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If sunglasses are synonymous with Ray-Ban or Oakley for you, you might be let down if you walk into a Lenskart outlet. Premium brands like these, Tommy Hilfiger, and French Connection, once sold by India’s largest eyewear retailer at its 1,000+ stores, are now conspicuous by their absence.  

Now, Lenskart’s shelves are filled with in-house brands such as Vincent Chase and John Jacobs. But neither brand can fill the premium shoes of the eyewear giants. The former largely caters to price-sensitive consumers, and the latter has firmly established itself in the mid-premium tier. These brands retail between Rs 1,000 (US$12.5) and Rs 6,000 (US$75)

Filling the premium gap in Lenksart’s lineup is Japanese eyewear brand Owndays, in which the company acquired acquired Tech Crunch Lenskart acquires majority stake in eyewear brand Owndays in $400 million deal Read more  a majority stake this June.  Owndays’ eyewear range begins at Rs 4,000 (US$51) and goes up to Rs 15,000 (US$190)

The Owndays acquisition is only step one in the 12-year-old startup’s attempt at revamping its image—and its business. Aside from partnerships with aspirational brands, the $4.5 billion-worth Lenskart is now building in-house private labels, acquiring brands, and investing in optic-technology startups. 

In August 2021, Lenskart invested in an AI-powered video analytics platform TangoEye and the Israel-based 6over6, which allows customers to take an eye test online. The investments happened through Lenskart’s $20 million vision fund it launched last June. 

To top it all, the Alpha Wave-backed startup is also aggressively expanding its infrastructure, with plans to set up the world’s largest automated eyewear manufacturing manufacturing The Tech Portal India’s Lenskart to set-up world’s largest automated eyewear manufacturing facility, aims to serve 100Mn customers annually Read more  facility, which aims to serve 100 million customers annually and add 400 more more Fashion Network Lenskart closes funding round, plans 400 new stores Read more  retail stores.

Out Hunting

In 2022, Lenskart also incorporated a Singapore-based subsidiary called Neso brands to invest in consumer eyewear brands worldwide. In May 2022, Neso appointed a new CEO and raised $100+ million seed capital from Softbank and other investors.

The idea is to scale quickly by leveraging its omnichannel network and technological capabilities such as face-mapping and virtual 3D try-on.

AUTHOR

Aayush Agarwal

Aayush covers businesses that are primarily Internet for The Ken. In his previous stint at Goldman Sachs, he spent slightly more than a year analysing investment opportunities in the China Internet space. A science graduate, he completed his postgraduate from the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode. Write to him if, among other things, you wish to talk about e-businesses, journalism or just offbeat career choices.

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