Latin American retailers expanding globally – Devlyn
By Jorge Lizan
Managing Director of Lizan Retail Advisors (LRA)
As part of a series of articles on Latin American retailers expanding globally, I was fortunate to interview some of the industry leaders responsible of taking their companies global. They have shared their experiences on global retail expansion and have confided with me the challenges they’ve faced and the opportunities they see.
In this installment we interviewed Melanie Devlyn, Chairman of the Board of Devlyn Holdings. Founded in 1936 by Dr. Frank J. Devlyn, Devlyn Optical is a family-owned, multinational optical retailer with operations in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and the USA.
Melanie, tell us more about Devlyn:
The majority of our stores are located inside or near grocery and department stores such as Walmart, Sears, HEB, Sam’s, Superior, Coppel and Famsa. All these major retailers have for years seen the benefits of using and taking advantage of the Devlyn name to add value to their customers by providing high quality optical products and services at an affordable price.
The Devlyn brand enjoys a commanding dominance in consumers’ minds when it comes to eyeglasses and contact lenses. However, we also have a strong brand presence outside our optical stores through a line of Devlyn branded vision care products such as eye vitamins,eye drops and eye makeup remover. Through a partnership with Genomma Lab (BMV:LAB),
the largest pharmaceutical and personal care product manufacturer in Latin America, these products are now sold successfully in the most important grocery retailers and drug store chains in Mexico and will soon be available in the U.S. and other major markets of Central and South America.
We’re proud of our history and excited about the future as we continue to help our customers enjoy the best vision possible. We will continue to work hard at keeping our customerssatisfied and coming back with their family and friends to benefit from Devlyn’s long standing tradition of excellence in quality and affordable eyewear.
In which countries Devlyn currently operates?
Mainly we have a big stores network in Mexico, but we also have operations in Guatemala. El Salvador and recently in the southern United States, Texas and California.
What markets are you aiming to conquer?
We want to continue expanding our presence in the Mexican market with all our formats aimed at different market segments, but we also want to strengthen our presence in Central America and in specific cities to sell the Hispanic market in the United States.
How was the company’s start?
Next year we will be fulfilling 80 years since Dr. Frank Devlyn began operating in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. From the 60’s his older sons Frank and Jesse started the expansion of business activities and presence in the country. Later they were also joined by his younger brother, Pat, who started a period of rapid national expansion.
What is the key factor that has made the brand so successful globally?
For Devlyn it has always been a central focus on making customers for life. This combined with strengthening trade relations with its suppliers, constant innovation in its marketing, and continued strengthening of its brand have made Devlyn the leader of the Mexico optical industry. We are proud to be the largest optical chain in Latin America and one of the most important in the world.
How does your franchise system work?
Currently we not drive our growth through franchising.
Devlyn is landing in the United States, what are the challenges and opportunities for the expansion of the company in this market? Since our inception in the United States we found a significant knowledge and affinity with the Devlyn brand in the Hispanic market and our commercial proposition, especially in terms of attention and customer service has been well received. We have been learning about the best locations to be conveniently close to the market segment that we seek to serve, and we are currently looking for locations that allow us to achieve this.
Looking ahead, how do you see Devlyn in 2025?
We see it with much enthusiasm and projects to grow in our core markets and new markets organically and through mergers and acquisitions to consolidate as one of the major international players in the optical industry. We are continually improving our customer service promise through constant innovation and maintaining our social responsibility in Mexico and the countries where we are present.
In one sentence tell me about yourself:
I am proud to lead a team that with great responsibility is growing our company; my goal is to take care of the company in order to pass it on to the next generations better that we received it, and following the dream of my grandparents, my father and now my dream too. If the family is well, the company is well … If the company is good, the family is better!
Jorge Lizan is Managing Director of Lizan Retail Advisors (LRA), an advisory firm specialized in the Global Retail Real Estate Industry. LRA helps retailers, developers and investors with international business development, through Market Strategy, Franchising, Market Planning, Tenant Representation and Advisory services. Before founding LRA, Jorge served as the Vice President of Business Development of the International Council of Shopping Center (ICSC).
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