Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and high-street difficulties, Specsavers in Wombwell is looking back on and celebrating a bumper year of business, a year on from its opening in Autumn last year.

Over the past twelve months, the Wombwell High Street opticians has invested more than £500,000 in setting up the store, staff training and installing high-tech equipment, which has resulted in the creation of nearly a dozen retail and optometry jobs for the local area.

The directors have also invested in state of the art Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) machinery, which is used to screen and manage conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. Since opening, the store estimates it has spotted hundreds of dangerous underlying optical conditions using the equipment, and has conducted over 5,600 eye tests to date, the equivalent of treating one in two people in the town.

Although 2020 will be a year to forget for most, Store Director, Leanne Sayles, reflects on a notable year worthy of celebration in a number of ways, despite all the challenges they’ve faced.

She comments: ‘When we launched the store late last year, none of us had any idea the kind of difficulties the country would be facing in 2020.

‘Although the store had to close to some customers during the first wave of the pandemic, we remained open for care as an essential health service and a vital resource on the high street. We wanted to ensure the town’s eye health remained a priority and wasn’t neglected due to the lockdown.

‘Even though it’s been a tough year, it’s been a really humbling experience to have been there for the eye-related health needs of the town over the pandemic. As the lockdown lifted, and as we subsequently re-opened, a real highlight for me was welcoming back our customers into the store. With the new lockdown, we’ll make sure that we continue to be there for our customers’ needs.

‘As well as the challenges posed by Covid, we’ve also lived up to our Wombwell name. As well as not being able to predict the pandemic situation, we were surprised to learn that six of our staff, half of the store’s workforce, had fallen pregnant!

‘I’m not superstitious, but it was a bit of a coincidence that they had fallen pregnant within months of each other! Although this presented us with a few challenges, we worked hard to ensure the customer care and experience remained just as strong as before.’

As well as offering in-store safety measures, Specsavers has introduced a number of ways for customers to access services without needing to leave home, in response to the pandemic, including RemoteCare. A free nationwide consultation service, it offers advice and care via video and telephone link. Glasses and contact lenses can also be bought online with a current prescription through a new e-commerce service.

Specsavers has made some changes to normal practices to make sure its stores are as safe as possible for customers and staff alike. If you need a sight test, you’ll be able to book appointments as normal, but Specsavers will give you a call back to make sure you’re getting the right help – whether that’s in store, or talking remotely using its brand new RemoteCare.