GrandVision's sales rose by 3.2 percent to €2,495 million in the first nine months of 2016, including a 2.2 percent increase in the third quarter. The devaluation of the British pound and some currencies in emerging markets had a negative effect of 3.0 percentage points in the nine months. At constant exchange rates, the growth reached rates of 6.1 percent for the nine months and 4.9 percent for the last three months, but this was partly due to acquisitions.
Acquisitions contributed 3.2 percentage points to the overall growth in the first nine months, reducing the organic growth rate to 2.9 percent. New store openings and acquisitions, particularly in the Americas and Asia, led to an increase in the total number of stores to 6,454 from 5,922 a year ago. Without these factors, the comparable growth rates were only 1.7 percent for the nine months and 0.4 percent in the last quarter, due primarily to weakness in Italy and Finland.
The adjusted operating margin before amortization (Ebitda) and exceptional items remained constant at 16.5 percent of sales for the nine months, but rose to 16.8 percent for the latest quarter from 17.5 percent in the year-ago period. The management remains confident that adjusted profits will increase by a high single-digit rate in the medium term, while sales will rise by at least 5 percent a year in constant currencies.
The comparable growth rate declined to 0.8 percent during the third quarter in the so-called G4 segment, which covers France, Germany, Austria, the Benelux countries, the U.K. and Ireland under various optical store banners, including the Solaris chain in France. The growth rate declined in France from the high levels of last year. The devaluation of the British pound led to a drop of 2.2 percent in the U.K. Solid low-single-digit growth was recorded in the Benelux countries.
Reported sales increased by 0.3 percent to €1,492 million in the G4 region between January and September, but the adjusted Ebitda margin went up to a comfortably high rate of 21.5 percent from 20.8 percent in the year-ago period. It rose to 21.1 percent in the third quarter, despite a drop in revenues of 2.2 percent to €479 million.
The integration of the former Gruppo Randazzo in Italy and the re-branding of its former Optissimo stores contributed to a 0.3 percent drop in GrandVision's sales in the Other Europe segment during the third quarter, with comparable sales down by 1.9 percent. Total sales rose by 0.8 percent to €677 million in the first nine months of this year in the region, generating a stable adjusted Ebitda margin of 15.3 percent.
Meanwhile, the group's turnover in the Americas and Asia grew by 25.6 percent in the nine months and by 35.3 percent in the third quarter, with organic growth rates of 14.0 percent and 12.5 percent, respectively. Thanks mainly to acquisitions, including the recent takeover of 181 shop-in-shops at Walmart stores in Mexico, the region came to represent 25 percent of GrandVision's total revenues.
On a comparable basis, the growth rate in the region was limited to 4.9 percent in the latest quarter. After growing by more than 20 percent for several quarters, the group's Turkish stores rose at a high single-digit rate, like those in Mexico and Chile. Brazil and Russia went up at low single-digit rates. Many new stores were opened in Mexico and Turkey.
The dilutive effect of acquisitions in the U.S., Mexico and Uruguay led to a decline in the adjusted Ebitda margin in the Americas and Asia to 3.8 percent in the first nine months of this year from 4.2 percent in the same period of 2015. It fell to 3.1 percent of sales in the third quarter.