Eye Care Excellence
We are a unique and specialist organisation involved
in the optical industry with over 30 years of trading experience
Class Optical has become a familiar name in the optical industry in Malta, operating a specialist organisation committed to providing the full spectrum of optical products and services to the optical retail sector.
Class Optical is a specialist organisation operating within the optical industry serving the local market for over thirty years. It has developed a business network in the North African region, with export sales continuing to provide a strong area of growth for the company.
Class prides itself in its acquired competence offering a high quality product, representing an extensive portfolio spreading across optical frames and sunglasses under the Luxottica brand, contact lenses and lens care products and has been awarded distributorship for Zeiss optical lenses and Ray Ban presecription lenses (ROX). Such partnerships enable the company to distribute the finest frames and sunglasses from Ray-Ban to Vogue, Burberry and Bulgari to retailers all over Malta.
The company also operates its own fully-fledged optical laboratory in Malta, providing lens surfacing, tints & coats and edging services.
A Brief History
For over 35 years the Class Optical Group has been active in the manufacture, importation and retailing of contact and prescription lenses and spectacles in Malta. Among the founders of Class (Contact Lens Association) were two family-owned optical groups - Tuaco, formed in 1948, and Optika, set up a few years later in 1965.
The two directors, Robert Tua and Cyril Gabarretta, formed a consortium with other local opticians in 1983 to start manufacturing contact lenses and optical frames when the Malta government introduced import restrictions. Offices were acquired in the capital city - Valletta, and for the next 20 months the company supplied contact lenses and spectacles to the local market. In time all other shareholders were bought out so that the two family groups remained the sole shareholders.
A change of government policy no longer made local production viable. Class then started importing contact lenses and spectacle frames from large, multi-national suppliers into Malta, and in 1986 a trading department was opened. This enabled new lines of optical products to be distributed as well as other pharmaceutical products.
Prescription lenses were initially ordered overseas from an Italian firm, but by the mid ninety’s, Class set up its own prescription lens manufacturing facility and an optical edging laboratory. Since the two founding family groups had multiple retail outlets, Class was already the largest buying group in its field in Malta. The next step was to expand into wholesale, supplying similar retailers with contact lenses and lens care products, including local pharmacies. Within five years Class was meeting some 80% of Malta’s needs.
The ninety’s also saw the start of Class Optical Group’s very own chain of optical stores – Vision. This chain has since grown to include several outlets in various localities in Malta and Gozo.
Another venture developed focusing overseas, predominantly in North Africa. The current turmoil in the area has caused the company to scale back its operations. At its peak, this sector represented an estimated turnover of some 15% of total business, including the supply of sunglasses and optical frames. It still operates an outlet, a shop in shop, in Tripoli, Libya, in partnership with a Maltese company.
As the company approached its 30th anniversary in 2013, the two main directors, with the consent of the main shareholders, decided to gradually pass on leadership making way for a new phase in the company’s development. A non-family, non-executive Chairman was appointed and another non-family Chief Executive Officer has now taken over the company’s leadership and management operations.