Grafton Optical

November 13, 2023

“We are a small family business, like a lot of our customers, and so we understand many of the challenges which independents face. We aim to be a one-stop shop for them, with a full range of diagnostic and refractive devices, consulting room furniture, instruments and consumables – tools, near vision test cards and practice essentials,” said David Thickens, CEO.

The 40 year old business is led by David, son-in-law of the founder, Brian Bowles, known to many in optics. The team of 13 – many of whom have worked for the business for more than 30 years – aim to offer a full service –

“Expert support and advice, supply of new and pre-owned equipment, installation, training, IT and marketing support, plus servicing, repairs and maintenance. We are proud to bring our customers new and emerging technologies along with quality education in partnership with leading experts.

“Working with High Street practices, private clinics, universities, optometry schools, private and NHS hospitals, our expert team has an established network of suppliers to provide the right equipment to suit customer specifications, on time, and on budget. We pride ourselves on staying ahead of the technological curve to ensure that we are as responsive as possible to our customers’ changing needs,” added David.

With the current economic uncertainty Grafton is continuing to provide innovative equipment to help customers in growing their businesses with enhanced services to patients.

A longstanding OSA member, Grafton gains much from being part of the UK optical supplier body –

“Guidance from the OSA on matters relating to the new Medical Devices Regulations, as well as the OSA’s direct representation at the MHRA has been invaluable over the last year. Getting suppliers up to speed on and compliant with the regulations, and ensuring that regulatory documentation is in place before the end of the transition period, has been a priority for us. The ability to ask questions and get expert advice and support has been vital and helped us to form our strategy.

“The OSA provide some really valuable opportunities for members – It is especially useful to be able to use the OSA stand at 100% Optical to host presentations and meetings, or to chat with the OSA team in person – there is always someone to help.”

A keen user of the OSA green glossary, Grafton’s sustainability journey is already well underway –

“Small changes can make a big difference. We have a recycling programme for all office waste and do our best to conserve energy at our premises by using natural light where possible, motion sensor lights in our warehouse and energy saving lightbulbs throughout the building, and by switching off all devices when not in use rather than leaving them on standby. We buy eco-friendly office supplies and have reduced our in-office printing by 55% since 2020. Our new telecoms system enables many meetings to be held via video link, thereby reducing travel.”

Like many other suppliers Grafton has stopped producing printed catalogues and product brochures and made everything available digitally, a policy which is appreciated by customers, David believes.