Belron Profits Rise Despite Pandemic and Decreased Sales

D’Ieteren Group presented its full-year 2020 results, including those of Belron (which owns Safelite Autoglass in the United States). Belron’s organic sales declined by 7.5%, though the Group’s profit before tax improved significantly by 44.6% due in part to what it says was improved productivity, and stringent cost containment measures. The company says its organic sales growth was driven by a progressive volume recovery, a positive mix, and the continuation of ADAS recalibration penetration, according to the report.

“As trading recovered after the initial severe peaks of the pandemic the business recovered in volume and value across all regions and continued to generate higher revenues from ancillary products and recalibrations,” a portion of the financial report reads. “North America, France and Germany performed particularly strongly at the end of 2020.”

Belron’s North America division, which makes up 55%, saw its sales decline by 5.4%. The company notes an organic decline of 5.5%, which it says reflects the impact of the pandemic on volumes, partially offset by a positive product mix and higher revenues from ADAS recalibration and valued added products and services. Belron’s TruRoad acquisition, which took place in August 2019, contributed to 2.9% of growth. The total acquisition growth, noted in the financial report, was 1.6%.

The company’s Eurozone division, which makes up 31% of the business, saw the greatest impact to trading as a result of the pandemic with significant branch closures before summer in France, Italy, Spain and Belgium as a result of governmental restrictions. Sales from continuing operations declined by 11.2% comprising 11.3% organic decline, slightly compensated by 0.1% growth from minor acquisitions, according to the financial report.

The rest of the world, which makes up 13%, saw sales from continuing operations decline by 8.3%. The UK has been most impacted with sales in Australia and the Nordics “holding up relatively well.”

Consumers served in 2020 were 14.9 million, a decline of 17.8% year-over-year, of which 14.4 million were in Vehicle Glass Repair and Replacement (VGRR) and Claims Management sectors. VGRR volumes declined by 12.9% when compared to 2019 results.

COVID’s Impact/2021 Outlook

The financial results addressed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Group’s activities throughout the world. The company launched measures at the beginning of the pandemic, which it says were designed to preserve cash by reducing costs, and optimizing working capital.

While the timing of the end of COVID-19 is still unknown, based on the absence of renewed or more severe lockdowns in its main operating regions, D’Ieteren Group expects its adjusted consolidated profit before tax Group’s share to grow by at least 25% compared to 2020. “This improvement is expected to be driven by a recovery of all the activities, and assumes a 53.75% stake in Belron in 2020 and 2021 and average exchange rates that are in line with the rates that prevailed at the end of 2020,” according to the report.

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