FIVE new stores will be added to the 16-strong Optical Express chain of High Street opticians by the end of this year, and the company aims to have 100 stores throughout the UK by the Millenium.

In the first half of this year Optical Express invested #500,000 in refitting their stores, and plan to spend another #700,000 by the end of the year in opening new retail units and acquiring others.

One of the new Optical Express stores will be in Glasgow's St Enoch Shopping Centre which alone will represent a #250,000 investment by the company.

The company's founder and managing director, Mr David Moulsdale, has also strengthened his management team as he prepares to invade England and Ireland.

``We plan to have 100 retail units by the turn of the century,'' explained Mr Moulsdale, ``25 of these will be in Scotland and the remaining 75 in England, Wales and Ireland.''

To achieve this aim Mr Mouldsdale recognised that he had to recruit senior management, and in the past few months has brought on board Mr Gordon Greig to look after personnel, Mr Gordon McDougall as Director of Optometristry and Ms Sally Bates as training manager.

He also expressed his appreciation for the advice given to him as he made his expansion plans from Mr Billy McLaughlin, a partner in accountants Kidson Impey.

Optical Express, David Moulsdale revealed, is poised to go down the franchise route, and a significant number of the new stores will be franchises.

This year he expects the company to achieve a #1m profit on an expected turnover of #8m, and he expects turnover in 1997 to jump to #12m.

David Moulsdale, then only 22, struck out on his own in March 1991 when he and his former business partner, Mr Don Bates, decided to go their own ways. Both kept the name Optical Express and Mr Bates now runs three retail units still using this name.

Mr Moulsdale began with a single Optical Express store in Leith and opened up his second outlet at the Parkhead Forge 18 months later but the turning point for the company October 1993 when he succeeded in securing a unit in the massive Gyle shopping centre on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

The Gyle represented a #250,000 investment, and Mr Moulsdale admits that during the first three months of the new store he questioned whether or not he had made the right decision.

``It was a big investment at the time for the company and we opened in October which is traditionally the quite time for opticians. We went through some difficult times until January 1994 when the business took off.''

Since this date Optical Express has grown steadily, and in December 1995 bought the 11 Remocker Shapiro retail shops.

Mr Moulsdale believes that the secret of the company's success is that they do not treat customers ``like goods on a conveyor belt'' but try to keep ``a personal touch''.