Optimax moves for Ultralase as Veverka departs

TONY Veverka has stepped down as chief executive of Ultralase after a deal was struck between the laser eye surgery group and rival Optimax.

TheBusinessDesk.com understands that the deal was required by Leeds-based Ultralase to reduce its debt burden.

Mr Veverka said: “The deal gives the opportunity for more consolidation. There’s more consolidation in the market.”

Mr Veverka, who said he was set to launch a new venture in the New Year away from the laser eye surgery industry, said the economic downturn had seen consumers saving their money on items such as laser eye treatments. He said across the industry surgery was down 40%.

Reflecting on his tenure at Ultralase, which has clinics across the UK, he said: “We had fantastic growth in my early days as CEO. That was a great situation to be in in what was then a good consumer market.

“The last couple of years have been much more choppy in terms of the consumer market. We’ve now put Ultralase in a position where it can continue as a going concern.”

London-headuartered Optimax was founded in 1991 by Russell Ambrose and has around 30 clinics nationwide.

Mr Ambrose, who brought laser eye surgery to Britain, told TheBusinessDesk.com that further details on the deal would be released shortly.

Ultralase underwent a financial restructuring in 2010 which saw its banks -Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group and Bank of Ireland – take a majority stake in the business.

The company was bought in 2008 for £174m by private equity firm 3i.

Mr Veverka said he could not comment about the details of the deal.

However, Ultralase’s Wikipedia page has been updated to state that the company yesterday underwent a CVA which involved the closure of 12 clinics and the ‘loss of several jobs’ as part of the deal with Optimax.

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