Grant Welsh (31), who was born in Guidepost and brought up in Bedlington, is returning to the North East to start up Specsavers’ newest store in the region on Bondgate Within, Alnwick.
Grant (31) has worked in optics since leaving St Benet Biscop School in Bedlington in 2002. He gained a broad range of experience working in and managing stores for other opticians before joining Specsavers in Chatham, Kent, as laboratory manager in 2010.
Here he was responsible initially for unifying laboratory support for three stores and then grew capacity to provide glazing services to 15 stores, making it one of the largest optical glazing labs in the UK.
Keen to progress and open his own store, Grant entered Specsavers’ Pathway programme which is the process through which suitable candidates become Specsavers’ joint venture partners and are eligible to become directors of their own stores. He completed the programme in 2016 and was accepted to launch Alnwick store in 2017.
Grant’s return back to his home county will see his family; fiancée Leigh McManus, daughter Hallie and his parents, making the move north also. Leigh is a qualified optical dispenser and will work alongside Grant in the Alnwick store where she will be head of dispensing.
The new enterprise will create 10 jobs initially, three of which are brand new, with all of the team coming from the North East.
Grant said: ’I am absolutely delighted to be returning to the North East with Leigh, Hallie and my parents. It feels a real privilege to have the opportunity to do the job I love, in the place I love, supported by the people I love.’
Grant has joined forces with existing directors Ross Jennings and David Rose, who also own the Morpeth and Stockton stores, and together the three have taken on one of the most prominent retail sites on Bondgate Within in Alnwick.
More about the new store
Originally home to the printing presses of the Alnwick Mercury, predecessor of the Northumberland Gazette set up by William Davison in 1854, the shop has lain empty since 2013 following the closure of gift retailer, Collectables.
Grant explained further: ‘We’re really proud to have been able to take on this shop which is of such historical importance to Alnwick.
'Before becoming a newspaper publisher, William Davison was a pharmacist and an entrepreneur, so I hope he’d approve of my commitment to running my own business through bringing an international brand to Alnwick’s high street and to the huge investment we’ve put in to restoring the building and setting up the store.
‘I’m really looking forward to welcoming old friends and new and to showing them what we have to offer here; we have high-precision hospital-grade testing equipment, our optometrists are trained to the highest standards and we offer exceptional value on a massive range of fashionable frames for all ages.
'And, even if you don’t wear glasses it’s a good idea to have a regular eye check just to maintain eye health – everyone’s eyes are a really good indicator of overall healthiness. So do come and take a look in, we’ll be delighted to see you.’