THE Optical Express eyecare business developed by entrepreneur David Moulsdale has posted a 144 per cent increase in annual profits after growing sales amid challenging market conditions but noted that Brexit poses a risk to its success.

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Cumbernauld-based Optical Express made a £6.5 million underlying profit in the year to December 29 compared to £3.4m in the preceding period.

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Writing in the accounts of the parent Lorena Investments business, directors noted: “The investment in the latest state of the art technology, staff and additional advertising during the year, while controlling other costs has resulted in turnover growing and an increase in profitability.”

Total sales rose to £108m from £101.9m.

The results for the firm have been published weeks after it emerged that Mr Moulsdale had been rebuffed in a bid to buy a leading Scottish golf club.

Read more: Entrepreneur has bid for top Scottish golf club rejected

Derwent London rejected an offer from Mr Moulsdale to acquire Cawder Estate and the long-term lease of Cawder Golf Club in East Dunbartonshire.

Optical Express provides services ranging from the sale of glasses and contact lenses to the provision of laser eye surgery.

The results suggest the company is enjoying success in its efforts to respond to developments in a market in which it is up against giants such as Boots and newer players that sell glasses and contact lenses online.

After investing heavily in response in support of a drive that directors reckon has made the firm the leading provider of refractive surgery in the UK and Ireland Optical Express sees good prospects in that market.

Directors said the business was well placed to capitalise as consumer confidence in refractive surgery returns and new procedures are introduced.

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The business is also positioning itself to capitalise on official moves to make greater use of optometrists to ease the strain on the NHS.

Mr Moulsdale noted: “The Scottish Government have confirmed that the Optometrist should be the first port of call for any eye symptoms of concerns in place of the GP via a media campaign. “

He added: “The National Health Service across the UK is stretched, making access to care via Ophthalmology departments reduced.”

Working in partnership with Glasgow Caledonian university, Optical Express has provided funding to allow 80 of its optometrists to obtain the qualification needed to allow them to prescribe all medications that benefit the eye and surrounding area.

While conditions are tough on the high street, the trading outlook for the firm appears to be bright.

Mr Moulsdale said trading in 2019 has been better than in 2018 with both turnover and profitability up.

“We continue to invest strongly in our people and technology, the results of which have impacted positively both on our patient engagement and satisfaction and, in turn, our bottom line, a trend we foresee continuing into 2020,” said Mr Moulsdale.

However, he added: “BREXIT as ever remains a distinct risk to our continued success.”

Optical Express has outlets in Ireland, Germany and Croatia as well as the UK.

The business generated £10.4m sales in Europe in the latest year, compared with £10.7m in the preceding period.

UK sales increased to £97.6m from £91.2m.

With Boris Johnson’s negotiations with European leaders about the terms of the UK’s divorce from the EU entering a crucial stage, companies based in the UK are still in the dark about how it will impact on the terms of international trade.

The value of the pound has fallen since the Brexit vote in 2016 and been subject to fluctuations.

The son of a Glasgow taxi driver, Mr Moulsdale began work in an optician’s when he left school aged 16.

He opened his first outlet in 1991. Optical Express grew rapidly across the UK through takeovers and also expanded overseas and Mr Moulsdale won top billing in the Entrepreneurial Exchange’s awards in 1998.

The business incurred a multi-million pound bill for store closures amid tough trading conditions in 2014 during which an overseas corporation, Insight Global Holding, took a controlling stake in it.