The move will stiffen competition for the islands’ two existing eye care outlets, Kelly’s Opticians and Miller Opticians. Specsavers has been a frequent visitor to Shetland with its mobile service in recent years.
The premises at 108 Commercial Street in Lerwick has been for sale since it ceased to trade as a music shop last autumn.
In response to an enquiry from The Shetland Times, a Specsavers spokesman confirmed that it hopes to reopen the store as an opticians by the end of the year.
The spokesman said the shop, which has a floor area of roughly 2,000 square feet, would employ up to six staff and would bring “professional and affordable eye care to Lerwick with complete glasses starting from £25 [and] a choice of more than 1,000 frames”.
“We have been committed to serving the Highlands and Islands for some years with a mobile service and have been looking for the right opportunity to open a permanent store,” he added.
Joint owner of the shop Clive Munro confirmed the money was due to change hands on Friday. Because the sale was being made to a Glaswegian property development company which had not indicated what firm it was acting on behalf of, Mr Munro said he had been unaware that Specsavers was the interested party.
He said he was “glad to get rid of it” on a personal level to allow him to move on because every time he walked past the shop, which he had put more than three decades of work into, he did so with “a bit of a heavy heart”.
Although he had wished that a small grocer might have taken on the premises, Mr Munro said he hoped the sale would “maybe liven up the street a bit”.
The premises had been offered for sale alone or combined with the former Ninian shop next door, but Mr Munro is trying to lease the latter out separately and it will not form part of the sale to Specsavers.
The company has applied to the SIC for a building warrant to fit out the shop as a Specsavers outlet. It is also seeking planning permission to install three non-illuminated signs on the building.