Glasses Direct proves itself a clear winner

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Startups Awards accolade helps secure £500,000 investment for future growth and prompts 30 per cent increase in turnover

Winning the Young Entrepreneur of the Year category and the overall NatWest Startups Business of the Year at the 2005 Startups Awards has helped Glasses Direct, the online optician, to increase turnover by 30 per cent and secure £500,000 investment for future growth.

Founder and Managing Director, James Murray Wells, also beat Richard Branson to first place in the Top 50 Entrepreneurs' ranking.

James Murray Wells comments: ” Winning the Startups Awards helped fuel word of mouth sales at the time, which five months later are snowballing and driving repeat purchases. The resulting credibility and wider awareness attracted potential investors, and the necessary financing to push the business forward this year. The organisers are also the best at keeping in touch with us entrepreneurs – so much so that I am on the judging panel for the 2006 event.”

Glasses Direct was born out of James' frustration at having to pay £150 for a new pair of reading glasses.

Research showed that they actually cost approximately £7 to produce with some high street opticians marking up by 2,000 per cent. He quickly recognised a gap in the market for more affordable glasses and with a £5,000 loan created www.glassesdirect.co.uk.

The company currently employs 18 people, has a turnover of £1.7 million and stocks some 10,000 frames as well as contact lenses and ski goggles.

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