GrandVision, the owner of eyewear chains Pearle and Eye Wish, had a decent quarter considering the circumstances. For the year as a whole, however, the group had to swallow a substantial decline in sales.
GrandVision had already made a strong recovery in the third quarter, after losing more than a quarter of its sales in the first half of the year. The Dutch optical group continued this recovery in the fourth quarter, albeit with a slowdown due to the outbreak of the second corona wave: ultimately, sales rose 0.8% in the past three months on a like-for-like basis, the group reported in a trading update.
By the end of 2020, 98.5% of the store network was open, as optics are considered 'essential' almost everywhere. The new lockdowns in various countries had a major impact on high street traffic, but were offset by shoppers' willingness to buy. In addition, the group benefited from various support measures, including in the United Kingdom and Italy.
Uncertainty continues to weigh
In the full-year 2020, sales fell by 14.1% on a like-for-like basis, reflecting the weak first half of the year. On the other hand, total e-commerce sales grew by 85%: the retail brands even saw their online revenues more than double. Acquisitions made in 2019, including Optica2000 in Spain and McOptic in Switzerland, grew by 1.4%. For the full year, GrandVision expects an adjusted EBITA margin of around 7.5%.
The optics group is not venturing into forecasts for 2021, due to the high level of uncertainty that currently exists. The company does assume that the slowdown in growth will continue at least in the first quarter of the new year.