Glasses Direct founder Jamie Murray-Wells marks exit following MyOptique fundraising

Share sale to Cipio Partners will see 2005 Young Gun step down as chairman

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Online eyewear retailer MyOptique Group has announced that founder Jamie Murray-Wells is to step down as chairman, following the sale of his shares to Munich-based private equity firm Cipio Partners.

Founded in 2004, MyOptique Group was originally launched by 2005 Young Gun Murray Wells as Glasses Direct, providing prescription eyewear online at wholesale prices.

The company has since grown to employ more than 150 people, with sales of £29.9m in the year ending April 2013 and selling to 50 overseas markets. It is expected to break £35m in sales this year.

Glasses Direct rebranded as the MyOptique Group in 2012 following 2011’s acquisition of leading European sunglasses retailer Sunglasses Shop and the launch of premium optical boutique a year later.

The Group has also subsequently acquired contact lens retailer LensOn to add to its portfolio of retail sites, meaning it now has a leading presence in all three segments of the online optical market.

MyOptique was named this year as one of the ‘Future Fifty’, a joint initiative by the government and Tech City UK to identify and support fifty high-growth business looking to float on the London Stock Exchange.

It is believed former director and executive chairman Murray-Wells remained the most significant individual shareholder in the Group leading up Cipio Partners’ purchase of the majority of his shares.

It represents a successful exit for the 30-year-old entrepreneur, who founded Glasses Direct having sourced the initial working capital for the business from his student loan.

In June this year, he joined net giant Google as an ‘industry manager’ and is expected to focus full-time on this new role, following the end of his involvement with MyOptique.

Murray-Wells’ exit is concurrent with a separate £8m fundraising deal in MyOptique Group, led by existing investor Acton Capital Partners.

Former Marks & Spencer main board executive director Maurice Helfgott will replace Murray-Wells as chairman. Helfgott is the founder and chairman of Amery Capital, an advisor and investor company to digital, retail and consumer businesses.

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