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Eyemart Express attracts strategic investment from Leonard Green & Partners

Private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners (LGP) has completed a strategic investment in Eyemart Express, a national value optical retailer, joining majority stakeholders FFL Partners (FFL) and the Barnes Family.While financial terms of the private transaction have not been disclosed, the new investment will not add any incremental debt to the Eyemart Express balance sheet. 

“We are very excited to welcome Leonard Green & Partners to Eyemart Express,” says Michael Bender, CEO of Eyemart Express. “The team at LGP shares our vision about the significant market opportunity ahead, and their experience and insights, in partnership with FFL, will enable us to continue to grow our market share, innovate and deliver best-in-class customer service.” 
Headquartered in Farmers Branch, Texas, Eyemart Express is a leading, independent optical retailer with 223 stores in 41 states. Each store combines an independent Doctor of Optometry for eye exams and on-site lab for prescription eye wear in one convenient location. The company, which celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 2020, has generated nine consecutive years of same store sales growth. 
“We were attracted to Eyemart due to its long history of consistent growth in the value optical sector, which has only accelerated in recent years under the leadership of Michael and his team,” says Alyse Wagner, Partner at LGP. “We have been impressed by the management team’s industry experience, the company’s entrepreneurial and collegial culture that attracts top-talent and drives success, and its high marks for customer satisfaction.” 
Since FFL’s initial investment in 2014, Eyemart has become a leader in the fast-growing value segment of the optical industry, opening 78 new stores since 2014. During this period, Eyemart Express grew its management team and invested to strengthen a variety of operations and systems such as finance, marketing, and new store development. Investments in IT have focused on point of sale, e-commerce, and business intelligence reporting. 
“Supporting Eyemart Express throughout this latest period of growth has been tremendously rewarding and we’re confident the company’s success will only accelerate through our new partnership with LGP,” says Chris Harris, Partner at FFL Partners. “LGP’s strong experience building retail businesses will be incredibly valuable as Eyemart Express continues to capitalise on its strengths and serve more customers through organic growth and strategic acquisitions.” 
Evercore acted as lead financial advisor and Barclays and BofASecurities acted as advisors to Eyemart Express and FFL Partners. 

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