New Look Vision Reports Q1 Sales Decline, But Says Store Reopenings Are Underway and New Financing Arrangement Is in Place

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MONTREAL—New Look Vision Group Inc. (TSX: BCI), a leader in the Canadian optical sector with 393 stores across Canada and Florida, reported this week that its first-quarter sales declined 4.8 percent to $68 million, a result it attributed to COVID-19 temporary store closures, as well as scheduled store closures offset by revenue from newly acquired stores. Comparable-store sales orders were down by 14.3 percent, compared with last year, but comparable-store results had risen 2.1 percent at the end of February 2020, pre-COVID-19.

Adjusted EBITDA reached $15.4 million, an increase of $3.5 million or 29.6 percent, in the 13-week period ended March 28. The net loss attributed to shareholders was $0.3 million, a decrease of 115.3 percent over last year, mainly driven by the temporary closure of the majority of the company’s stores during the last two weeks of March and the impact of IFRS 16, the announcement noted.

New Look said it began a gradual store reopening effort on May 4 in line with local and professional regulations. Ahead of reopening stores, the company issued stringent health and safety procedures, undertook extensive training in the form of in-store rehearsals and is providing each location with prescribed personal protection equipment.

Since the end of the fourth quarter, New Look said its total debt has increased by $35.4 million, “mainly as a result of business acquisitions.” The company completed the acquisition of Florida-based Edward Beiner Group in the first quarter, as VMAIL reported, along with additional acquired locations in Canada.

New Look also noted that it continues to diligently control its cost structure while actively monitoring market conditions.

“The strong organic growth momentum from the fourth quarter of 2019 carried into 2020 until the impact of COVID-19 hit companywide full force in March,” New Look president and chief executive officer Antoine Amiel said in the announcement.

“New Look Vision has responded swiftly to the crisis. Utmost on our minds has been the safety and wellbeing of our employees, associates and clients. Many measures have been taken to secure the future of the business through and beyond the crisis, including significant new additional financing arrangements,” he said.

After the first quarter ended, New Look secured an additional $33.9 million in financing for working capital purposes and for continued acquisitions. In addition, the company said it is in “advanced negotiations to obtain $40 million of unsecured debt from a development capital fund.”

Amiel added, “I want to specifically thank all of our employees and associates across the country who have worked so hard and showed such dedication in these unusual times. We are well positioned to withstand the current disruption given New Look Vision's efficient operations, historical profitability and strong balance sheet, and be in a position, as conditions improve, to successfully pursue our growth strategy in Canada and the U.S. in 2020 and beyond."