As part of our In Profile series we speak to some of the people behind Marylebone’s best known businesses. To begin the series, we talk to independent optician, Royal Warrant Holder and Marylebone veteran of 25 years, Roger Pope.
What does the Royal Warrant mean to you?
“By Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen” demonstrates that we have reached a level of excellence. We provided spectacles to Her Majesty for a period of time and were then invited to apply for a Royal Warrant of appointment. I have had the Royal Warrant for some years. It is given to me as an individual and the application is renewed every five years. It is a real honour.
Do you deal with any other members of the royal family?
Yes, we do, and we are respected for our discretion.
How often do you see the Queen for an appointment?
How often we visit the Queen for an appointment depends on any changes in her prescription, and the need for new frames or replacement lenses.
Our customers vary enormously and range from business professionals, members of the media, politicians and lawyers, overseas customers, people with difficult prescriptions and people who live and work in town.
Our diverse clientele means that we carry an extensive selection of eyewear – plenty of designer label, genuine vintage, rimless, titanium, sold gold, and more affordable choices. Bubble gum pink through to more somber tones are all part of the varied offering of eyewear.
Business has been excellent this year and I would like to think that’s it’s due to superior service and the good technical skills within the practice.
Do you have any celebrity clients?
We have many famous customers and we respect their privacy. We’ve seen various prime ministers and we see captains of industry and an array of influential, high profile personalities. It’s our 25th anniversary this year and we’ll hold a party towards the end of the year. We also celebrated by being part of the Coronation Festival Event at Buckingham Palace this year.
Describe your favourite place in London. What do you like most about it?
I love Marylebone. As an area it is fascinating because it has been revived and undertaken so many changes since I’ve worked in the area. Marylebone High Street was in a really poor state about 15 years ago before the landlord – Howard de Walden Estates – made a conscious effort to improve the whole area and High Street. They encouraged independent businesses, rather then all the main chains to the area and it has been reinvented. We’ve obviously benefitted enormously. I also really like Dulwich Village in South London, where we have another practice.
Describe your practice
After working in London’s Harley St area, I opened my own practice 25 years ago, dispensing prescriptions from the leading local ophthalmologists. We have an excellent team who understand our clientele. We encourage individual opticians to build personal relationships with clients, allowing patients to feel comfortable with the knowledge that their optician knows their optical history. We have a very loyal staff, many of whom have been with me for up to 15 years.
The cabinets within the practice are Edwardian and were used to display medical instruments. Once we moved to these premises we wanted everything to match, so we had furniture built to complement the beautiful original cabinets.
We have tried to create a unique atmosphere combining the best characteristics of a traditional high quality showroom but with a modern orientated service approach.
Working in central London gives you ultimate job satisfaction as it delivers a very diverse range of clients who all receive excellent freedom of choice and customer service. Customers can have their lenses and frames fitted correctly within the practice and they enjoy the expert advice and huge selection of frames and lenses on offer. It’s because of this that customers come to us – we may not be the lowest in price but we have frames and lenses at different price points and we are experts in our field, offering unrivalled service.
Trends are ever changing, so that has a huge impact on my job as many of our clients want to look stylish and fashionable. Spectacles are an easy way to express personal style. Currently we have a resurgence of the retro look and these styles are extremely successful amongst our clientele. We also follow trends with our windows and they are very effective in attracting customers. Our vintage window was a big success and brought a lot of interest. We often dress the windows ourselves but we also mix it up with branded windows, with the likes of Silhouette, Rodenstock, Porsche Design, Chanel supplying displays, which work very well. We need to keep our windows looking fresh and enticing.