AN AYRSHIRE optometry group has further expanded its footprint with the acquisition of three town centre practices - bringing their total number of stores to eight.

Urquharts Opticians – who have recently opened their new flagship store in Ayr’s Miller Road – have snapped up the Ronald B MacGregor independent chain following Mr MacGregor’s retirement.

Urquhart’s acquired the former Optical Express in Kilwinning last August, and is now expanding further into North Ayrshire with new stores in Saltcoats and West Kilbride.

Speaking exclusively to the Ayrshire Weekly Press, managing director Peter Telfer described his excitement about expanding the Urquhart brand into new territories.

He said: “We talk about having regional hubs in the community as we now have eight branches in total – Ayr, Kilmarnock, Prestwick and Troon – and with Kilwinning, and the three new stores in Saltcoats, West Kilbride and Stranraer.

“And they are all market and coastal towns, we like working in the community, we love Ayrshire, so great to have a further North Ayrshire presence in addition to South and East currently, and we are excited about working in Stranraer, the people are really lovely.

“We took over the branches on the first of October, we are rebranding, bringing in new frame stock, so people can shop in their own community and not have to travel far.

“We will focus on equipment, on service and on choice of frames, being able to offer something different to the people of Ayrshire.”

“At the moment, people in Stranraer need to travel to Ayr or Dumfries to get a pair of Raybans for example, we want to bring that experience to them.”

The takeover of Macgregors will protect eight jobs, and a complete refit is pencilled in for 2022.

Peter’s focus is retaining the personal service expected from independent opticians, with employees that know their customers needs and are embedded in the community they serve.

He continued: “We want to make a significant investment into the existing community.

“Our branch managers are important factor in this, they will have ownership and we aren’t a big business where they will need to speak to a head office to make decisions. The autonomy will be there within the practice so they can go and make the right decision.”

Urquharts recently launched its Community fund for Ayrshire residents to apply for micro-funding to support projects in the area will extend to the new areas.