Angelo Trocchia.
PADUA, Italy—Safilo Group S.p.A. (SFL.IM) reported Thursday that preliminary net sales in 2021 totaled €969.6 million, an increase of 26.3 percent at constant exchange rates and 24.3 percent at current exchange rates compared with the sales of €780.3 million recorded in 2020, “a year heavily penalized by the lockdowns and business restrictions imposed to contain the Covid-19 pandemic,” as the company noted in its announcement. “This strong business rebound also allowed the Group to significantly exceed the net sales registered in 2019, recording a growth of 7.5 percent at constant exchange rates and 3.3 percent at current exchange rates. Organic sales represented the main growth driver compared to the pre-pandemic business levels, up around 10 percent at constant exchange rates versus 2019," the announcement noted.

In addition, Safilo said the “brand portfolio overhaul strategy implemented over the last two years enabled the Group to effectively compensate the business decline deriving from licenses terminated at the end of 2020 and at the end of June 2021 with new proprietary and licensed brands in the portfolio.”
In 2021, the share of the Group’s total business deriving from online channels represented 13.4 percent of sales, up from 12.7 percent in 2020 and 3.9 percent in 2019.
Safilo said it expects its board of directors, which has examined the preliminary key performance indicators for the financial year ended Dec. 31, 2021, to approve the full-year annual results at a board meeting on March 15.
In 2021’s fourth quarter, Safilo said preliminary net sales totaled €232.2 million, showing “a substantial stability compared with the business levels recorded in the same period of 2020 (-0.7 percent at constant exchange rates and +2.9 percent at current exchange rates). In Q4, Safilo also noted that a majority of its core brands achieved double-digit growth, including Carrera, Kate Spade, Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo Boss.
In its announcement, Safilo also cited the strong performance of its brand portfolio in the North American market, even in an “economic environment that saw the fourth quarter once again impacted by renewed restrictions following the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.”
Its “expansion in the North American market” was highlighted by a sixth, consecutive quarter of growth, both compared to the previous year and to 2019. “2021 was a record year for Smith, which also in Q4 2021 contributed to the significant organic growth posted by the Group in the United States, thanks to the strength of its products and the significant progress of the brand in its online channel, enhanced at the beginning of the year with the launch of its new e-commerce site,” the announcement said.
In North America, Q4 net sales performance continued to benefit from the growth in organic sales of sunglasses and prescription frames in the main distribution channel of independent opticians, while the acquisitions of Blenders and Privé Revaux, alongside the new licensed brands in the portfolio, allowed for an important  dimensional jump of the business compared to 2019 pre-pandemic levels. The strong Q4 organic  sales growth continued to contribute to the Group’s full year growth in the region, the announcement stated.
On a preliminary basis, Safilo said it closed the full year 2021 with an adjusted EBITDA margin on sales of 8.7 percent, a performance which marked an exponential recovery compared to the break-even recorded in 2020 and an improvement of 170 basis points compared to the 7.0 percent margin posted in 2019.
On a preliminary basis, the Group's net debt as of Dec. 31, 2021, was reduced to roughly €94 million, compared with €222.1 million in 2020. This reduction reflected the successful completion of the Group’s  capital increase at the beginning of November 2021.