Colorado Springs-based ABBA Eye Care has been sold to a Texas company that plans to grow from about 90 to as many as 300 locations within five years by acquiring regional eyecare groups and optometry practices.
Acuity Eyecare Group, owned by Dallas-based private equity investment firm Riata Capital Group, bought ABBA and Lincoln, Neb.-based EyeCare Specialties last month, but the transaction wasn’t announced until Jan. 8. The company also landed “a substantial equity investment” to support its continued growth and expansion from funds and accounts advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
“Our formula is to purchase the business and keep the DNA of the company in place. We are creating a community of neighborhood providers and we like to keep the local brand in place,” Acuity CEO Eric Anderson said Tuesday. Founder Dr. Marcus Meyer “was very careful about who to sell his business to and wanted to keep his legacy in good hands. We build on the success of individual entrepreneurs by giving the providers and employees access to resources to do their jobs better.”
ABBA operates five locations in the Colorado Springs area, two in Pueblo and one each in Alamosa, Aurora, Gunnison, La Junta, Lamar and Pagosa Springs. The chain was started in 1978 by Meyer, who retired after the sale but reinvested some of the sale price into Acuity. ABBA employs 200 and offers eye exams, a variety of other vision care services, prescription and non-prescription glasses, sunglasses and contact lenses.
EyeCare Specialties was started more than 20 years ago by three optometrists and now operates five locations in southeastern Nebraska and a vision therapy clinic.
Acuity was started nearly two years ago with the acquisition of Crown Vision Center in St. Louis, Eyetique in Pittsburgh and International Eyecare Care in Quincy, Ill., and shortly after added Malbar Vision in Nebraska. The company in March added the five location One Hour Optical in the Denver area and 20/20 Image Eye Centers in the Phoenix area. With the latest acquisitions, Acuity now operates nearly 90 locations in eight states and The First Look Lab near St. Louis, and expects to expand to more than 100 locations soon, based on other deals in the works.
Riata was started in 1991 and has completed more than 140 acquisitions totaling $4 billion in North American business services, consumer and health care industries. Some of Riata’s principals organized and led the acquisition in 2011 of Vision Source, a Houston area-based chain of optometry practices that grew from 2,300 to more than 3,150 locations before it sold in 2015 to Essilor USA.
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