In announcing its results for the first half of this year, Hal Holding said that an initial public offering (IPO) of GrandVision BV on the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange is currently in preparation. It will take place by the end of November at the earliest, depending on conditions in the financial markets and other factors, and it will probably see selling between 20 and 25 percent of GrandVision's shares. According to unconfirmed media reports, Hal has already mandated ABN Amro and JP Morgan to organize GrandVision's IPO.

GrandVision, in which Hal owns a 99 percent stake, is the company that groups most of the 5,000-odd optical retail operations acquired by the group over the last years. Its latest transaction, which closed at the end of August, was GrandVision's acquisition of 62 percent stake in a Peruvian optical retail chain, Topsa, with an option on the balance of the shares. The chain has about 1,030 employees and it generated sales of around €27 million in 2013.

During the first half of 2014, GranVision bought three other optical retail chains in Colombia, the U.K. and Germany. Together, they operated a total of 156 stores and had sales of €33 million in 2013.

Hal's revenues from its optical retail companies grew by 5.2 percent in the first six months of this year to €1,406 million, with a 5.4 percent increase on a currency-neutral basis and a 3.9 percent increase on a same-store basis. Their combined operating income rose to €170 million as compared to €136 million.

Their revenues and operating income were restated due to the application of new IFRS 10 accounting guidelines. The change had a positive effect of €71 million on sales and €8 million on income.

The application of the guidelines resulted in the consolidation as minority interests of two partly-owned subsidiaries including Safilo Group, in which Hal has a stake of 41.79 percent. Previously, they were entered into Hal's books through the equity method. The company is also consolidating a number of optical retail franchised operations in the U.K. - 88 as of June 30 - over which it deems to have control.

Overall, Hal Holdings reported a net profit of €278 million for the six-month period, up from €226 million in the same period a year ago. It said that most of the increase came from the higher results achieved in optical retail and other unquoted companies. The bigger Hal Trust reported a higher operating profit of €560.2 million and net profit of €388.1 million on total revenues and other income of €3,585.3 million.

Meanwhile, Melchert F. Groot, the Dutch executive who has gradually put together one of the world's largest group of companies in the eyewear sector under the umbrella of the Hal Holding Trust, has been appointed chairman of the company, based in Montecarlo. Groot has been with Hal for 25 years and is a member of its executive board since 2003.

Groot remains a member of GrandVision's supervisory board and a non-executive director of Safilo. He takes the place of Martijn van der Vorm, who has decided to step down with effect from Sept. 30, after 21 years in the post and 25 years with the company.

An extraordinary shareholders' meeting of Hal held on Sept. 22 appointed two other members to its executive board, Arie van't Hof and Jaap van Wiechen. Van't Hof is Hal's chief financial officer and has been with the company since 1992.