July 2, 2012, 10:30 AM

A health insurer gets into e-commerce

WellPoint Inc. acquires 1-800 Contacts and Glasses.com.

Zak Stambor

Managing Editor

Lead Photo

Health insurer WellPoint Inc. last month announced plans to acquire online-only eyewear retailer 1-800 Contacts Inc., which also operates e-commerce site Glasses.com.

The companies did not disclose the terms of the deal, but WellPoint said it will finance the acquisition with cash on hand. The deal is expected to close during the third quarter.

The move is aimed at using e-commerce to help diversify WellPoint's portfolio.

"This acquisition strategically aligns with our efforts to capitalize on new opportunities for growth, and further diversifies the company's revenue stream into the complementary and higher-margin eyewear business," says Angela Braly, WellPoint president and CEO.

1-800 Contacts had an Internet Retailer-estimated $332 million in sales last year, an 18.6% jump from an estimated $280 million a year earlier. Braly says the online retailer has ample room to grow, pointing to the number of customers the e-retailer serves. 1-800 Contacts has 3.3 million customers, she says, yet more than 38 million Americans wear contacts and more than 140 million wear glasses.

zak@verticalwebmedia.com

@ZakStamborIR

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