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A vision for success

Cyril Gabarretta. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Cyril Gabarretta. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Fifty years ago, Optika opened its first outlet in Sliema. Since then, our growth has always been based on the trust between our customers and staff, says Cyril Gabarretta, managing director, Optika.

What inspired you to open your first Optika outlet 50 years ago?

In 1965 my parents Paul and Rose and myself saw an opportunity in the market of optics which was relatively untapped at the time. After having undergone training as a dispensing optician in the UK, we opened the doors to Optika Sliema.

What growth have you achieved since then?

We have grown on a number of levels. We have expanded our business from the original Sliema branch to two other locations in Rabat and St Julian’s. Growth has also been achieved in terms of the products and services we provide moving into markets such as contact lenses in the late 1970s.

Despite the growth and the changing nature of business, what core values have you stayed faithful to?

We base our business on trust between our customers and our staff. By placing our customers’ needs first we aim to make the customer experience as pleasant as possible. A special mention goes to Optika’s manager Chris Sansone who has been with us for 40 years. I remember him starting off when he was barely 16 years old. He has a great relationship with our customers and is an indispensable asset to the business. Together with products ranging from the affordable to the high end, our customer service continues to be the foundation of Optika’s vision for success.

In the November 12, 1965 issue of the magazine The Optician, the Optika outlet in Sliema is described as “cosmopolitan” and “a break with established ideas”. How have you retained these qualities for half a century?

We have always kept an open mind. Since optics deals both with vision from a health and also from a fashion perspective, we constantly keep an eye out for new ideas, styles, trends and technologies.

Most of Malta’s businesses are family-owned. What advantages does this give to a company?

I believe that customers today look for that personal relationship. We have many loyal repeat customers who have been with us for many years. Different generations within a family come to our store hence the family-run element gives our firm a personal touch.

Repeat custom is essential to every business. How do you earn your customers’ trust?

Repeat custom is essential for a business to thrive. Customers nowadays demand the best quality. This, together with a good service, is the key to maintaining customer loyalty and competitive advantage. We are determined to see every customer leaving our store with a smile. Front line staff is what makes a business and we are glad to have trusted, unchanging and knowledgeable staff, some of whom have been with us for many years.

Family succession is key to the survival of family-owned businesses. Will the next Gabarretta generation also be involved in managing the company?

All my children are currently involved in the management of Optika. Both my sons Kerstein and Jerome have studied, graduated and worked in the UK as optometrists bringing their experience and knowledge to our firm. The boys together with my daughter Mireille also are involved in the day-to-day management of the business.

How will you be celebrating Optika’s 50th anniversary?

We will be celebrating by thanking our esteemed customers for their loyalty and support.

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