The biggest European optical retailing group reported last Friday a 2.5 percent increase in its revenues to €803 million for the first quarter ended 2016. Sales increased by 4.9 percent in local currencies, with acquisitions contributing 3.2 percentage points.

On a comparable store basis, GrandVision's organic growth for the period amounted to 0.9 percent, down from the 5.5 percent increase recorded in the same quarter a year earlier, due in part to the earlier Easter holidays and a lower number of selling days. The same factors led Fielmann to experience a small decline in the period for the first time in about ten years.

Nevertheless, GrandVision was able to report a 16.3 percent increase in operating earnings before amortization to €123 million from the corresponding 2015 period. The adjusted Ebitda margin declined by 0.32 percentage points to 15.3 percent due to the dilutive impact of acquisitions and the geographical mix.

For its G4 segment - which now includes its operations in France, Germany, Austria, Benelux, the U.K. and Ireland plus Monaco and the Solaris business in France – GrandVision reported comparable growth of 0.3 percent, down from 6.7 percent in the year-ago period. The main factor was a low single-digit decline in Germany and Austria because of the very high comparable growth of the year-ago period, which was affected by the timing of commercial initiatives.

In terms of euros, total sales increased by 0.7 percent to €494 million in this segment, with a 1.2 percent increase at constant exchange rates. The adjusted Ebitda margin declined by 0.2 percentage points to a still high level of 20.3 percent.

Spain has joined Italy and other countries in the Other Europe segment in GrandVision's reporting. In this segment, comparable sales declined by 0.5 percent against a rise of 1.8 percent in the first quarter of 2015. Actual revenues declined by 0.1 percent to €208 million, but they were up by 1.0 percent on a currency-neutral basis. Organically they increased by 0.1 percent with a decline of 0.5 percent on a comparable store basis.

GrandVision said that it continued to see weakness in parts of Northern Europe, but comparable store sales increased by a mid-single digit in Eastern Europe and Spain. The adjusted Ebitda margin in this segment rose by 0.11 percentage points to 12.6 percent of sales.

In the rest of the world, including Russia, the Americas and Asia, the group's adjusted Ebitda vaulted by 66.6 percent but remained relatively low at 3.2 percent of sales, 0.9 percentage points above the margin of a year ago.

GrandVision reported comparable growth of 8.5 percent for the segment, with especially strong increases in Chile, Mexico and Turkey. Reported revenues increased by 19.2 percent in euros to €101 million, with a 35.5 percent increase in constant currencies. Organic growth was limited to 11.9 percent and was partly due to the ongoing expansion of the store network. The balance of the growth came from acquisitions, including GrandVision's first foray into the U.S.

GrandVision was operating a total of 6,121 stores at the end of the quarter as compared to 6,110 at the end of 2015 and 5,825 at the end of March 2015.