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Message from the CEO
2015 was a successful year for GrandVision. Revenue grew by 13.8% to €3.2 billion or 13.2% at constant exchange rates. Comparable growth of 4.1%, network expansion (1.2%) and acquisitions (7.9%) contributed to this development. Adjusted EBITDA grew by 13.8%, to €512 million or 12.8% at constant exchange rates. Excluding acquisitions, our EBITDA margin expanded by 64 bps to 16.6%, and remained constant when including the diluting effect of the acquisitions.
GrandVision’s G4 segment had a comparable growth of 4.1% and confirmed its best-in-class margin level and high cash flow generation. The Other Europe segment achieved comparable growth of 3.2%, as well as growth from acquisitions and network expansion, and saw good EBITDA growth. The Americas and Asia segment delivered the highest comparable growth of 6.6% driven by Latin America.
During 2015, the optical retail market expanded further. We increased our market positions in all segments with organic growth outperforming the underlying expansion of the market. Particularly good performances were achieved in Germany, Austria, Southern Europe, and Latin America. In times of weaker economic conditions, such as in the emerging markets which faced challenges in 2015, consumers generally become more price-sensitive, searching for high quality but at the same time, affordable offerings. This explains the resilience of our business model, which is focused on providing such offers.
We made progress in reaching our long-term strategic ambitions, as we continued to strengthen and leverage our capabilities globally. This enabled us to further enhance our customer promise to provide high quality and affordable eye care to more and more people around the world. I would like to highlight a few strategic and operational achievements:
We have further strengthened our global Supply Chain organization. For example, all Exclusive Brand frames and sunglasses are now purchased through the global Supply Chain company, allowing for faster times to market, better product availability, and streamlined logistics from our suppliers.
Our TechCenter production strategy has moved forward in line with expectations. These large-scale industrialized production facilities provide benefits in terms of quality, delivery speed, reliability, and cost, when compared to the traditional approach of producing and assembling spectacles in smaller labs or in- store. In 2015, more countries, including Spain, Portugal, Italy and Denmark, became connected to the TechCenter network.
Another milestone in the year was the successful launch of our new global ERP system in the Netherlands and Belgium, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Further international rollout will follow in the coming years until all countries will benefit from the global ERP system.
We advanced in the development of our omni-channel solution and went live with a first stage omni-channel customer experience in China. A seamlessly integrated customer journey is now being enabled across all channels in that country, which has served as an important incubator for our omni-channel innovation. This innovative retail approach will be further enhanced in the years ahead and rolled out globally.
At the same time, we have further improved the accessibility to our high quality and affordable eye care services and products by further optimizing and expanding our store network. At the end of 2015, GrandVision operated a total of 6,110 stores, a net increase of 296 from 5,814 at the end of 2014.
In December, we completed the acquisition of the U.S.-based optical retail chain For Eyes with an integrated network of over 100 stores. The United States is the world’s largest and also a growing optical retail market. For Eyes is now being integrated into GrandVision and will be aligned with our overall business approach and growth strategy.
GrandVision serves customers in Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia. This global footprint provides a solid basis for future growth, even as we continue to explore opportunities for additional expansion, as we have done successfully in the past. We bring the benefits of our global capabilities to each of our businesses, including smaller countries, and maintain a focus on expansion in fast-growing markets.
The vision experts in our stores serve our customers in the best way and with the best products and services. They are at the core of our business. All other parts of our organization are focused on providing the best support to them. Therefore, continuous training and development of our staff will always be a top priority. With the GrandVision Academy we have developed a comprehensive and long-term learning path for all store-based employees.
In summary, we have progressed on the journey to leverage our potential as a global leader in optical retailing for the benefit of our customers and our business.
Looking ahead, we will take the appropriate steps to continue on this journey, always with long-term value creation in mind. We will continue to enhance and internationally deploy our global capabilities, and improve the accessibility of our services and products to our customers.
I would like to thank all GrandVision employees for their passion and dedication in serving our customers, their determination in always searching for the better solution, and their commitment to further growing and improving our business. I look forward to delivering on our global vision as a strong team also in 2016. We will again demonstrate that in EYE CARE, WE CARE MORE.
Theo Kiesselbach, CEO