Eric Anderson (l) and Jeff Fronterhouse

DALLAS—Riata Capital Group announced this morning that its portfolio company Acuity Eyecare Group has acquired two regional eyecare businesses (ABBA Eye Care in Colorado and EyeCare Specialties in Nebraska) that operate 18 locations overall. And, at the same time, Riata reported that funds and accounts advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management have made “a substantial equity investment in Acuity” to support its growth and expansion efforts. The J.P. Morgan investment “positions Riata to achieve its stated plan of building Acuity to 200-300 locations over a three-to-five-year period through the acquisition of additional regional eyecare groups and independent optometry practices,” the announcement noted.

Riata continues to be the controlling and sponsoring investor in Acuity, and the J.P. Morgan funds are co-investing in Acuity, a spokeswoman for Riata Capital told VMAIL.

The two deals Acuity announced this morning are for the acquisition of ABBA Eye Care, a Colorado Springs, Colo.-based company with 13 full-service optometry locations, and EyeCare Specialties, which is based in Lincoln, Neb., and operates five full-service optometry locations in Lincoln, Beatrice, and Fremont. The ABBA Eye Care offices are in Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Alamosa, Aurora, Fountain, Gunnison, La Junta, Lamar and Pagosa Springs, Colo. The terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Acuity now owns nearly 90 locations across eight states operating under 10 different local brands, as well as a large, full-service digital lab operation, The First Look Lab, outside of St. Louis. The company expects to exceed 100 locations by early 2019 based on other eyecare groups under letter of intent and its pipeline of prospects.

“We are very excited and privileged to add ABBA Eye Care and EyeCare Specialties to our growing Acuity family,” Acuity chief executive officer Eric Anderson said in the announcement. “Both brands share our values and core purpose as a caring community of local eyecare providers. These practices are a great fit for Acuity given their focus on patient care and full-scope optometry. We are very pleased to have received such positive response in the marketplace, as eyecare groups and their providers are enthusiastic about partnering with Acuity.”

Jeff Fronterhouse, a Riata Capital Group managing partner, said the firm is excited to have J.P. Morgan Asset Management become an equity partner in Acuity. “And the addition of ABBA Eye Care and EyeCare Specialties, two medically oriented optometry groups, is a terrific way to finish out a strong 2018 for Acuity Eyecare Group,” he added. “We look forward to continued growth and expansion in 2019.”

Riata has been active since late 2016, and has completed 11 acquisitions in the business services, consumer and health care services sectors, with several additional transactions in its pipeline, the announcement noted.

ABBA Eye Care, which was founded in 1978 by Marcus J. Meyer, OD, has grown from one office in Colorado Springs to 13 locations across the state. ABBA Eye Care’s practices include four locations in Colorado Springs and two in Pueblo. The practice is known for high-quality products, personalized service and advanced optical technology, according to today’s announcement. Services include comprehensive eye exams, dry eye treatment using the LipiFlow procedure, in-depth examinations of ocular structures and eye diseases, and Lasik consultations with pre-and post-operative laser vision care.

EyeCare Specialties, which was founded more than 20 years ago by optometrists Jim Devine, Brian Hinkley and James Kirchner, is a southeast Nebraska-based eyecare group with five full-service eyecare centers and a vision therapy clinic in Lincoln. EyeCare Specialties also has three eyecare locations in Lincoln. The practice is known for providing state-of-the-art optometric care and the best lifestyle choices in eyewear. Services include comprehensive eye health exams using the most technologically advanced instruments, vision therapy to address a variety of vision disorders, and dry eye treatment using the LipiFlow procedure.