In a preliminary statement, Essilor International reports a sales increase of 1.8 percent to €1,252.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2013. On a comparable basis, sales went up by 3.0 percent in the quarter. Changes in the scope of consolidation added 4.3 percentage points to the growth, but this was offset by negative effect of 5.5 percentage points from changes in currency exchange rates.

On a comparable basis, the Readers and Equipment divisions performed relatively well in the quarter, posting increases of 6.9 and 17.0 percent, respectively, from the year-earlier levels. Lenses and Optical Instruments recorded growth of 2.0 percent, recovering in North America where they rose by 0.9 percent. The only drop took place in Europe, down by 0.4 percent, because of the previously reported loss of a major contract with Hal.

For the full financial year, Essilor's revenues increased by 1.5 percent to €5,065.2 million, breaking the €5 billion barrier for the first time. They rose by 2.1 percent on a comparable basis, with increases in all segments and all regions, but a negative currency effect of 3.9 percentage points offset an increase of 3.3 percentage points from acquisitions.

All in all, the second half was better than the first half on a comparable basis, rising by 3.0 percent against an increase of 1.2 percent.

Detailed results will be published on Feb. 27, but the company indicates that the profit contribution from operations was slightly higher last year than in 2012.

Meanwhile, Essilor has reported the signing of six new acquisitions in North and Latin America that will represent extra revenues of about €38 million for the group on an annualized basis.

In the U.S., Essilor has acquired majority stakes in two prescription laboratories – R. D. Cherry in Michigan and Plunkett Optical in Arkansas – that generate annual revenues of $9.8 million and $3.3 million, respectively. The French group has also acquired the majority of the shares in Frame Displays, which develops display furniture and accessories for optical stores and has annual revenues of $4.5 million.

In Canada, Essilor has strengthened its distribution network through a partnership with Riverside Optical, a group of prescription laboratories operating in Québec and Ontario with revenues of 26 million Canadian dollars (€17.3-$23.4m). The company also struck a partnership with Benson Edwards Optical Lab and CPS 360 Optical Lab, two other Ontario-based prescription laboratories with revenues of nearly C$3 million (€2.0m-$2.7m).

Essilor has also expanded its geographical coverage in Brazil through a partnership with Comprol that gives it access to the lucrative market of Brasilia, the capital of the country. Its laboratory generates annual revenues of €5.4 million.