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Dame Mary Perkins
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Co-Founder and Board DirectorSpecsavers
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Co-founder Bebbington & Perkins Opticians

I set up this optical company with my husband after we graduated as optometrists from university. My father was a very well-known and respected optometrist in Bristol and I used to help him out when I was growing up. When he retired my husband and I took over his business and set up Bebbington (my maiden name) & Perkins. Being my own boss meant I was able to adapt working life to fit in with the needs of raising a young family and make quick decisions for the benefit of the business.

Co-Founder and Board Director

I set up Specsavers in 1984 and today, with other board members, I assist in running a large global optical retail company which also sells glasses, contact lenses and hearing aids and looks after eye health. It was always my mission to transform the optical industry and make fashionable eyewear affordable for everyone.

Having built up a successful optical business in the West Country with my husband Doug, we sold up in 1980 and moved to Guernsey to be close to my retired and elderly parents.

It gave us the opportunity to research our next move at a time when government changes enabled us to advertise our optical goods and services in a much more customer-focused way. And so we opened our first Specsavers stores in the UK in 1984.

I enjoy the people and the variety of my job- one day I can be meeting young apprentices, who are just starting out on their careers and are full of the passion that also inspired me to set up Specsavers, and the next touring the Hearing Dogs for Deaf People centre and cradling a gorgeous puppy in my arms - we do a lot to support a whole range of charities. We never stand still and every day is exciting.


Throughout my life, my mantra has been to treat others as you wish to be treated yourself. This is our company philosophy and defines our values as a business. I truly believe in putting the customer first - that is what we are there for - to supply them with the service and product they need to make their lives better. Kindness and empathy go a long way in business. Also, don't try to be all things - it is impossible to be good at everything so focus on what you are good at and leave the rest to the experts - you're only ever as successful as the team around you.

My Education
Visual science/optometry (Degree (without Honours))
Cardiff University
Cardiff, Wales
Mathematics, Physics, Pure mathematicsĀ 
Fairfield Grammar school, Bristol
More about me

My father was an optometrist and I always wanted to follow in his very respected footsteps.

I would tell my physics teacher that women were just as entitled to study science and perhaps he wouldn't have felt the need to resign!

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