An independent optician practice in West Lothian has been saved for the local community by a 55-year-old first time business owner - and support from Clydesdale Bank.
The future of Wallace Opticians in Whitburn was uncertain after its previous owner, whose family has been trading on the site for over 40 years, decided to retire. Eli Todd, who was previously employed at the clinic as a locum optician, acquired the business on 5 July after obtaining a six figure funding package from Clydesdale Bank.
The deal was delivered by Asheley Collins, relationship manager at the Bank’s Business and Private Banking Centre in Glasgow.
Eli, a mother of two from Glasgow, explained: “I am no spring chicken but I relished the challenge of doing something different in my later years. I’m competitive so I’m determined to make Wallace Opticians better and more profitable.”
Since taking over, she has revamped the practice’s spectacles stock and experimented with bold window displays.
The changes have helped to attract 50 new patients, with a quarter of all those treated last month new to Wallace Opticians. The practice is so busy that a new job has already been created, with a local teenager recruited to work as a store assistant.
Eli also plans to implement a reading clinic for children with learning difficulties such as dyslexia, which would be the first of its kind in West Lothian. Currently such clinics are only available in Glasgow or Edinburgh.
Despite being an experienced optician Eli feared that her age and lack of experience in running a business would make it difficult to find a funding partner. To her surprise, she found herself in the position where banks were competing for her business.
She added: “I was offered several funding packages but Clydesdale Bank came up with the goods. The service has been fabulous. My relationship manager has been fantastic and Clydesdale Bank also reacted speedily when time was of the essence.”
Deyrick Smith, Regional Head of Commercial and Small Business at Clydesdale Bank, said: “Wallace Opticians provides an important service to the local community. It’s incredibly rewarding to know that our support has helped the practice not only to survive but also to thrive and grow.”