Memira has in total over 50 clinics in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany. During February-March 2013 the company will open two clinics in Vaasa and Turku on the west coast of Finland.
“Correcting vision with eye surgery is becoming more common and more accepted each year. Even though around 15,000 laser operations are currently performed in Finland every year, the potential is still enormous,” says Michael Lagerbäck, Managing Director of Memira in Sweden and Finland.
Age old problems offer huge potential
“The market in Finland appears very attractive for us. Over 70 % of Finns wear glasses, which means that around 3.7 million people have some kind of visual impairment, and 99 % of people over 50 years old use glasses. So there is a huge potential in correcting age-related visual problems with surgery.”
Memira sees the greatest potential in Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE). This is a treatment that involves replacing the eye's natural lens with an advanced artificial multifocal lens. The multifocal lens corrects both far and near vision as well as astigmatism and gives patients over 45 the freedom to live and work without being dependent on progressive or reading glasses
“Since 2007, Memira has treated more than 25,000 people with multifocal lenses. We have more experience than any other company in Europe in this field. RLE is totally new in Finland and now we can offer also that solution to Finnish customers in addition to the advanced FS laser technology we also provide,” Lagerbäck states.
Finland – a natural step
Memira operates in all the Scandinavian countries so it was a natural step to come to Finland and become a truly Nordic provider of refractive surgery. According to Mr. Lagerbäck, it was only a matter of time.
“There are lots of similarities in terms of consumer behavior and business culture between our existing markets and Finland which made launching in Finland a natural next step for us. We see Finland as a safe investment environment where the prospects for refractive surgery are significant.”
Lagerbäck reveals that Memira made the decision to come to Finland at the end of 2011 after the Swedish Trade Council had carried out studies of the Finnish market for them. The results were encouraging and the company decided to recruit a Finnish-speaking sales and marketing manager in January 2012. Later in 2012, Invest in Finland contacted Memira and they had their first meeting in Stockholm.
“We have had a very positive experience with Invest in Finland. The staff has helped us with everything, from recruiting to finding the right premises and contacts. They also assisted us with adapting our clinical application which was a necessity to start up our business in Finland. When starting a business abroad you need somebody locally on the ground and Invest In Finland was that somebody.”
“Invest in Finland´s support has been of great value to us and we could not have entered the Finnish market as fast or with as much confidence without their expertise and support. The way Invest in Finland works is in our experience straight forward and very reliable,” Lagerbäck says with gratitude.
Clinics in Turku and Vaasa
There are a few reasons why the company chose to open the clinics in Vaasa and Turku to start with.
“We did a study which showed that there is a good business climate - the west coast area has a strong economy and there are good connections with Stockholm. A decisive factor was also the large bilingual Finnish-Swedish population.”
“It takes several months to train new personnel and it is very important that it is in a language that you understand well. The training takes place in Stockholm and is in Swedish so we initially need staff who can speak both Finnish and Swedish,” Lagerbäck explains.
About the future he says that Memira will continue to expand in Finland after they have gained more experience and learnt more about the Finnish market. Memira plans to have a nationwide network of clinics in three years.