Former Luxottica exec joins American Vision as CEO

American Vision Pvt. Ltd, a Pune-based startup that aggregates optical stores, has appointed Ashutosh Vaidya, former senior executive at eyewear giant Luxottica that owns Ray-Ban, as CEO designate, a top company executive told VCCircle.

Ajay G Kashikar, founder of American Vision, said Vaidya will be investing an undisclosed amount in the firm to support its ongoing expansion plans.

“Vaidya with his business development skill and strong network across the South Asia region is expected to architect strategy the firm,” Kashikar said.

“I joined American Vision as I got excited with the dream of offering quality eye care to Indians through local opticians,” said  Vaidya, who was previously working as director of sales for the South Asian region at Luxottica.

Vaidya had served Arvind Mills Ltd, IFB Industries Ltd and Samsonite India Ltd in the past.

Luxottica, which is headed by billionaire Italian businessman Leonardo Del Vecchio, owns brands such as Sunglass Hut, Ray-Ban, Oakley and Lenscrafters.

Besides Vaidya, a few other senior executives too have left Luxottica in the recent past. Andrea Guerra, who was CEO, left the eyewear major in 2014. Enrico Cavatortam who replaced Guerra, too resigned two months later. Earlier this year, the company saw the departure of Adil Mehboob Khan who succeeded Cavatortam as CEO.

Vaidya is the second high-profile executive to join the startup in less than a week. Earlier, Satish Jamdar, former managing director at air-conditioning firm Blue Star, came on board as mentor and strategic advisor for the company. Jamdar has also invested Rs 1 crore (nearly $149,000 then) in the firm.

American Vision follows an asset-light model. It has tied up with about 150 individual opticians in Pune, whose stores are then branded as American Vision outlets. The startup brings these outlets under one umbrella and also provides them an online platform.

The firm, which was launched in 2013, offers spectacles, sunglasses, contact lenses and accessories for men, women and kids.

The company is raising money from angel investors for expansion and in an advanced stage of talks with venture capital firms seeking bigger capital. Part of the money will also be used to expand to Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.

The company aims to create a chain of 15,000 stores in three to five years. Kashikar said his goal is to have one store in each of the 25,000 pin code areas in India.

The company had earlier this year raised Rs 55 lakh in its first external round of funding from two angel investors.

Titan Eye, Vision Express and Lenskart are among the players with nationwide presence in India’s eye-wear retail sector. GKB, Himalaya, Lawrence & Mayo are the other players with 60 to 80 stores each in select locations in the country.

The sector hasn’t witnessed too many deals in the recent past. Last month, eyewear e-tailer Lenskart Solutions Pvt. Ltd had raised Rs 400 crore ($60 million then) in its Series D round of investment from International Finance Corp, TPG Growth and other investors.

Last year, private investment firms Ventureast and Asian Healthcare Fund had jointly invested Rs 40 crore ($6.5 million then) in Hyderabad-based Eye Gear Optics India Pvt. Ltd, that runs a chain of optical retail stores under the brand name Ben Franklin across the country.

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