for doing so, well ahead of convenience and price.

The report said:

  • Eyecare Plus was the only chain to score five stars for overall satisfaction, while also earning top marks in most other research areas.
  • Budget Eyewear, OPSM, Optical Superstore and Specsavers all achieved four stars overall, with Optical Superstore standing out with five stars for service and advice and value for money.
  • Big W Optical and Laubman & Pank both received just three stars overall, with a mix of four and three stars across the board.

Additional information:

By | May 20th, 2018|Business|

Britain’s Marks and Spencer enters optical retail

 British retail giant Marks and Spencer is to trial optician practices in five of its stores, Optician magazine reports.

The in-store concessions will be run by Galaxy Optical and branded as M&S Opticians.

The five locations are: Bolton, York, Derby, Manchester and London’s Westfield White City.

A spokesperson for Marks and Spencer said: “As part of our transformation plan we’re adapting our UK store estate to better appeal to our existing customers and attract new ones.

“One way we’re repositioning space is welcoming concessions into M&S stores. We’re already running a trial with Wasabi in our Foodhalls and now we’re extending this program with M&S Opticians.

“Working with an expert partner, Galaxy Optician Services, we’ll be carefully monitoring the trial.”

Concessions are scheduled for opening in the northern summer.

By | May 20th, 2018|Business|

Pharmaceutical company’s subsidiary made payments to company owned by Trump’s lawyer

Novartis Investments SARL, a subsidiary of Swiss-based multinational pharmaceutical giant Novartis, made four payments of $US99,980 each to a United States company, Essential Consultants LLC, owned by Mr Michael Cohen, a lawyer for the President of the United States, Mr Donald Trump.

The four payments were made between October 2017 and January 2018.

Novartis – whose chief executive was among 15 business leaders invited to dinner with Mr Trump at the World Economic Forum in January – spent more than $US10 million on lobbying in Washington last year and frequently seeks approvals from federal drug regulators.

Novartis said in a statement that its agreement with Essential Consultants has expired.

Mr Cohen created Essential Consultants in Delaware less than two weeks before he completed his deal with porn actress Stormy Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford), who is now contesting her contract with Mr Cohen as invalid. He initially said he paid her out of his own pocket by way of a home equity line of credit.

But last week, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York said that Mr Trump had reimbursed Mr Cohen through several $35,000 monthly transactions that amounted to more than $400,000 – covering the payment to Ms Clifford and, he said, other “incidental” expenses.

By | May 16th, 2018|Business|



Carl Zeiss Medic experiences ‘solid growth’

Carl Zeiss Meditec AG on 16 May announced it experienced solid growth for the six months ended 30 March, partly due to the strong performance of its microsurgery strategic business unit.

The company reported despite negative currency effects, revenue grew to €613.7 million, an increase of 4.5 per cent from year ago, or 9.5 per cent adjusted for currency effects.

Adjusted earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) amounted to around €90 million versus €89.1 million the prior year.

The adjusted EBIT margin was 14.7 per cent compared with 15.2 per cent a year ago.


Lens sales boost Hoya’s 4Q 2017 revenue

Lens sales boosted total sales for the Hoya Group during the fourth quarter ended 31 March, rising 7.6 per cent year on year, reaching 135,923 million yen, and 7 per cent on a constant currency basis.

During the fourth quarter, Hoya’s Life Care unit posted 91.9 million yen in sales, a 10 per cent increase over year ago, and an 8 per cent increase on a constant currency basis.

Lens sales rose 12 per cent, or 2 per cent like-for-like, compared with fourth quarter 2016. Contact lens sales rose 5 per cent versus a year ago; IOL sales rose 14 per cent versus a year ago.
Despite recording 5,615 million yen in

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By | May 16th, 2018|Business|