National Vision, the U.S.-based optical retailer behind the America’s Best and Eyeglass World banners, registered a second consecutive quarter of double-digit increase in sales after big declines in the first half of the year due to the Covid-19 crisis impact.

For its fourth quarter ended Jan. 2, the company booked total revenues of $496.7 million, representing a 23.6 percent increase from the previous year. Comparable store sales increased by 14.3 percent year-on-year and the company door count went up to 1,205 at the end of the quarter, four more stores than three months before.

According to Reade Fahs, National Vision’s CEO, the group’s positioning on entry-level eyecare finds a favorable echo in the context of the pandemic where consumers look for low-cost offerings. Following the results of an independent research commissioned by the company, Fahs is upbeat about the growth potential in both existing and new markets for America’s Best and Eyeglass World, with projections of up to 1,300 and 850 locations respectively in the longer term. This would mean a 80 percent jump in the number of retail locations from current levels.

The quick growth in Q3 and Q4 almost totally offset the big sales’ declines observed in the first half, leading National Vision to report annual revenues of $1,724 million, a 0.7 percent year-on-year decrease only. An increase of 55 units in the number of stores managed by the group in 2020 helped to mitigate a 5.6 percent drop in comparable store sales. After SG&A expenses decreased by 3.2 percent in the past year from 2019, the company managed to improve its profit ratios, with adjusted EBITDA rising by 1.6 percentage point year-on-year to 10.4 percent.

In a scenario where the Covid-19 pandemic and related restrictions would not deteriorate, National Vision expects to reach annual revenues of $1,930 to $1,980 million in fiscal 2021, adding 75 retail locations to its network, and an adjusted operating income in the $130-$137 million range.