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Should’ve gone to GCU!

Friday, 07 July 2017

SPECSAVERS founders Doug and Dame Mary Perkins have received honorary degrees from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU).

They were awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science, and joined students as they celebrated their graduation on Wednesday.

Dame Mary said: ‘The University for the Common Good hits home with me. It’s all about helping others to be the best that they can be.’

The couple met while studying optometry at Cardiff University, and on completion of their degrees, they bought the small practice owned by Mary’s father in Bristol.  They proceeded to build up a chain of 23 outlets called Bebbington and Perkins and, in 1980, sold it to a company that was bought by Dollond and Aitchison for £2million. They started Specsavers in 1984 after the UK Government deregulated professionals, including opticians, allowing them to advertise their products for the first time.

Dame Mary said: ‘We started our own business straight out of university, as soon as we were registered, and we had people working for us – but it was impossible to say then that we could have imagined how far the business would develop.’

Dame Mary revealed companies such as Specsavers need more opticians to cope with demand, explaining: ‘If you’re an optics student, you are walking straight into a really good job. There is a great shortage of optics students. We employ a lot of GCU students are we are always looking for more.’

Specsavers is the world’s largest private optician chain, selling more than 19million pairs of glasses and 400 million contact lenses each year from nearly 2,000 stores in 10 countries.



Issued by Beattie Communications on behalf of Specsavers.



Specsavers notes to editors

  • Specsavers is a partnership of almost 2,000 locally-run businesses throughout the world -all committed to delivering high quality, affordable optical and hearing care in the communities they serve.
  • Each store is part-owned and managed by its own joint venture partners who are supported by key specialists in support offices
  • More than 31 million customers used Specsavers in 2016 and the partnership had a turnover of more than £2bn.
  • More than one in three people who wear glasses in the UK buy them from Specsavers.
  • Specsavers is a champion of the National Health Service – of its 19.2m customers in the UK, 60% are from the NHS and the company is the largest provider of free NHS digital hearing aids
  • Specsavers supports several UK charities and is in partnership with RNIB for a public awareness campaign to transform the nation’s eye health.


GCU notes to Editors:


  • GCU has modern campuses in the heart of Glasgow, London and New York, and educational partnerships in Bangladesh, Mauritius, Oman and South Africa.
  • Our 20,000 students experience a transformative education which combines employability and entrepreneurialism with social responsibility. 96% of our graduates are in work or further study within six months of graduating. (DLHE 2016)
  • The top modern university in Scotland for research power, GCU is helping to build inclusive societies, support healthy lives and develop sustainable environments. (REF 2014)
  • We are Scotland’s first accredited Living Wage University Employer and a member of the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative.
  • Our annual economic contribution to the UK is estimated at £1 billion, while our social benefit as the University for the Common Good is evident in communities at home and across the globe. BiGGAR Economic Impact 2013/14 report
  • Through the education we provide, the research we conduct, and the social and economic benefit we deliver, Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) is the University for the Common Good.
  • Find out more at gcu.ac.uk and follow us on Twitter @CaledonianNews