Another Award as Zabir Ali wins the Allica Bank Retail Entrepreneur of the Year 2023

Zabir Ali Triumphs at The Allica Bank Great British Entrepreneur Awards!

On the 21st of November 2023. Zabir Ali, founder of Wessex Optical was awarded South West Retail Entrepreneur of the year at The Allica Bank Great British Entrepreneur Awards.
Recognised annually as one of the most prestigious accolades in the entrepreneurial world, The Allica Bank Great British Entrepreneur Awards which received over 5,000 applications this year alone.
A Triumph in a Highly Competitive Field, and following on from a nomination in 2022 Zabir clinched this award in which making the shortlist is an achievement in its own right, given the calibre of competition. This success underlines the significance of Zabir and Wessex Optical’s win.
Previous winner James Watt, founder of BrewDog, said that winning was “better than winning the World Cup.” with ‘Diary of a CEO’s Steven Bartlett going as far as to dub the awards as “The Grammys of Entrepreneurship,” highlighting the glamour and prestige associated with the event.

Francesca James, founder of The Allica Bank Great British Entrepreneur Awards, said:
“I am thrilled to witness the extraordinary achievements of this year’s winners. Their
success stories are a testament to the dynamic and innovative spirit that thrives within
UK entrepreneurship. These inspiring entrepreneurs embody the creativity, determination,
and passion that are at the heart of our nation’s business success. Their
accomplishments not only celebrate their own journeys but also light the way for future
generations of innovators and business leaders”.
Richard Davies, CEO of Allica Bank, commented:
“It has been a real honour to sponsor this year’s GBEA awards. Hearing the inspiring stories
from this year’s winners really brings to life the important contribution British entrepreneurs
make to our economy. At Allica, we couldn’t be more excited to see such a talented group of
individuals making their mark in the business world and we’ll be keeping a close eye on what
they do next.”

About Wessex Optical
Wessex Optical is a franchise of Boots Opticians, with 7 practices in Dorset, Southampton and Staffordshire. Established in 2012 by first generation entrepreneur Zabir Ali, the group has been exceptionally successful, with multiple award nominations and wins, all the while providing excellent clinical results and patient care.
About The Allica Bank Great British Entrepreneur Awards
The Allica Bank Great British Entrepreneur Awards celebrate and champion
entrepreneurs across the UK, building communities to support their endeavours
at various stages of their journey.
With stiff competition and a history of recognising businesses that become
household names, the awards are a beacon of excellence in the entrepreneurial
landscape.

Zabir Ali recognised as One to Watch in The LDC Top 50 Most Ambitious Business Leaders for 2023

Zabir Ali, Managing Director of Wessex Optical has been named One to Watch in The LDC Top 50 Most Ambitious Business Leaders 2023.

Created by trusted investment partner LDC – part of Lloyds Banking Group, and supported by The Times, The LDC Top 50 champions the business leaders who are pushing for growth and building successful medium-sized businesses. 

This year’s nominations were of an exceptionally high calibre and the competition was fierce, showcasing the drive and determination that unites business leaders across the UK.

The leaders featured in The LDC Top 50 are growing their businesses at home and overseas, making a positive contribution to society and driving progress against their sustainability goals. They hail from every corner of the UK and span every sector of the economy. Together, they employ more than 6,700 people and turn over more than £1.2bn. 

The Ones to Watch are leaders making great strides and growing their businesses. They are excelling in their industries and making a positive impact on customers and employees, yet still show so much potential for future growth.

Wessex Optical is a leading optical company and franchise owner of seven Boots Opticians practices in Bournemouth, Lymington, New Milton, Romsey, Uttoxeter, Weymouth and Wimborne. The company was established in 2012 by Zabir Ali, a qualified Optometrist with the aim to create not only Optician Practices but Centres of Excellence for Eyecare, offering levels of care/treatment traditionally only available in hospitals, reducing demand on NHS service.

Zabir Ali, Managing Director of Wessex Optical said: My ambition is to combine premium, service-led retail with everyday and specialist healthcare services, meeting the needs of the communities and accessible on the high street.

John Garner, Managing Partner at LDC, said: 

“We started The LDC Top 50 six years ago to champion the remarkable success stories of medium-sized businesses, the unsung heroes of the British economy. Since then, we’ve received more than 3,000 nominations and celebrated more than 500 business leaders through the programme, surpassing all our expectations. The stories behind this year’s Ones to Watch really captured our attention and I’d like to congratulate them on their achievements so far. We’ve no doubt that this is only the beginning for each and every one of them!”

Congratulations Zabir for this incredible achievement!

You can find out more information on this year’s LDC Top 50 Most Ambitious Business Leaders programme here: https://bit.ly/3Fl3KWN

Romsey Opticians Help to Spot Tumour during Eye Exam

Unlocking the Potential of OCT Scans: A Life-Saving Story from a Romsey Beautician
Discover the life-changing benefits of OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography) scans through the inspiring journey of Katie Dunn, a 30-year-old beautician from Romsey. Her remarkable experience sheds light on the incredible capabilities of OCT scans in early detection, ultimately saving her life.
Katie’s journey began with a simple routine eye test at Boots Opticians in Romsey, a Practice in the Wessex Optical Franchise, an eye exam that proved to be nothing short of miraculous. During the test, an anomaly was noticed in both of her eyes, prompting immediate action. She was referred for an MRI scan at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, a decision that would change her life forever.
The results of the scan revealed a substantial tumour in her brain. It was a moment that marked the onset of a brave battle against this formidable adversary. Over the course of the past year, Katie underwent not one but two surgeries to address the issue. In December of the previous year, she opted for fertility preservation as she prepared for radiotherapy.
Katie’s gratitude for the OCT scan is palpable as she reflects on her journey:

“I genuinely believe that the eye test saved my life and preserved my eyesight. If left undiscovered for longer, I could have faced complete vision loss due to the pressure on my optic nerve.”


The type of tumour Katie was diagnosed with is known for its slow growth, suggesting that it might have been silently developing for years. Left undetected, it could have given rise to numerous life-altering and life-threatening issues. For Katie, her eyesight isn’t just a matter of personal comfort—it’s integral to her profession and her independence, given her reliance on it for driving.


Today, Katie continues to be monitored with regular scans, and the value of early detection through OCT technology becomes increasingly evident. She acknowledges the challenges she has faced during her journey, such as hair loss from radiotherapy and the ongoing recovery of her nose and throat following surgery, but she remains resolute and thankful.


Katie’s story stands as a powerful testament to the incredible potential of OCT scans in preserving not only eye health but overall well-being. Her journey underscores the significance of routine OCT scans in unearthing potential health threats before they escalate. In essence, it showcases that sometimes, the most extraordinary stories of resilience emerge from the most ordinary moments in life, such as a routine eye test empowered by advanced OCT technology.

Well done to our team in Romsey, and best of luck to Katie through her journey.

Talk to one of our team about the OCT scan, and book for an eye test:

Weymouth: 16 St Mary’s Street, DT4 8PB | 01305 750936

New Milton: 20A Station Road, BH25 6JX | 01425 629827

Romsey: 3-5 The Hundred, SO51 8DG | 017945 13258

Wimborne: 1 The Square, BH21 1JA | 01202 887081

Lymington, 52D High St, SO41 9AG | 01590 671655

Driving safely in the dark with poor vision

Driving safely in the dark becomes more difficult for a lot of people in winter. In the dark, our eyes need to quickly adjust from the road to our side view mirrors or dashboard. And not forgetting the extra glare from car headlights. If you have poor vision and wear glasses, simply being a careful driver may not be enough to keep you feeling comfortable behind the wheel this winter.

A solution to driving in the dark with poor vision

Drivers have a lot of needs when it comes to driving safely in the dark, and with the sun setting earlier, a larger number of commuters are having to travel in almost pitch black. Normal lenses are not providing enough support, but with the ZEISS DriveSafe Individual Lenses, drivers can be assured with more confidence that their glasses will do what they need.

The lenses have been created with technology that makes them perfect for anyone driving in the evenings with poor lighting, but particularly for those who have a difficulty adjusting their eyes to low-lighting areas and glare from car headlights.

These lenses make use of the ZEISS DuraVision DriveSafe UV coating that allows drivers to have better visibility on the roads. Not only do they feature this anti-glare coating, but they use the Luminance Design Technology by ZEISS to help drivers have higher visibility when driving in poor lighting or bad weather conditions.

The benefits to drivers

The ZEISS lenses have been designed with a technology that considers the size of the pupil, and therefore provides better sight when in difficult vision situations. The ZEISS DriveSafe Individual Lenses also consider multifocal drivers who may face issues with their eyes swiftly adjusting from the road to side mirrors and the dashboard. To manage this, the lenses have optimised distance and intermediate viewing zones, which reduces the need for horizontal head movement.

Drive safely while keeping your style…

Driving safely in the dark does not mean that you must compromise your style and choice of glasses. With the ZEISS DriveSafe Individual lenses, you have a choice of any design of glasses frames and shapes to suit you and your fashion sense. And, with Boots Opticians’ wide range of glasses and styles to suit all face shapes, there is a pair for everyone to love, whilst driving safely in the dark.

If you want to explore driving safer with ZEISS DriveSafe Individual Lenses, contact your local Boots Opticians store or visit https://www.boots.com/zeiss/zeiss-drivesafe-lenses …

Weymouth: 16 St Mary’s Street, DT4 8PB | 01305 750936

New Milton: 20A Station Road, BH25 6JX | 01425 629827

Romsey: 3-5 The Hundred, SO51 8DG | 017945 13258

Wimborne: 1 The Square, BH21 1JA | 01202 887081

Lymington, 52D High St, SO41 9AG | 01590 671655

How eye tests can spot diabetes

Diabetic eye diseases are one of the leading causes of blindness across the world and often have no early warning signs. Regular eye tests can spot these issues as soon as they present themselves. Early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up care are the only ways to prevent vision loss.

Keeping on top of your eye tests

Getting your eyes regularly tested is a great way to keep on top of your eye health and be one step ahead of any issues that may arise. These frequent checks allow our optometrists to spot changes to the makeup of your eye so we can take action as soon as possible.

At our practices, we offer a range of different eye tests and checks to suit you, depending on what you’re after. You can book; a regular eye test, a contact lens check, a combination of both, or an eye test with a free contact lens trial and assessment*.

Diabetes and the eyes

For those who are unfamiliar, diabetes (T1) is a lifelong condition that causes an individual’s blood glucose to become too high, often resulting in higher blood pressure levels. Having high blood sugar and pressure levels in turn can cause serious damage to the blood vessels, narrowing them, rupturing them, or even causing them to leak.

Unknown to most, diabetic people’s eyes and eyesight are often heavily impacted. This is because blood vessels are a very important part of the eye, responsible for supplying blood to the light-sensitive retina. So when these blood vessels are damaged, the retina cannot get the full blood supply it relies on, and as a result, cannot work in the way that it should, leading to diabetic retinopathy and blindness if left undiagnosed and untreated.

So how can we spot it?

Diabetic retinopathy can cause a lot of changes to occur in your eyes, so through our testing and photographing, we are able to capture these changes and take any actions we need to further prevent any damage.

Eye drops are first used to help dilate your pupils and give us a clearer vision of the eye. From there, by taking a digital photo of the back of your eye with a retinal camera, we can get a high-quality image of your eye, vessels and all, which is then sent off for examination. Specialists can then compare your eyes and point out any abnormalities, areas for concern, or noticeable issues.

If some issues are picked up while carefully reviewing the images of your eyes, you will then be referred to an eye specialist doctor for further support. In most cases, the majority of these changes are treatable, and potentially reversible if picked up early.

Next steps…

Keeping your eyes healthy and having regular eye tests are important in not only preventing these issues in the first place but in helping keep them from getting worse if they’ve already surfaced – especially if there is a family history of diabetes or eye-related illnesses.

The NHS recommends that adults get their eyes checked once every 2 years, and once a year for those with diabetes. If you’re looking to get your eyes checked, then book an eye test today by getting in touch with your local store…

Weymouth: 16 St Mary’s Street, DT4 8PB | 01305 750936

New Milton: 20A Station Road, BH25 6JX | 01425 629827

Romsey: 3-5 The Hundred, SO51 8DG | 017945 13258

Wimborne: 1 The Square, BH21 1JA | 01202 887081

Lymington, 52D High St, SO41 9AG | 01590 671655

*We do NOT offer Diabetic retinopathy in our stores, this blog is intended as an educational source. If you are looking to have a Diabetic retinopathy service, please get in touch with your GP for the next steps.

Successful Expansion, Exciting New Practice Opens in Lymington

Wessex Optical, a franchise partner of Boots Opticians with locations in Dorset and Hampshire, is thrilled to announce the grand opening of its sixth branch. Situated in Lymington, this new practice is the largest in Wessex Optical’s history, boasting an expansive 4,000 square feet of space, complete with five rooms and a dedicated hearing care area.
The Lymington practice is all set to provide a wide range of testing and diagnostic services through multiple specialized clinics. This includes comprehensive eye examinations, expertly fitted contact lenses, post-care appointments, assessments, and treatments for dry eye conditions, as well as audiology services.
What sets this practice apart is its commitment to accessibility, offering services seven days a week, while also contributing to the local job market by creating 11 employment opportunities within the town.
The impressive expansion of the Lymington practice was made possible through a generous funding infusion of £500,000 from Lloyds Bank. This strategic investment is anticipated to substantially boost the business’s annual turnover from £4.5 million to an impressive £7 million.


Zabir Ali, the founder and owner of Wessex Optical, expressed his enthusiasm for this significant milestone, stating;

“We are thrilled to extend our presence into Lymington, marking our second new branch this year.”


He went on to emphasize the practice’s commitment to becoming an integral part of the local community, fostering the prosperity of the High Street, and, most importantly, enhancing the eye health of Lymington’s residents and those in the surrounding areas.
Zabir Ali also shed light on the practice’s focus on investing in cutting-edge optical testing, diagnostic, and treatment technologies. He explained, “With NHS services still in recovery mode post-pandemic, offering alternative specialist services on our High Streets is not only providing a vital service to communities but also alleviating pressure on the health service.”


As Wessex Optical expands to its largest site to date, Ali reflected on the journey, saying;

“Opening our biggest site yet hasn’t been without its challenges, but we are delighted with the results, which will make it easy for people in Lymington to take good care of their eye health, and, with a fantastic range of frames to choose from, look and feel great too.

Visit our Lymington Practice:

Lymington, 52D High St, SO41 9AG | 01590 671655

Here comes the sun! Are your eyes ready?

Just as the first blossoms are a marker that Spring is on its way, the first sign of summer is sunglasses, appearing on faces everywhere!

While we certainly want to look and feel good in them, sunglasses are much more than fashion accessories – they are vital to keep your eyes healthy and protected from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

We are all familiar with the danger of sun damage to our skin, and slather our children and ourselves in sun lotion for protection – but did you know those same UV rays can also cause irreversible damage to our eyes?

UV radiation can lead to cataracts and in some cases, photokeratitis – a painful, temporary eye condition caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays, sometimes compared to a sunburn, but affecting your corneas rather than your skin. Long-term exposure to violet and blue portions of the solar spectrum can also increase the risk of macular degeneration too.

Wearing sunglasses will also cut your risk of developing skin cancer in the sensitive eye area, which is far harder to protect with sun lotion, as well as making it far more comfortable to be outside during the summer months.

However, if you already wear prescription glasses, it needn’t be much more complicated to get a pair of sunglasses with prescription lenses – just call or pop in.

Wessex Optical has practices at key locations across Hampshire and Dorset – Bournemouth Wallisdown, New Milton, Weymouth, Wimborne, Lymington (coming soon) and newly opened Romsey.

Our experienced Optometrists can get you tested and fitted for sunglasses as well regular glasses, ensuring you have clear vision and the right protection too. 

So why not make an appointment in one of our friendly, welcoming practices now, so you’re ready to enjoy the sunshine – whenever it appears!

Contact us at Boots Opticians – 

Wallisdown – 01202 515024

New Milton – 01425 629827

Weymouth – 01305 750 936

Wimborne – 01202 887081

Romsey – 01794 513258

New opticians celebrates successful start to life in Romsey town centre

The MP for Romsey and Southampton North cut the ribbon at the celebratory event at the practice on Thursday, February 24, meeting with James Arrow, Managing Director for Boots Opticians, and Director of Wessex Optical Zabir Ali, the franchise owner.

Zabir Ali of Wessex Optical said:

“We are so excited to expand into Romsey and have been delighted by the warm welcome received from the community. It hasn’t been an easy time for town centres, but we hope new services such as ours will have a part to play in bringing people back to the high street.

“The event this week has been an opportunity to celebrate our arrival, our fantastic patients, and all that we have to look forward to. To have our local MP Caroline Nokes share this moment with us is an honour and a pleasure.”

The new opticians, the fifth branch for Hampshire-based Wessex Optical, opened at 3-5 The Hundred in November, and has already taken on the eye care needs for thousands of local residents.

With a multi-disciplinary team of 20, including 6 Optometrists, the new practice offers eye tests, contact lens fitting and aftercare appointments, as well as ophthalmology treatments. The state-of-the-art centre also offers one of the only opticians in the South of England to partner Optometrists and Ophthalmologists under the same roof to the benefit of all its patients.

Sapphire Eye Care Ltd, who now partner with Boots Opticians in Romsey, offer world class diagnostic and private consultation services with some of the best surgeons in the south of England. Jonathan Husband, MD of Sapphire Eye Care Ltd says:

“We’re delighted to be working alongside Boots Opticians in the South. Providing private Cataract services in a world class facility will only benefit the community of Romsey and beyond. There will be Consultant surgeons available most days to see patients with any serious eye concerns they may have.”

The spacious 3,500 sq ft branch has ample room to run such specialist treatment clinics using the latest advanced facilities and equipment. From its town centre shop, Boots Romsey can offer a wide range of eyewear choices including designer and high fashion frames displayed in the retail area.

Zabir Ali adds: 

“We are passionate about meeting the needs of this community, bringing not only futuristic vision tests and eye health assessments, but bringing hospital-led services into the community as well as private eye care.”

“With hospital eye care services more stretched than ever, being able to offer patients more of what they need on the high street is a big win for them, and for the NHS too.

“We want to make it easy for people to take care of their eye health, and with a fantastic range of frames to choose from, they can look and feel great too.”Wessex Optical, which has its headquarters in Wimborne, has practices in Bournemouth, New Milton, Weymouth, and Wimborne. It purchased the Romsey location last year, opening the new branch in January.

Meet the Founder – Zabir Ali

Zabir Ali is Founder and Managing Director of Wessex Optical. He grew up in a traditional Pakistani family in Birmingham where he attended the local comprehensive, before studying Optometry at Aston University. He qualified in 2008. He immediately joined Boots Opticians, gaining experience in various stores. Passionate about his work, Zabir envisaged creating a different kind of opticians offering a whole range of specialist eye-care accessible under one, high-street roof. In 2012, With backing from Lloyds Bank and investing his own savings, at aged just 26, Zabir took on his first franchise: Boots Opticians New Milton, Hampshire. Ten years on, Zabir is the award-winning franchise-holder of five  Boots Opticians across Hampshire and Dorset with a sixth due to open this year. And whilst building up his award-winning business, somehow, along the way, in 2021, he found time to complete his independent prescribing masters. Not bad for a working class lad from Birmingham.

“…the best care, consideration and professional service I’ve ever had at an opticians – above and beyond what I expected.”

Sue Saddington, 29.10.21 
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