TBY talks to Axel Mallman, CEO, Lafam, on the sector.

Axel Mallman

What have been some of the company's major achievements since its creation in 1970?

Lafam has been in Colombia for over 40 years. We started with 45 stores and were purchased by GrandVision, a Dutch multinational specializing in optical retail, in 2011. We now have over 100 optical retail stores and three eye clinics. Colombia is the only country in the world where GrandVision has eye clinics in addition to the standard retail business. Acquisitions are always a part of our strategy—we grow organically and through acquisitions. Our vision is to increase our retail presence and be the best place to work in the optical sector. We are currently the largest player in the market, with a 5% market share. It is a fragmented market, and there is potential for acquisitions. As the country evolves and the middle class grows, buying spectacles is no longer a luxury item.

What are the peculiarities of the Colombian ophthalmology sector?

At the Latin American level, ophthalmology and optometry are recognized in Colombia. The country was a pioneer in many things. We have had two separate professions for over 50 years. Moreover, there have always been excellent universities in Colombia training leading specialists in both fields.