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Vision Benefits Company Names CEO

He’d been serving as interim chief.

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PITTSBURGH — Vision Benefits of America has named Jeff A. Hollowood as its president and CEO.

He’d been serving as VBA’s interim president and CEO since March 2018.

“I am excited to take a more permanent leadership role at VBA,” Hollowood said. “I look forward to working closely with our business partners and internal team to further our mission of improving the human experience by utilizing innovative models of service, delivery and advocacy to reduce barriers to high-quality eye care.”

Hollowood served on the VBA Board of Directors in 2012 following nearly a decade of experience in civil litigation, business law, real estate law and regulatory compliance. After serving as chairman of VBA’s audit and finance committee, in 2015, he resigned from the board and became the company’s general counsel. He was appointed corporate secretary in 2016.

“Jeff’s knowledge of the vision industry and VBA makes him well suited for this role,” said Dr. Karen E. Rule, chairman of the VBA board. “Jeff will be an asset to VBA as we embark on the next phase of our strategic plan. His leadership skills, innovation and vision will ensure VBA is in the best position for future success.”

Founded in 1965 as one of the first preferred provider organizations in the country, VBA offers group vision benefits to corporations, municipalities, schools, health and welfare funds, hospitals and health maintenance organizations.

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Eyecare Equipment Firm Names CEO

The appointment is effective immediately.

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NORFOLK, VA — Advancing Eyecare, a newly formed holding company owned by private equity firm Atlantic Street Capital, announce the appointment of Brad Staley to the role of CEO.

Staley will oversee all operations of Advancing Eyecare’s ophthalmic equipment industry businesses Lombart Instrument, Marco, INNOVA and Enhanced Medical Services.

Staley joins Advancing Eyecare with over 24 years of global operating experience in healthcare, technology and manufacturing companies, including most recently as CEO of United Scope, a private equity-owned global provider of microscopy and optical solutions. Prior to United Scope, he led vision care companies for more than a decade in the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific. Staley served as president of Signet Armorlite, a business unit of Essilor, and chief operating officer of Performance Optics, a global ophthalmic lens manufacturer recently sold to HOYA Corp.

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in physics, Staley also holds an MBA from Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and served as a naval officer on the USS Enterprise.

Advancing Eyecare is a wholly owned portfolio company of Atlantic Street Capital, which formed Advancing Eyecare earlier this year in partnership with Lombart Instrument and Marco Ophthalmic. The group is made up of an alliance of leading ophthalmic instrument providers in North America, including Lombart Instrument, INNOVA Medical Ophthalmics, Enhanced Medical Services and, most recently, Marco Ophthalmic.

“With the addition of Marco Ophthalmic, the Advancing Eyecare group is now truly a ‘one-stop’ solution for eyecare practitioners throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico,” Staley said. “With our broad range of technology, products, and services, we are uniquely positioned to partner with our customers to help provide the highest possible level of eye care for their patients.”

Andy Wilkins, managing partner of Atlantic Street Capital, said, “We couldn’t be more delighted with the appointment of Brad. He is a results-oriented, high-integrity leader with an excellent track record of improving service levels, operational efficiency, sales results, and increasing value across a range of PE-backed businesses. Brad’s background and experience, combined with the high quality assets and team at Advancing Eyecare, will bring accelerated benefits for our customers…both in terms of service levels and overall value.”

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Chain Retailer to Close All Stores, Evaluate Options for Optical Business

The company was unable to find a buyer.

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GREEN BAY, WI — Retail chain Shopko announced that it will wind down its operations and that it is “evaluating strategic options” for its optical business.

The company said in a press release that despite its best efforts, it was “unable to find a buyer for its go-forward business as a going concern.”

“As a result, Shopko will commence an orderly wind-down of its retail operations beginning this week,” the company stated.

USA Today reports that Shopko announced in February its intent to close 250 stores, which would amount to 70 percent of its locations. That plan came as the company “attempted to scale back the business and work through bankruptcy to restore profitability and attract a buyer or investor,” according to the newspaper.

Now, the company instead plans to close all stores by mid-June, USA Today reports.

The company will not move forward with the auction that it previously contemplated, and Gordon Bros. will oversee a liquidation process that is expected to conclude 10 to 12 weeks from now, according to the release.

“This is not the outcome that we had hoped for when we started our restructuring efforts,” said Russ Steinhorst, CEO. “We want to thank all of our teammates for their hard work and dedication during their time at Shopko.”

As for the optical business, Shopko had originally hoped to spin off the business into standalone locations, USA Today reports.

Now the optical business will be among the assets that Shopko seeks to liquidate, according to the newspaper.

WLUK-TV reports: “As of now, four Shopko optical locations will remain open until further evaluation: Mequon, Oshkosh, Waukesha and Omaha, Nebraska.”

In its Jan. 16 bankruptcy filing, Shopko reported having less than $1 billion in assets and between $1 billion and $10 billion in liabilities.

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Alcon Makes $285M Acquisition

It bought PowerVision Inc., a medical device development company.

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FORT WORTH, TX – Alcon announced that it has acquired PowerVision Inc., a privately held, U.S.-based medical device development company focused on creating fluid-based intraocular lens implants.

Alcon paid $285 million to PowerVision at closing, with additional payments to be made based on regulatory and commercial milestones starting in 2023, according to a press release from Alcon, a division of Novartis.

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The acquisition “furthers Alcon’s commitment to bring this innovative, accommodating lens to cataract patients throughout the world,” the release stated.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Commercial availability of PowerVision’s IOL technology will be determined following significant additional development and clinical trials of the intraocular lens, according to the release.

“As the industry leader in cataract surgery, we’re eager to accelerate development of this potentially breakthrough accommodating lens technology,” said Michael Onuscheck, president of Global Business and Innovation. “By treating cataracts and restoring natural, continuous range of vision, this intraocular lens may be the preferred IOL for cataract surgery patients who desire spectacle independence.”

PowerVision’s lens design utilizes the eye’s natural accommodating response to transport fluid in the intraocular lens which is implanted in the eye’s capsular bag.

While most presbyopia-correcting intraocular lenses use a multifocal design that distributes light between different focal points, PowerVision’s fluid-based design creates a continuously variable monofocal lens, utilizing the natural contraction of the eye’s muscles, according to the release. This technology allows the patient to actively focus on objects, just as the natural crystalline lens does in a youthful eye, providing patients with a natural, continuous range of vision.

“We’re thrilled to officially join Alcon and its pioneering history of launching new innovation in the field of ophthalmology,” said Barry Cheskin, president and CEO and co-founder of PowerVision. “We look forward to bringing this innovative IOL technology to eye care providers and customers in the years ahead.”

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