Halperin: Selling Lenses for a Fortune Is Piggish

Optica Halperin hit back yesterday at a rival's accusations that it sells substandard multifocal lenses on the cheap. "There is no reason to sell multifocal lenses for a lot of money, unless you want to profit like a pig," Yaakov Halperin, CEO of Optica Halperin, told TheMarker.

Rival eyeglasses retailer Luxvision is the official importer and retailer of the Zeiss multifocal lenses, made in Germany.

halperin - Eyal Toueg - April 6 2011
Eyal Toueg

Multifocal lenses help wearers see properly at various distances. For example, you might buy multifocals if you could neither read up close nor see long distances, rather than have two pairs of glasses. The Zeiss product is considered high quality.

Hostilities have erupted between Optica Halperin and Carl Zeiss International recently; the former might even stop selling the latter's products. Zeiss lenses currently make up 30% of Optica Halperin's multifocal-lens sales, and 8% of its total sales.

Zeiss wrote a letter to Optica Halperin, saying it had stopped working with the Indian manufacturer from whom Optica Halperin had been buying Zeiss lenses. From now on, Zeiss wrote, Optica Halperin would have to buy from Luxvision.

For two years Luxvision has been upset about Optica Halperin's solution to lower prices. Luxvision sells Zeiss multifocals for NIS 4,100 to NIS 4,560 a pair, on average, while for Optica Halperin the numbers are NIS 1,500 to NIS 2,000.

Luxvision has been arguing for two years that the lenses Optica Halperin imports from India are inferior.

"If I'm selling bad goods, why aren't I being sued?" Halperin said. "My goods are made in India and theirs are made in China. The problem began when Luxvision realized we were selling more than they were. Luxvision sells 500 multifocal lenses a month. We sell 2,500 to 3,000."

He claimed Luxvision pays the same prices Optica Halperin does for lenses, "and I'm not losing money. They just prefer to sell only to the rich and I want to bring them to the masses. This isn't a luxury item like a Mercedes. It's lenses for seeing."

Halperin also vows to continue sourcing his lenses in India. In any case, he won't be buying from Luxvision because its prices are robbery, he says. If he can't buy from India he'll buy from the United States or Europe. "I hereby state that Optica Halperin will continue to sell lenses at the cheapest price in Israel," he said.

For its part, Luxvision said Zeiss Germany's letter to Optica Halperin speaks for itself.

"The Israeli public should know that Halperin is not Zeiss Germany's official representative, so we cannot speak for the quality and source of the lenses [Optica Halperin] sells," Luxvision said.

"The consumer should check why there are differences in price. There is no comparison between the quality and technology of the original Zeiss Germany lenses, sold by Luxvision in official stores, and the Indian lenses marketed by Halperin. Anybody buying those lenses is putting his money at risk."