A Note on our Founder Raymond Crofton
'A Hard Day's Night' - It's Aug 1964, The Beatles are at No 1 and a 22yr-old Raymond is in Spain checking his latest order with Indo.
"Although straight-talking and passionate about business, Raymond’s mischievous sense of humour was never far away. He once went around a bar trying to sell £1 notes for 50p"
A natural entrepreneur, Raymond started out in his father's company before spreading his wings as a young man and setting up the imaginatively entitled ''RayCroft'' in the early 1960's. His terrific flair and ingenuity – he was the very first person to import eyewear and lenses from Japan – led him to success and renown within the industry such that he accounted for over 10% of the market by the dawn of the 70's.
In the mid 60s Raymond was the first person to import frames from the Far East
After a period of retirement and much tennis playing, he bounded back into business with the aforementioned opticians on Tottenham Court Road: the 20/20 Optical Store (opened with his partner, Stephen Isaacs). Given his keen nose for a marketing angle, it wasn’t surprising that Raymond’s extensive ‘night owl’ campaign on London's Capital Radio attracted so much interest that 20/20 was soon the largest single optical practice in Europe – with ten fully-functioning testing rooms. Jai Kudo Lenses was to follow soon after.
Pictured in the mid 80s after someone had teased him about his love of lobster
Although straight-talking and passionate about business, Raymond’s mischievous sense of humour was never far away. He once went around a bar trying to sell £1 notes for 50p; he also opened a bank account for his dog, Monty, into which he paid Monty’s pocket-money; and on another occasion he put his good friend Melvyn's house up for sale (without the latter's knowledge, naturally).
Sadly, in January of 2013 Raymond passed away following a brave battle with cancer. He is greatly missed by us all in the Jai Kudo family and the optical industry at large. He was a true character, the like of which can light up the world around them.
Above all, Raymond was a man of his word from an era when business could be settled with a handshake. He greatly valued his reputation and would bend over backwards to ensure that his customers – both large and small – were receiving the very best value and service. I’m pleased to say that Raymond’s high standards are being carried on by us all here at Jai Kudo Lenses, including his wife, Jacqueline, our majority shareholder.
Raymond and wife Jacqueline in Osaka meeting with suppliers and enjoying the local cuisine. In the 1970’s it wasn’t uncommon for a single model designed and distributed by RayCroft to sell in excess of 150,000 pieces in the UK (one even reached 500,000).