As confidentially submitted with the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 10, 2017
Registration No. 333-
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
THE SECURITIES ACT OF 1933
National Vision Holdings, Inc.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
(Primary Standard Industrial
Classification Code Number)
2435 Commerce Avenue
Duluth, Georgia 30096-4980
(Address, including zip code, and telephone number, including area code, of registrant’s principal executive offices)
Mitchell Goodman, Esq.
Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary
2435 Commerce Avenue
Duluth, Georgia 30096-4980
(Name, address, including zip code, and telephone number, including area code, of agent for service)
With copies to:
Joseph H. Kaufman, Esq.
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
425 Lexington Avenue
New York, New York 10017-3954
Marc D. Jaffe, Esq.
Ian D. Schuman, Esq.
Latham & Watkins LLP
885 3rd Avenue
New York, New York 10022-4834
Approximate date of commencement of proposed sale to the public: As soon as practicable after this Registration Statement is declared effective.
If any of the securities being registered on this Form are to be offered on a delayed or continuous basis pursuant to Rule 415 under the Securities Act of 1933, check the following box: o
If this Form is filed to register additional securities for an offering pursuant to Rule 462(b) under the Securities Act, please check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering. o
If this Form is a post-effective amendment filed pursuant to Rule 462(c) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering. o
If this Form is a post-effective amendment filed pursuant to Rule 462(d) under the Securities Act, check the following box and list the Securities Act registration statement number of the earlier effective registration statement for the same offering. o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of large accelerated filer, accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, and emerging growth company in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
☒ (Do not check if a smaller reporting company)
Smaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 7(a)(2)(B) of the Securities Act. o
CALCULATION OF REGISTRATION FEE
Title of Each Class of Securities to be Registered
Aggregate Offering Price(1)(2)
Common stock, par value $0.01 per share
|(1)||Estimated solely for the purpose of calculating the registration fee in accordance with Rule 457(o) under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.|
|(2)||Includes the aggregate offering price of shares of common stock that the underwriters have the option to purchase. See Underwriting (Conflicts of Interest).|
|(3)||To be paid in connection with the initial filing of the registration statement.|
The Registrant hereby amends this Registration Statement on such date or dates as may be necessary to delay its effective date until the Registrant shall file a further amendment which specifically states that this Registration Statement shall thereafter become effective in accordance with Section 8(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or until the Registration Statement shall become effective on such date as the Securities and Exchange Commission, acting pursuant to said Section 8(a), may determine.
The information in this preliminary prospectus is not complete and may be changed. These securities may not be sold until the registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission is effective. This preliminary prospectus is not an offer to sell these securities and it is not soliciting an offer to buy these securities in any jurisdiction where the offer or sale is not permitted.
Subject to Completion, dated July 10, 2017.
National Vision Holdings, Inc.
This is an initial public offering of shares of common stock of National Vision Holdings, Inc. We are offering shares of our common stock.
Prior to this offering, there has been no public market for our common stock. We currently expect that the initial public offering price of our common stock will be between $ and $ per share. We intend to apply to list our common stock on under the symbol EYE.
After the completion of this offering, affiliates of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P., or KKR, and private equity funds managed by Berkshire Partners LLC, or Berkshire, will continue to own a majority of the voting power of our common stock. As a result, we will be a controlled company within the meaning of the corporate governance standards of the applicable stock exchange. See Principal Stockholders.
Investing in our common stock involves risk. See Risk Factors beginning on page 18 to read about factors you should consider before buying shares of our common stock.
Neither the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, nor any state securities commission has approved or disapproved of these securities or passed upon the adequacy or accuracy of this prospectus. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.
Initial public offering price
Underwriting discounts and commissions
Proceeds, before expenses, to us(1)
|(1)||We have agreed to reimburse the underwriters for certain expenses in connection with the offering. See Underwriting (Conflicts of Interest).|
To the extent that the underwriters sell more than shares of our common stock, the underwriters have the option to purchase up to an additional shares from us at the initial public offering price, less the underwriting discounts and commissions, within 30 days of the date of this prospectus.
The underwriters expect to deliver the shares against payment in New York, New York on or about , 2017.
Prospectus dated , 2017.
You should rely only on the information contained in this prospectus or in any free writing prospectus that we authorize to be delivered to you. We and the underwriters have not authorized anyone to provide any information or to make any representations other than those contained in this prospectus or in any free writing prospectuses we have prepared. We and the underwriters take no responsibility for, and can provide no assurance as to the reliability of, any other information that others may provide you. We are offering to sell, and seeking offers to buy, these securities only in jurisdictions where offers and sales are permitted. The information contained in this prospectus is accurate only as of the date of this prospectus, regardless of the time of delivery of this prospectus or of any sale of the securities. Our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects may have changed since that date.
For investors outside the United States: We are offering to sell, and seeking offers to buy, shares of our common stock only in jurisdictions where offers and sales are permitted. Neither we nor the underwriters have done anything that would permit this offering or possession or distribution of this prospectus in any jurisdiction where action for that purpose is required, other than in the United States. Persons outside the United States who come into possession of this prospectus must inform themselves about, and observe any restrictions relating to, the offering of the shares of common stock and the distribution of this prospectus outside the United States.
Table of Contents
The data included in this prospectus regarding markets, ranking and other industry information are based on reports of government agencies or published industry sources, and our own internal estimates are based on our managements knowledge and experience in the markets in which we operate. Data regarding the industry in which we compete and our market position and market share within this industry are inherently imprecise and are subject to significant business, economic and competitive uncertainties beyond our control, but we believe they generally indicate size, position and market share within this industry. Our own estimates are based on information obtained from our customers, suppliers, trade and business organizations and other contacts in the markets we operate. We are responsible for all of the disclosure in this prospectus, and we believe these estimates to be accurate as of the date of this prospectus or such other date stated in this prospectus. However, this information may prove to be inaccurate because of the method by which we obtained some of the data for the estimates or because this information cannot always be verified with complete certainty due to the limits on the availability and reliability of raw data, the voluntary nature of the data gathering process and other limitations and uncertainties. While we believe that each of the publications used throughout this prospectus are prepared by reputable sources, neither we nor the underwriters have independently verified market and industry data from third-party sources. While we believe our internal company research and estimates are reliable, such research and estimates have not been verified by any independent source. In addition, assumptions and estimates of our and our industrys future performance are necessarily subject to a high degree of uncertainty and risk due to a variety of factors, including those described in Risk Factors. These and other factors could cause our future performance to differ materially from our assumptions and estimates. See Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements. As a result, you should be aware that market, ranking, and other similar industry data included in this prospectus, and estimates and beliefs based on that data may not be reliable. Neither we nor the underwriters can guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any such information contained in this prospectus.
We own a number of registered and common law trademarks and pending applications for trademark registrations in the United States, primarily through our subsidiaries, including: Americas Best, Americas Best & Design, Americas Best Contacts and Eyeglasses, Americas Best Contacts and Eyeglasses & Design, Americas Best Vision Plan, Americas Best owl mascot image, Its not just a better deal. Its Americas Best., Eyeglass World, Eyeglass World logos, See yourself smile. See yourself save., AC Lens, FirstSight, Vista Optical, Eyecare Club, Sofmed, Digimax, Neverglare, Neverglare Advantage and Neverglare Advantage & Design. Solely for convenience, the trademarks, service marks and tradenames referred to in this prospectus are presented without the ®, SM and ™ symbols, but such references are not intended to indicate, in any way, that we will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, our rights or the rights of the applicable licensors to these trademarks, service marks and tradenames. All trademarks, service marks and tradenames appearing in this prospectus are the property of their respective owners.
Unless otherwise indicated or the context otherwise requires, financial data in this prospectus reflects the business and operations of National Vision Holdings, Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries. Unless the context otherwise requires, all references herein to National Vision Holdings, Inc., National Vision, the Company, we, our or us refer to National Vision Holdings, Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries. National Vision Holdings, Inc. conducts substantially all of its activities through its direct, wholly-owned subsidiary, National Vision, Inc., which we refer to herein as NVI, and NVIs subsidiaries.
We operate on a retail fiscal calendar pursuant to which our fiscal year consists of 52 or 53 weeks, ending on the Saturday closest to December 31. Unless otherwise indicated or the context otherwise requires, all references to years and quarters relate to fiscal periods rather than calendar periods.
For the purpose of discussing our financial results, we refer to ourselves as the Successor in the periods following the KKR Acquisition (defined below) and the Predecessor during the periods preceding the KKR Acquisition. References herein to the Successor period ended January 3, 2015, or the 2014 Successor period, relate to the period from March 13, 2014 to January 3, 2015. References herein to the Predecessor period ended March 12, 2014, or the 2014 Predecessor period, relate to the period from December 29, 2013 to
March 12, 2014. References herein to the full year 2014 relate to the combined Successor and Predecessor periods from December 29, 2013 to January 3, 2015, which included 53 weeks.
References to fiscal year 2012, fiscal year 2013, fiscal year 2015 and fiscal year 2016 relate to our fiscal year ended December 29, 2012, our fiscal year ended December 28, 2013, our fiscal year ended January 2, 2016 and our fiscal year ended December 31, 2016, respectively.
Amounts in this prospectus and the consolidated financial statements included in this prospectus are presented in U.S. dollars rounded to the nearest thousand, unless otherwise noted. Certain amounts presented in tables are subject to rounding adjustments and, as a result, the totals in such tables may not sum. The accounting policies set out in the audited consolidated financial statements contained elsewhere in this prospectus have been consistently applied to all periods presented.
The following are definitions of certain terms as used in this prospectus, unless otherwise noted or indicated by context.
|•||AC Lens means Arlington Contact Lens Service, Inc., our wholly-owned subsidiary.|
|•||Centralized laboratory network or laboratory network mean our three owned, full-service optical laboratories in the United States and two outsourced, third-party owned optical laboratories in Mexico and China.|
|•||Comparable store base means our stores that have been open for longer than 12 months. Closed stores are excluded from the comparable store base.|
|•||Comparable store sales or comparable store sales growth mean the increase or decrease in sales recorded by the comparable store base in any reporting period, compared to sales recorded by the comparable store base in the prior reporting period, which we calculate as follows: (i) sales are recorded on a cash basis (i.e. when the order is placed and paid for, compared to when the order is delivered); (ii) sales from partial months of operation are ignored when stores do not open or close on the first day of the month; and (iii) when applicable, we adjust for the effect of the 53rd week. There may be variations in the way in which some of our competitors and other retailers calculate comparable store sales. As a result, data in this prospectus regarding our comparable store sales may not be comparable to similar data made available by other retailers.|
|•||E-commerce platform means the technology that we use to conduct the online sale of optical goods and accessories, and includes our construction, management and operation of our proprietary websites and websites for third parties, such as Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., or Walmart, Sam’s Club and Giant Eagle, which we refer to herein as our e-commerce business.|
|•||E-commerce sales means sales from our store, proprietary and partner websites, excluding AC Lens’ fulfilment orders for the Walmart and Sam’s Club websites and ship-to-home orders from our store websites fulfilled by AC Lens.|
|•||Eye care practitioners means optometrists and ophthalmologists.|
|•||FirstSight means FirstSight Vision Services, Inc., our wholly-owned subsidiary.|
|•||Host brands means the Vista Optical brands we operate in Fred Meyer stores and on U.S. Army and Air Force military bases.|
|•||Host partners means Fred Meyer, Inc., or Fred Meyer, and the U.S. Army and Air Force Exchange Service.|
|•||KKR Acquisition means the acquisition of the Company by affiliates of KKR in March 2014.|
|•||Legacy brand means the Vision Center brand we operate in Walmart stores.|
|•||Legacy partner means Walmart.|
|•||Managed care or managed vision care mean vision care programs and associated benefits (i) sponsored by employers or other groups, (ii) provided by insurers and managed care entities, such as health maintenance organizations, or HMOs, to individuals, and (iii) delivered, typically on a fee-for-service or capitated basis, by health care providers, such as ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians.|
|•||Mature stores means stores that have been in operation for longer than five years.|
|•||Omni-channel platform means the technology supporting many of our physical and online retail functionalities and services, including online frame browsing and virtual frame try-on, scheduling of appointments, ship to customer programs, geolocation of our retail locations and online ordering of optical goods. As of April 1, 2017, our omni-channel platform serves our America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, or America’s Best, stores, Eyeglass World stores and Vista Optical operations on U.S. Army and Air Force military bases.|
|•||Owned brands or owned stores mean our America’s Best and Eyeglass World brands or stores, as applicable.|
|•||Partner brands means our host and legacy brands, collectively.|
|•||Sponsors means affiliates of KKR and private equity funds managed by Berkshire.|
|•||Value segment or value segment of the U.S. optical retail industry consist of the Company, Walmart, Costco Wholesale and Eyemart Express, Ltd.|
|•||Vision care professionals means optometrists (including optometrists employed by us or by professional corporations owned by eye care practitioners with which we have arrangements) and opticians.|
This prospectus contains non-GAAP financial measures that are financial measures that either exclude or include amounts that are not excluded or included in the most directly comparable measures calculated and presented in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States, or GAAP. Specifically, we make use of the non-GAAP financial measures Adjusted EBITDA and Adjusted Net Income. In order to facilitate a discussion of certain results of operations across periods, we have presented the results for the full year 2014 on a combined basis, which is comprised of the results for the 2014 Predecessor period and the 2014 Successor period. This combination is not a presentation made in accordance with GAAP.
Adjusted EBITDA and Adjusted Net Income have been presented in this prospectus as supplemental measures of financial performance that are not required by, or presented in accordance with GAAP, because we believe they assist investors and analysts in comparing our operating performance across reporting periods on a consistent basis by excluding items that we do not believe are indicative of our core operating performance. Management believes Adjusted EBITDA and Adjusted Net Income are useful to investors in highlighting trends in our operating performance, while other measures can differ significantly depending on long-term strategic decisions regarding capital structure, the tax jurisdictions in which we operate and capital investments. Management uses Adjusted EBITDA and Adjusted Net Income to supplement GAAP measures of performance in the evaluation of the effectiveness of our business strategies, to make budgeting decisions, to establish discretionary annual incentive compensation and to compare our performance against that of other peer companies using similar measures. Management supplements GAAP results with non-GAAP financial measures to provide a more complete understanding of the factors and trends affecting the business than GAAP results alone.
Adjusted EBITDA and Adjusted Net Income are not recognized terms under GAAP and should not be considered as an alternative to net income (loss) or income (loss) from operations as a measure of financial performance or cash flows provided by operating activities as a measure of liquidity, or any other performance measure derived in accordance with GAAP. Additionally, these measures are not intended to be a measure of free cash flow available for managements discretionary use as they do not consider certain cash requirements such as interest payments, tax payments and debt service requirements. The presentations of these measures have limitations as analytical tools and should not be considered in isolation, or as a substitute for analysis of our results as reported under GAAP. Because not all companies use identical calculations, the presentations of these measures may not be comparable to other similarly titled measures of other companies and can differ significantly from company to company. For a discussion of the use of these measures and a reconciliation of the most directly comparable GAAP measures, see Prospectus Summary―Summary Historical Consolidated Financial and Other Data.
Dear Potential Shareholders:
Since our founding 27 years ago, National Vision has been helping make eye exams, eyeglasses and contact lenses more affordable and therefore more accessible to low-income and cost-conscious consumers. Having started out operating Vision Centers inside Walmart, today National Vision is one of the largest and fastest growing optical retailers in the United States and a leader in the attractive value segment of the U.S. optical retail industry, serving customers through a diverse portfolio of 962 retail stores across five brand banners and 19 consumer websites.
Eye exams and eyeglasses are illogically and needlessly expensive. While not an issue for wealthier people, this is an issue for blue-collar and lower-income Americans — an issue with broad implications.
As people age, their eyesight diminishes. This tendency is exacerbated by such factors as diabetes, increased screen usage, poor diet and generally less healthy lifestyles. Eye exams, beyond providing a prescription for eyeglasses and contact lenses, can detect hundreds of potential health concerns, ranging from eye diseases, to general health, to life threatening conditions such as brain tumors and aneurysms. This is why regular eye exams are so important. But for many people, especially the lower-income and the uninsured, eye exams are an expensive, unfamiliar and intimidating experience.
Eyeglasses themselves provide a life-changing benefit — allowing people to work, to learn, to drive safely and to appreciate the world around them. For the approximately 76% of adult Americans who require some form of vision correction, their eyeglasses or contacts are vital to their day-to-day existence. Most people simply cannot function without them.
Eyeglasses are a 730-year-old technology involving two small pieces of cut plastic that are held in front of the eyes by three small pieces of plastic or metal. They can no longer be regarded as new technology. That is why their tremendous expense today — often $300 to $1,000 or more for a single pair (and increasing annually) — is completely illogical.
Thats where National Vision comes in.
We exist to make eye care and eyewear more affordable and accessible.
We strive to provide the best value for eye exams, eyeglasses and contact lenses. We believe that budget-conscious consumers with perfect knowledge of the category will pick National Vision for their basic vision needs. Our various offerings make us the best value and one of the lowest cost providers of this non-discretionary and ongoing medical necessity.
The size and scale of our portfolio of brands provide us high proximity to customers and allow us to engage them across a variety of sales channels. Collectively, these brands constitute a portfolio that combines attractive economics with significant growth potential. While we continue to proudly operate several hundred Walmart Vision Centers along with various supply chain and e-commerce offerings for both Walmart and Sams Club, our growth in recent years has been driven by the expansion of our two leading owned brands, Americas Best Contacts & Eyeglasses (Americas Best) and Eyeglass World. As a result of our partnership with a third party, we believe that these brands can grow to at least 1,000 Americas Best stores and more than 850 Eyeglass World stores.
Americas Best operates 546 stores located in high-traffic strip centers next to other well-known, off-price retailers, such as TJ Maxx and Marshalls. For the past 20 years, Americas Best has led with a signature offer of an eye exam and two pairs of eyeglasses for $69.95. We believe there is no better value in the marketplace. This affordability and convenience has driven ongoing traffic growth and high customer loyalty along with increased market share.
Eyeglass World operates 104 stores — all with in-store lens-grinding laboratories. Eyeglass Worlds are bigger stores with a wider selection of brands and price points. Eyeglasses from Eyeglass World start at two pairs for $78.00. Because this brand has an on-site laboratory, customers can get their eyes examined and walk out with glasses in the same day.
Over the last five years, National Vision has been one of the fastest growing U.S. optical retail chains with sales having a compounded annual growth rate of 14%, three times the industry average growth rate.
We are a company that is all about consistency — consistency of management, consistency of host, legacy and supplier partnerships, and consistency of growth and business results. For the past 15 years, National Vision has been led by essentially the same collection of 20± year-career optical retailing professionals. Together we have:
|•||Delivered 61 consecutive quarters of positive comparable store sales (with a simple long-term average of approximately 5% growth per quarter and with most of this growth coming from an increase in the number of customers as opposed to average ticket amount), which we believe is a category record. The team leading National Vision today has never experienced a negative comp quarter.|
|•||Steadily grown sales from $245 million (in 2002 when the current team formed) to $1.2 billion (in 2016).|
|•||Opened 504 stores — an average of 50 per year — over the past ten years and accelerated new store openings to approximately 75 per annum.|
|•||Maintained strong and consistent partnerships with Walmart (27+ years), the U.S. military (18+ years) and Fred Meyer (18+ years).|
|•||Successfully acquired, integrated and expanded three optical platforms.|
|•||Created over 5,000 new jobs.|
|•||Made several early stage venture investments in eye exam, virtual try-on and 3D eyeglass printing start-ups.|
National Visions strategy has been in place for over a decade and is founded on a commitment to a relatively simple business model. It is to do the following:
|•||Provide exceptional price and convenience to customers, enabled by our low-cost operating platform.|
|•||Provide Americans what they want and need — access to America’s Best and Eyeglass World stores — by growing our footprint throughout the United States.|
|•||Continually improve our in-store shopping experience and enhance our solutions-based service approach to increase the volume of customer traffic to our stores.|
|•||Maintain strong, long-term partnerships with Walmart, Fred Meyer and the U.S. military by providing affordable and easily accessible optical services to their respective customers.|
|•||Cultivate strong, long-term mutually beneficial relationships throughout the optical industry — our intent is to be the friendly, nimble folks that industry players most want to work with.|
|•||Energize our offerings with meaningful omni-channel and technology offerings.|
|•||Strive to be the most rewarding and fulfilling place for optometrists and optical associates to spend their careers.|
|•||Be the best at helping the world to see by getting eyeglasses to those who would not have them otherwise via a powerful innovative social mission and an eco-system of like-minded partners operating in the United States and in various low-income countries around the world.|
We believe that — in the way we approach it — optical retail is a noble profession.
|•||We believe that the optometrists practicing in our various settings play a primary entry point and gate-keeping role in America’s health care system by making eye exams more affordable and accessible and thereby increasing the frequency of eye exams and disease detection for lower-income Americans.|
|•||We believe our growth provides fulfilling careers for both optometrists and optical associates.|
|•||We believe we improve lives by saving millions of Americans a significant amount of money on a product that they need to both function and enjoy their life.|
We think of ourselves as a fast-growing business engine that, in turn, also fuels a fast-growing philanthropic mission. We play a role in dramatically improving the quality of life for millions of lower-income people in America and abroad both through our business offerings and through our various philanthropic outreach efforts.
We invite you to join us on this most fulfilling and important journey of service, enablement and growth.
Chief Executive Officer
An investment in our common stock involves risk. You should carefully consider the following risks as well as the other information included in this prospectus, including Selected Historical Consolidated Financial Data, Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, and our consolidated financial statements and related notes, before investing in our common stock. Any of the following risks could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, or results of operations. The selected risks described below, however, are not the only risks facing us. Additional risks and uncertainties not currently known to us or those we currently view to be immaterial may also materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, or results of operations. In such a case, the trading price of our common stock could decline and you may lose all or part of your investment.
Risks Related to Our Business
If we fail to open and operate new stores in a timely and cost-effective manner or fail to successfully enter new markets, our financial performance could be materially and adversely affected.
Our growth strategy depends, in large part, on growing our store base and expanding our operations, both in existing and new geographic regions, and operating our new stores successfully. We cannot assure you that our contemplated expansion, including our further expansion in the California market, will be successful.
Our ability to successfully open and operate new stores depends on many factors, including, among others, our ability to:
|•||recruit and retain qualified vision care professionals (who may be licensed or unlicensed, depending on state regulations) for any new store;|
|•||address regulatory, competitive, merchandising, marketing, distribution and other challenges encountered in connection with expansion into new markets;|
|•||hire, train and retain an expanded workforce of store managers and other personnel;|
|•||maintain adequate laboratory, distribution facility, information system and other operational system capabilities;|
|•||successfully integrate new stores into our existing management structure and operations, including information system integration;|
|•||negotiate acceptable lease terms at suitable retail locations;|
|•||source sufficient levels of inventory at acceptable costs;|
|•||obtain necessary permits and licenses;|
|•||construct and open our stores on a timely basis;|
|•||generate sufficient levels of cash or obtain financing on acceptable terms to support our expansion;|
|•||achieve and maintain brand awareness in new and existing markets; and|
|•||identify and satisfy the merchandise and other preferences of our customers.|
Our failure to effectively address challenges such as these could adversely affect our ability to successfully open and operate new stores in a timely and cost-effective manner.
In addition, there can be no assurance that newly-opened stores will achieve net sales or profitability levels comparable to those of our existing stores in the time periods estimated by us, or at all. If our stores fail to achieve, or are unable to sustain, acceptable total net sales and profitability levels, our business may be materially harmed and we may incur significant costs associated with closing those stores. Our plans to accelerate the growth of our store base may increase this risk.
Accordingly, we cannot assure you that we will achieve our planned growth or, even if we are able to grow our store base as planned, that our new stores will perform as expected. Our failure to implement our growth strategy and to successfully open and operate new stores in the time frames and at the costs estimated by us could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We will require significant capital to fund our expanding business. If we are unable to maintain sufficient levels of cash flow from our operations, we may not be able to execute or sustain our growth strategy or we may require additional financing, which may not be available to us on satisfactory terms or at all.
To support our expanding business and execute our growth strategy, we will need significant amounts of capital, including funds to pay our lease obligations, build out new store spaces, laboratories and distribution centers, purchase inventory, pay personnel and further invest in our infrastructure and facilities. Further, our plans to grow our store base may create cash flow pressure if new locations do not perform as projected. In the past, we have primarily depended on cash flow from operations to fund our business and growth plans. Upon the closing of this offering, we expect that we will continue to primarily depend on cash flow from operations to fund our business and growth plans. If we do not generate sufficient cash flow from operations, we may need to obtain additional equity or debt financing. Tightening in the credit markets, low liquidity and volatility in the capital markets could result in diminished availability of credit, higher cost of borrowing and lack of confidence in the equity market, making it more difficult to obtain additional financing on terms that are favorable to us. If such financing is not available to us, or is not available on satisfactory terms, our ability to operate and expand our business could be curtailed and we may need to delay, limit or eliminate planned store openings or operations or other elements of our growth strategy.
Failure to recruit and retain vision care professionals for our stores could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our ability to hire and/or contract with vision care professionals for our stores is critical to our operations as well as our growth strategy. Our operations, like those of many of our competitors, depend on our ability to offer both eyewear and eye exams. In particular, our Americas Best brand promotes bundled offers of eyewear and eye exams, which require the availability of optometrists in or near our stores. Furthermore, many states require that opticians be licensed to dispense and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses. In addition, failure to have vision care professionals available in or near our stores could adversely affect our ability to win managed vision care contracts.
Our ability to attract and retain vision care professionals depends on several factors. We compete with other optical retail companies, health systems and group practices for vision care professionals. We, as well as the professional corporations that employ optometrists in our retail locations, could face difficulties attracting and retaining qualified professionals if we or such corporations fail to offer competitive compensation and benefits. Increased compensation for vision care professionals could raise our costs and put pressure on our margins. We believe that the demand for optometrists in particular is likely to exceed supply in the near future and that the costs to employ or retain optometrists are likely to increase, potentially materially, from current levels.
Additionally, our ability to recruit, hire and/or contract with vision care professionals is closely regulated. For example, there is a risk that state authorities in some jurisdictions may find that our contractual relationships with our optometrists or professional corporations that employ optometrists violate laws prohibiting the corporate practice of medicine/optometry, in which case we may be required to restructure these arrangements, which may make it more difficult for us to attract and retain their services. See Business―Regulatory Overview.
A material change in our relationship with vision care professionals, whether resulting from a dispute with an eye care practitioner or a group of eye care practitioners controlling multiple practice locations, a government or regulatory authority challenging our operating structure or our relationship with vision care professionals or other changes to applicable laws or regulations (or interpretations of the same), or the loss of these relationships, could impair our ability to provide services to our customers, cause our customers to go elsewhere for their optical needs, or result in legal sanctions against us. In addition, some optometrists provide, through their professional corporations, the vision care services at a number of our retail locations, exposing us to some concentration risk. A material change to any of the foregoing relationships could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Any difficulties or delays in securing the services of these professionals could also adversely affect our relationships with our host and legacy partners.
We are subject to extensive state, local and federal vision care and healthcare laws and regulations and failure to adhere to such laws and regulations would adversely affect our business.
We are subject to extensive state, local and federal vision care and healthcare laws and regulations. See Business―Regulatory Overview.
Many states regulate relationships between optical retailers and eye care practitioners. Many states interpret the corporate practice of medicine/optometry rules broadly to prohibit employment of eye care practitioners by corporations like us and to prohibit various financial arrangements, such as fee-splitting, between eye care practitioners and other entities. We have implemented arrangements with optometrists and professional corporations owned by eye care practitioners that regulators could seek to challenge, such as Americas Bests bundled offers of eye exams and eyewear. The laws applicable to us are also subject to evolving interpretations. As such, we must monitor our compliance with laws in every jurisdiction in which we operate on an ongoing basis and we cannot guarantee that subsequent interpretation of the applicable laws will not further circumscribe our business operations. In addition, the arrangements into which we have entered could subject us to additional scrutiny by federal and state regulatory bodies regarding federal and state fraud and abuse laws.
All states license the practice of ophthalmology and optometry and many states license opticians. The dispensing of prescription eyewear is further regulated in most states in which we do business. In some states, we are also required to register our stores. Our failure, or the failure of vision care professionals who are our employees or with whom we have contractual arrangements, to obtain and maintain appropriate licenses could result in the unavailability of vision care professionals in or near our stores, loss of sales and/or the closure of our stores without licensed professionals.
We must also comply with the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act, or FCLCA, and its implementing regulations, with respect to verifying contact lens prescriptions in connection with our sales of contact lenses. Our extended warranty plans may subject us to state laws, which vary by state, that regulate the sale of product service contracts. It is possible that regulators in certain states could determine that our warranty plans should be subject to these laws and mandate that we comply with various registration, disclosure and financial requirements. In such event, we could be required to incur enhanced compliance costs, as well as the risk of cease and desist orders and monetary penalties.
We are subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009, or HITECH Act, and the health data privacy, security and breach notification regulations issued pursuant to these statutes, which govern our collection, use, access, disclosure, transmission and/or storage of protected health information, or PHI, in connection with the sales of our products and services, customer service, billing and employment practices. In addition, there are state privacy, security and breach notification laws and regulations that apply to both PHI and personally identifiable information, or PII, collected by us. Our failure to effectively implement the required or addressable data privacy and security safeguards and breach notification procedures, or our failure to accurately anticipate the application or interpretation of these statutes, regulations and standards, could lead to invalidation or modification of our agreements with optometrists or professional corporations owned by eye care practitioners, create material civil and/or criminal liability for us or require us to change our business practices, which could result in adverse publicity, and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition to applicable U.S. law, the collection, use, access, disclosure, transmission and storage of PHI and other sensitive data is subject to regulation in foreign jurisdictions in which we do business or expect to do business in the future, in particular through the operations of our websites, and data privacy and security laws and regulations in some of these jurisdictions may be more stringent than those in the United States.
Our participation in federal healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, requires us to comply with laws regarding the way in which we conduct business and submit claims. These laws include the federal anti-kickback statute, which attaches criminal liability to unlawful inducements for the referral of business reimbursable under federally-funded healthcare programs; the federal self-referral laws, which attach repayment and monetary damages where a healthcare service provider seeks reimbursement for providing certain services to a patient who was referred by a physician that has certain types of direct or indirect financial relationships with such service provider; and the False Claims Act, or the FCA, which attaches per-claim liability and potentially treble damages to the filing of false claims for federal payment. Many states have also adopted similar laws that apply to any third-party payor including commercial plans. Our operating results could be negatively impacted by developments in these areas due to the costs of compliance in addition to possible civil and criminal penalties, litigation and exclusion from government healthcare programs in the event of deemed noncompliance.
In addition, a person who offers or transfers to a federal healthcare program beneficiary any remuneration, including the transfer of items or services for free or other than fair market value, that the person knows or should know is likely to influence the beneficiarys selection of a particular provider, practitioner or supplier of
Medicare or Medicaid payable items or services, may be liable for significant civil monetary penalties. Although this prohibition applies only to federal healthcare program beneficiaries, the provision of free items and services to patients covered by commercial payors may implicate applicable state laws related to, among other things, unlawful schemes to defraud, excessive fees for services, tortious interference with patient contracts and statutory or common law fraud. In addition, state regulators or boards of optometry may also challenge our promotional practices, including Americas Bests bundled offers, as, among other things, violating applicable state laws regarding unfair competition or false advertising to consumers. To the extent our promotional programs are found to be inconsistent with applicable laws, we may be required to restructure or discontinue such programs, or be subject to other significant penalties.
Eyeglasses and contact lenses are regulated as medical devices in the United States by the Federal Food and Drug Administration, or the FDA, and under the U.S. Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, or the FDC Act, such medical devices must meet a number of regulatory requirements. We do not hold any marketing authorizations for the eyeglasses and contact lenses that we sell as we serve as the retailer for third-party manufacturers devices. We cannot provide assurance that such third-party manufacturers eyeglasses or contact lenses we sell comply with these regulatory requirements. We also engage in certain manufacturing, repackaging and relabeling activities that subject us to direct oversight by the FDA under the FDC Act and its implementing regulations. If we, or any of the third-party manufacturers whose products we sell, fail to comply with applicable requirements, we or they may be subject to legal action by the U.S. Department of Justice, or the DOJ, on behalf of the FDA and/or various forms of FDA enforcement and compliance actions, which include recalls, fines, penalties, injunctions, seizures, prosecutions, adverse publicity (such as FDA press releases) or other adverse actions.
Our failure to comply with the applicable regulations could have severe consequences, including the closure of our stores, possible breaches of the agreements relating to certain of our brands, changes to our way of doing business, and the imposition of fines and penalties.
Future operational success depends on our ability to develop and maintain relationships with managed vision care companies, vision insurance providers and other third-party payors.
An increasing percentage of our customers receive vision insurance coverage through managed care payors. These payors represent an increasingly significant portion of our overall revenues and our revenue growth. Currently, a relatively small number of payors comprise the majority of our managed care revenues, subjecting us to concentration risk. Our future operational success could depend on our ability to negotiate contracts with managed vision care companies, vision insurance providers and other third-party payors, several of whom have significant market share. We may be unable to establish or maintain satisfactory relationships with managed care and other third-party payors. In addition, many managed care payors have existing provider structures in place that they may be unable or unwilling to change. Some vertically-integrated payors also have their own networks, and these payors may take actions to maintain or protect these networks in ways that negatively affect us. Increasing consolidation in the optical industry may give such payors greater market power which may adversely affect our ability to negotiate reimbursement rates under managed care arrangements. Our inability to enter into arrangements with managed care payors in the future could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, our loss of a significant managed care contract or relationship could have a significant negative impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If we are unable to maintain our current operating relationships with our host and legacy partners, our business, profitability and cash flows may be adversely affected.
We derive significant revenues and operating cash flows from our relationships with our legacy and host partners through our operations of 227 Vision Centers in Walmart stores, 29 Vista Optical locations within Fred Meyer stores and 56 Vista Optical locations on military bases. Through our subsidiary, FirstSight, we also arrange for the provision of optometric services at almost all of the optometric offices next to Walmart stores and Sams Club locations in California.
Termination of our host and legacy agreements could result in a reduction of our revenues and operating cash flows, which could be material and which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. The loss of our Vision Centers or Vista Optical locations could impair our ability to attract
and retain management and retail associates, compete for managed vision care contracts, obtain favorable terms, such as discounts and rebates, from optical vendors and generate cash to fund our business and service our debt obligations. We may seek to replace any lost host or legacy locations with new Americas Best or Eyeglass World stores but we may not be able to replace the lost revenues and cash flows.
For example, our current agreement with Walmart presents a variety of risks. This agreement permits Walmart to control many aspects of the retail operations at our Vision Centers, including pricing, merchandising and similar matters. If Walmart exercises its rights under this agreement in a way that adversely affects us, our sole remedy would be to terminate the agreement after participating in an informal resolution and, if necessary, a mediation process. There are no assurances that Walmart will not seek to exercise these rights in a manner that is materially adverse to our interests. Our agreement with Walmart also allows Walmart to collect penalties if the Vision Centers do not generate a requisite amount of revenues. We may not be able to maintain the performance levels required and may be forced to pay penalties to Walmart or default under this agreement. Further, a breach by us of the terms and conditions of this agreement could cause us to lose all management fees derived under this agreement, which could adversely affect our financial position and results of operations.
We depend on our distribution centers and optical laboratories. The loss of, or disruption in the operations of, one or more of these facilities may adversely affect our ability to process and fulfill customer orders and deliver our products in a timely manner, or at all, and may result in quality issues, which would adversely affect our reputation, our business and our profitability.
Substantially all of our inventory is shipped directly from suppliers to our two distribution centers in Lawrenceville, Georgia and Columbus, Ohio where the inventory is then processed, sorted and shipped to our stores or to our laboratories for further processing using third-party carriers. We operate laboratory facilities in Lawrenceville, Georgia; St. Cloud, Minnesota; and Salt Lake City, Utah. We also have outsourcing relationships with third-party laboratories in Mexico and China. These laboratories process most of the lenses ordered by our customers in our stores, as well as on our websites. Once processed at the laboratories, the finished products are returned to our distribution centers for shipment to stores, our customers or our business partners.
We depend in large part on the orderly operation of this receiving and distribution process, which depends, in turn, on adherence to shipping schedules and effective management of our distribution centers. Increase in transportation costs (including increases in fuel costs), increased shipping costs, issues with overseas shipments, supplier-side delays, reductions in the transportation capacity of carriers, labor strikes or shortages in the transportation industry, disruptions to the national and international transportation infrastructure and unexpected delivery interruptions or delays also have the potential to derail our distribution process. We face additional risks related to the laboratories in China and Mexico, including port of entry risks such as longshoremen strikes, import restrictions, foreign government regulations, trade restrictions, customs and duties.
In addition, if we change the transportation companies we use, we could face logistical difficulties that could adversely affect deliveries and we could incur costs and expend resources in connection with such change. We also may not be able to obtain terms as favorable as those received from the third-party transportation providers we currently use, which could increase our costs. We also may not anticipate changing demands on our distribution system, including the effect of any expansion we may need to implement in our distribution centers.
Additionally, events beyond our control, such as disruptions in operations due to natural or man-made disasters, inclement weather conditions, accidents, system failures, power outages, political instability, break-in, server failure, work stoppages, slowdowns or strikes by employees, acts of terrorism, widespread illness and other unforeseen or catastrophic events, could damage our optical laboratories and/or distribution centers or render them inoperable, making it difficult or impossible for us to process customer orders for an extended period of time. Such events may also result in delays in our receipt of inventory and the delivery of merchandise between our stores, our optical laboratories and our distribution centers. We could also incur significantly higher costs and longer lead times associated with distributing inventory during the time it takes for us to reopen or replace one or both of our distribution centers. In addition, the unavailability of, or disruptions to, equipment to process lenses and assemble custom-made eyeglasses or trained operators of such equipment in our optical laboratories could adversely affect our ability to fulfill customer orders in a timely manner. Any disruption to the laboratories operations may reduce or impair the quality of assembled eyeglasses.
The inability to fulfill, or any delays in processing, customer orders through our laboratory network or any quality issues could result in the loss of customers, issuances of refunds or credits and may also adversely affect
our reputation. The success of our stores depends on their timely receipt of products for sale and any repeated, intermittent or long-term disruption in, or failures of, the operations of our distribution centers and/or optical laboratories could result in lower sales and profitability, a loss of loyalty to our brands and excess inventory. The insurance we maintain for business interruption may not cover all risk, or be sufficient to cover all of our potential losses, may not continue to be available to us on acceptable terms, if at all, and any insurance proceeds may not be paid to us in a timely manner.
We face risks associated with vendors from whom our products are sourced.
We purchase all of our merchandise from domestic and international vendors. For our business to be successful, our suppliers must be willing and able to provide us with products in substantial quantities, in compliance with regulatory requirements, at acceptable costs and on a timely basis. Our ability to obtain a sufficient selection or volume of merchandise on a timely basis at competitive prices could suffer as a result of any deterioration or change in our vendor relationships or events that adversely affect our vendors.
Other than our contracts for the supply of spectacle lenses and our private label contact lenses, we typically do not enter into long-term contracts with our vendors and, as such, we operate without any contractual assurances of continued supply, pricing or access to new products. Any of our vendors could discontinue supplying us with desired products in sufficient quantities or offer us less favorable terms on future transactions for a variety of reasons. The benefits we currently experience from our vendor relationships could be adversely affected if our vendors:
|•||discontinue selling merchandise to us;|
|•||enter into arrangements with competitors that could impair our ability to sell their products, including by giving our competitors exclusivity arrangements or limiting our access to certain products;|
|•||sell similar or identical products to our competitors with similar or better pricing, some of whom may already purchase merchandise in significantly greater volume and at lower prices than we do;|
|•||raise the prices they charge us;|
|•||refuse to allow us to return merchandise purchased from them;|
|•||change pricing terms to require us to pay on delivery or upfront, including as a result of changes in the credit relationships some of our vendors have with their various lending institutions;|
|•||lengthen their lead times; or|
|•||initiate or expand sales of their products to retail customers directly through their own stores, catalogs or on the Internet and compete with us directly.|
Events that adversely impact our vendors could impair our ability to obtain adequate and timely supplies. Such events include, among others, difficulties or problems associated with our vendors business, the financial instability and labor problems of vendors, merchandise quality and safety issues, natural or man-made disasters, inclement weather conditions, war, acts of terrorism and other political instability, economic conditions, shipment issues, the availability of raw materials and increased production costs. Our vendors may be forced to reduce their production, shut down their operations or file for bankruptcy. The occurrence of one or more of these events could impact our ability to get products to our customers, result in disruptions to our operations, increase our costs and decrease our profitability.
We also source merchandise directly from suppliers outside of the United States. Additionally, a significant amount of our domestically-purchased merchandise is manufactured abroad. Global sourcing and foreign trade involve numerous factors and uncertainties beyond our control including increased shipping costs, the imposition of additional import or trade restrictions, including legal or economic restrictions on overseas suppliers ability to produce and deliver products, increased custom duties and tariffs, unforeseen delays in customs clearance of goods, more restrictive quotas, loss of a most favored nation trading status, currency exchange rates, transportation delays, port of entry issues and foreign government regulations, political instability and economic uncertainties in the countries from which we or our vendors source our products. Our sourcing operations may also be hurt by health concerns regarding infectious diseases in countries in which our merchandise is produced.
Moreover, negative press or reports about internationally manufactured products may sway public opinion, and thus customer confidence, away from the products sold in our stores. These and other issues affecting our international vendors or internationally manufactured merchandise could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Furthermore, attempts by the Trump administration to impose significant tariffs or other restrictions on imports, or to withdraw from or materially modify the North American Free Trade Agreement and other international trade agreements, could have an adverse impact on our business. For example, President Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on imports from China and Mexico where our outsourced optical laboratories are located. Any such restrictions, tariffs or other changes could lead to additional costs, delays in shipments, embargos and other uncertainties that could negatively impact our relationships with our international vendors and materially adversely affect our business. Additionally, Congress may include a border adjustment tax as part of tax reform legislation. If such a tax is enacted, we could lose the ability to deduct the cost of the goods we import. Because we import, directly or indirectly through suppliers, the substantial majority of the goods we sell, such a tax could materially increase our federal tax liability. We might then need to increase our retail prices to attempt to cover this increased liability. Any increase in our retail prices could have an adverse impact on our ability to market our goods and services to our target customers.
Material changes in the pricing practices of our suppliers could negatively impact our profitability. For example, we have been subject to the unilateral pricing policies implemented by certain contact lens manufacturers, which policies mandated the minimum prices at which certain contact lenses could be sold to consumers. Such manufacturers could refuse to supply us with their products if they deem us in breach of such policies. Our vendors may also increase their pricing if their raw materials became more expensive. The raw materials used to manufacture our products are subject to availability constraints and price volatility. Our vendors may pass the increase in sourcing costs to us through price increases, thereby impacting our margins.
In addition, some of our vendors may not have the capacity to supply us with sufficient merchandise to keep pace with our growth plans, especially if we need significantly greater amounts of inventory. In such cases, our ability to pursue our growth strategy will depend in part upon our ability to develop new vendor relationships.
Some of our suppliers are owned by vertically-integrated companies with retail divisions that compete with us and, as such, we are exposed to the risk that these suppliers may not be willing, or may become unwilling, to sell their products to us on acceptable terms, or at all.
The optical retail industry is highly competitive, and if we do not compete successfully, our business may be adversely impacted.
We compete directly with national, regional and local retailers, including other optical retail chains, warehouse clubs, mass merchandisers and internet-based retailers. We also compete with independent ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians located in our markets as they often provide many of the same goods and services we provide. The retail landscape is changing as a result of changes in consumers shopping habits, as well as the introduction of new technologies such as online vision exams. See Business—Our Competition.
Some of our competitors are larger companies and have greater financial and operational resources, greater brand recognition and broader geographic presence than we do. As a result, they may be able to engage in extensive and prolonged price promotions or otherwise offer competitive prices, which may adversely affect our business. They may also be able to spend more than we do for advertising. We may be at a substantial disadvantage to larger competitors with greater economies of scale. If our costs are greater compared to those of our competitors, the pricing of our products and services may not be as attractive, thus depressing sales or the profitability of our products and services. Our competitors may expand into markets in which we currently operate and we remain vulnerable to the marketing power and high level of customer recognition of these larger competitors and to the risk that these competitors or others could attract our customer base. Some of our competitors are vertically integrated and are also engaged in the manufacture and distribution of eyewear as well as managed care. These competitors can leverage this structure to their advantage to better compete and some of these vertically-integrated organizations have significant market power and could potentially use this power in ways that could make it more difficult for us to compete. We purchase many of our products from suppliers who are affiliates of our competitors. We also compete for managed vision care contracts with certain of our
competitors who are affiliates of managed care payors. In addition, if any of our competitors were to consolidate operations, such consolidation would exacerbate the aforementioned risks.
We may not continue to be able to successfully compete against existing or future competitors. Our inability to respond effectively to competitive pressures, improved performance by our competitors and changes in the retail markets could result in lost market share and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We are dependent on a limited number of suppliers.
We rely on a limited number of vendors to supply the majority of our eyeglass frames, eyeglass lenses and contact lenses, and are thus exposed to concentration of supplier risk. In particular, we have agreed to exclusively purchase almost all of our spectacle lenses from one supplier. During fiscal year 2016, two vendors supplied 44% of frames, two vendors provided 89% of lenses and three vendors supplied 94% of contact lenses. If our suppliers experience difficulties or disruptions in their operations or if we were to lose any significant supplier, we may be unable to establish additional or replacement sources for our products that meet our quality controls and standards in a timely manner or on commercially reasonable terms, if at all. As a few major suppliers dominate the optical retail industry, the risks associated with finding alternative sources may be exacerbated.
Our and our vendors systems containing personal information and payment card data of our retail store and e-commerce customers, employees and other third parties, could be breached, which could subject us to adverse publicity, costly government enforcement actions or private litigation.
We collect, process and store sensitive and confidential information, including our proprietary business information and that of our customers, employees, suppliers and business partners, including Walmart and Sams Club. The secure processing, maintenance and transmission of this information is critical to our operations. The regulatory environment surrounding information security and privacy is increasingly demanding, with the frequent imposition of new and changing requirements across our business. For instance, as a health care provider, we could be forced, in the event of a data breach, to report the breach not only to affected customers, but also to various public agencies and media outlets, potentially harming our reputation and our business. In addition, our customers and employees have a high expectation that we will adequately protect their personal information from cyber-attack or other security breaches. Our business partners may have contractual rights of indemnification against us in the event that their customer or proprietary business information is released as a result of a breach of our information systems. In such an event, these business partners could also seek to terminate our contracts with them.
Our systems and those of our third-party service providers and business partners may be vulnerable to security breaches, attacks by hackers, acts of vandalism, computer viruses, misplaced or lost data, human errors or other similar events. If unauthorized parties gain access to our networks or databases, or those of our third-party service providers or business partners, they may be able to steal, publish, delete, use inappropriately or modify our private and sensitive third-party information including personal health information, credit card information and personal identification information. In addition, employees may intentionally or inadvertently cause data or security breaches that result in unauthorized release of personal or confidential information. Because the techniques used to circumvent security systems can be highly sophisticated, change frequently, are often not recognized until launched against a target and may originate from less regulated and remote areas around the world, we may be unable to proactively address all possible techniques or implement adequate preventive measures for all situations. Any such breach, attack, virus or other event could result in costly investigations and litigation exceeding applicable insurance coverage or contractual rights available to us, civil or criminal penalties, operational changes or other response measures, loss of consumer confidence in our security measures, and negative publicity that could adversely affect our financial condition, results of operations and reputation.
Further, if we are unable to comply with the security standards established by banks and the payment card industry, we may be subject to fines, restrictions, and expulsion from card acceptance programs, which could adversely affect our retail operations. As privacy and information security laws and regulations change, we may incur additional compliance costs.
Any failure, inadequacy, interruption, security failure or breach of our information technology systems, whether owned by us or outsourced or managed by third parties, could harm our ability to effectively operate our business and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We rely heavily on our information technology systems for many functions across our operations, including managing our supply chain and inventory, processing customer transactions in our stores, allocating lens processing jobs to the appropriate laboratories, our financial accounting and reporting, compensating our employees and operating our websites. Our ability to effectively manage our business and coordinate the sourcing, distribution and sale of our products depends significantly on the reliability and capacity of these systems. Such systems are subject to damage or interruption from power outages or damages, telecommunications problems, data corruption, software errors, network failures, security breaches, acts of war or terrorist attacks, fire, flood and natural disasters. Our servers could be affected by physical or electronic break-ins, and computer viruses or similar disruptions may occur. A system outage may also cause the loss of important data. Our existing safety systems, data backup, access protection, user management and information technology emergency planning may not be sufficient to prevent data loss or long-term network outages.
In addition, we may have to upgrade our existing information technology systems from time to time in order for such systems to withstand the increasing needs of our expanding business. We rely on certain hardware, telecommunications and software vendors to maintain and periodically upgrade many of these systems so that we can continue to support our business. Costs and potential problems and interruptions associated with the implementation of new or upgraded systems and technology or with maintenance or adequate support of existing systems could disrupt or reduce the efficiency of our operations. We also depend on our information technology staff. If we cannot meet our staffing needs in this area, we may not be able to fulfill our technology initiatives while continuing to provide maintenance on existing systems.
We could be required to make significant capital expenditures to remediate any such failure, malfunction or breach with our information technology systems. Further, additional investment needed to upgrade and expand our information technology infrastructure will require significant investment of additional resources and capital, which may not always be available or available on favorable terms. Any material disruption or slowdown of our systems, including those caused by our failure to successfully upgrade our systems, and our inability to convert to alternate systems in an efficient and timely manner could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
An overall decline in the health of the economy and other factors impacting consumer spending, such as the timing and issuance of tax refunds and governmental instability, may affect consumer purchases, which could reduce demand for our products and materially harm our sales, profitability and financial condition.
Our business depends on consumer demand for our products and, consequently, is sensitive to a number of factors that influence consumer confidence and spending, such as general economic conditions, consumer disposable income, energy and fuel prices, recession and fears of recession, unemployment, minimum wages, availability of consumer credit, consumer debt levels, conditions in the housing market, interest rates, tax rates and policies, inflation, consumer confidence in future economic conditions and political conditions, war and fears of war, inclement weather, natural disasters, terrorism, outbreak of viruses or widespread illness and consumer perceptions of personal well-being and security.
Reduced customer confidence and spending cutbacks may result in reduced demand for our merchandise and may force us to take inventory markdowns. Reduced demand also may require increased selling and promotional expenses. Prolonged or pervasive economic downturns could slow the pace of new store openings or cause current stores to close.
Furthermore, our target market, which consists of cost-conscious and low-income consumers, is sensitive to various factors outside of our control. For example, this population relies on tax refunds to pay for eyewear and eye care. A delay in the issuance of tax refunds can accordingly have a negative impact on our financial results. Consumers could also alter how they utilize tax refund proceeds. In addition, periods of instability in the government can also cause this population to either delay or refrain from making such purchases. We believe these factors came into play in the three months ended April 1, 2017 and had a negative impact on our financial results when the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, announced that tax refunds would be issued significantly later than they had been in 2016. In addition, we believe that instability in the federal government, coupled with
a renewed emphasis on immigration matters, further caused our target population to reduce its spending. A continuation of these and similar circumstances could have a material negative impact on our financial performance. Because of the importance of the first quarter for us, a significant downward trend in the first quarter could have a substantial negative impact on our annual financial results.
Our growth strategy could strain our existing resources and cause the performance of our existing stores to suffer.
Our planned expansion will place increased demands on our existing operational, managerial, supply-chain and administrative resources. These increased demands could strain our resources and cause us to operate our business less effectively, which in turn could cause the performance of our new and existing stores to suffer.
As our store base grows, we will need to continually evaluate the adequacy of our laboratory, distribution and information system capabilities. Our laboratories and distribution centers have a finite capacity and, to the extent we grow beyond this capacity, we will need to expand our current laboratories and/or distribution centers or add new laboratories and/or distribution capabilities, the cost of which could be material. Implementing new operating capabilities or changing existing operating capabilities could present challenges we do not anticipate and could negatively affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. For example, should we open additional laboratories or distribution centers, any related construction or expansion projects entail risks which could cause delays and cost overruns, such as unavailability of suitable space, shortages of materials, shortages of skilled labor or work stoppages, unforeseen construction, scheduling, engineering, environmental or geological problems, weather interference, fires or other casualty losses and unanticipated cost increases. The completion date and ultimate cost of future projects could differ significantly from initial expectations due to construction-related or other reasons. We cannot guarantee that any project will be completed on time or within established budgets. Any delay or increased costs associated with any project could adversely affect the financial and overall performance of our existing and planned new stores.
In addition, opening new stores in our established markets may result in inadvertent oversaturation, temporarily or permanently divert customers and sales from our existing stores to new stores and reduce comparable store sales, thus adversely affecting our overall financial performance. Furthermore, we have opened and expect to continue to open Americas Best and Eyeglass World stores in close proximity to one another. However, we may not be able to effectively manage stores of both brands in the same market, and this close proximity may cause the performance of such Americas Best and/or Eyeglass World stores to suffer.
We cannot anticipate all of the demands that our expanding operations will impose on our business, personnel and systems and our failure to address such demands and to profitably manage our growth could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If we fail to retain our existing senior management team or attract qualified new personnel, such failure could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
Our business requires disciplined execution at all levels of our organization. This execution requires an experienced and talented management team. If we were to lose the benefit of the experience, efforts and abilities of key executive personnel, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Competition for skilled and experienced management is intense, and we may not be successful in attracting and retaining new qualified personnel required to grow and operate our business profitably.
We are a low-cost provider and our business model relies on the low cost of inputs. Factors such as wage rate increases, inflation, cost increases, increases in raw material prices and energy prices could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Increases in compensation and other expenses for vision care professionals, as well as our other associates, may adversely affect our profitability. Wage and hour regulations, such as regulations issued in 2016 by the U.S. Department of Labor relating to minimum wages and overtime pay, can exacerbate this risk. Other future cost increases, such as increases in the cost of merchandise, shipping rates, raw material prices, freight costs and store occupancy costs, may also reduce our profitability. These cost increases may be the result of inflationary pressures which could further reduce our sales or profitability. Increases in other operating costs, including changes in energy prices and lease and utility costs, may increase our cost of products sold or selling, general
and administrative expenses. Our low price model and competitive pressures in the optical retail industry may inhibit our ability to reflect these increased costs in the prices of our products, in which case such increased costs could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our success depends upon our marketing, advertising and promotional efforts. If we are unable to implement them successfully, or if our competitors are more effective than we are, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We use marketing and promotional programs to attract customers to our stores and to encourage purchases by our customers. If we fail to successfully develop and implement marketing, advertising and promotional strategies, we may be unable to achieve and maintain brand awareness, and customer traffic to our stores and/or websites may be reduced. We may not be able to advertise cost-effectively in new or smaller markets in which we have lower store density, which could slow growth at such stores. Changes in the amount and degree of promotional intensity or merchandising strategy by our competitors could cause us to have difficulties in retaining existing customers and attracting new customers. If the efficacy of our marketing or promotional activities declines or if such activities of our competitors are more effective than ours, or if for any other reason we lose the loyalty of our customers, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Further, in connection with our planned expansion in California, we have launched a national advertising campaign as opposed to our current local advertising campaigns. We cannot provide assurances that a national advertising campaign will be cost-effective or successful or that we will continue such a campaign.
We are subject to risks associated with leasing substantial amounts of space, including future increases in occupancy costs.
We lease our Americas Best and Eyeglass World store locations, our corporate headquarters, the AC Lens corporate office, the FirstSight corporate office, our laboratories in Georgia and Utah and our distribution centers. We also lease our Vista Optical locations inside Fred Meyer stores. As a result, we are susceptible to changes in the property rental market and increases in our occupancy costs.
The success of our business depends, in part, on our ability to identify suitable premises for our stores and to negotiate acceptable lease terms. Our ability to effectively renew our existing store leases or obtain store leases to open new stores depends on the availability of store premises that meet our criteria for traffic, square footage, lease economics, demographics and other factors. We may not be able to renew or extend our existing store leases on acceptable terms, or at all, and may have to abandon desirable locations or renew leases on unfavorable terms.
Most leases for our stores provide for a minimum rent and typically include escalating rent increases over time. In certain circumstances we pay a percentage rent based upon sales after certain minimum thresholds are achieved. Our failure to achieve these thresholds could cause our occupancy costs for these locations to increase materially on a percentage of sales basis. The leases generally require us to pay insurance, utilities, real estate taxes and repair and maintenance expenses. Our substantial lease obligations could have significant negative consequences, including:
|•||requiring that a substantial portion of our available cash be applied to pay our rental obligations, reducing cash available for other purposes and reducing our operating profitability;|
|•||increasing our vulnerability to general adverse economic and industry conditions;|
|•||limiting our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to changes in, our business or in the industry in which we compete; and|
|•||limiting our ability to obtain additional financing.|
We depend on cash flows from operations to pay our lease expenses and to fulfill our other cash needs. If our business does not generate sufficient cash flow from operating activities, and sufficient funds are not otherwise available to us from borrowings or other sources, we may not be able to service our lease expenses, grow our business, respond to competitive changes or fund our other liquidity and capital needs, which could harm the business. If we are not able to make the required payments under our leases, landlords with a contractual or statutory security interest in the assets of the relevant stores may, among other things, repossess those assets, which could adversely affect our ability to conduct our operations.
Further, the substantial majority of our leased sites are both currently and in the future expected to be subject to long-term non-cancellable leases. If an existing or future store is not profitable and we decide to close it, we may nonetheless be obligated to perform our obligations under the applicable lease including, among other things, paying the base rent and other charges for the balance of the lease term. Even if a lease has an early cancellation clause, we may not satisfy the contractual requirements for early cancellation under that lease.
As we expand our store base, particularly in certain markets that are more expensive, such as California, our lease expense and our cash outlays for rent under lease agreements may increase. Our inability to enter into new leases or renew existing leases on terms acceptable to us or be released from our obligations under leases for stores that we close could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We could be adversely affected by product liability, product recall or personal injury issues.
We could be adversely impacted by the supply of defective products, including the infiltration of counterfeit products into the supply chain and contamination or product mishandling issues. Product liability or personal injury claims may be asserted against us with respect to any of the products we sell or services we provide. The provision of professional eye care services by the vision care professionals employed by us or with whom we have contractual arrangements also increases our exposure to professional liability claims. There is a risk that these claims may exceed, or fall outside the scope of, our insurance coverage. In addition, a government or other regulatory agency could require us or one of our vendors or suppliers to remove a particular product from the market for, among other reasons, failure to adhere to product safety requirements or quality control standards. Product recalls can result in the disposal or write-off of merchandise, harm our reputation and cause us to lose customers, particularly if those recalls cause consumers to question the performance, quality, safety or reliability of our products. Any significant returns or warranty claims, as well as the timing of such returns or claims, could result in significant additional costs to us and could adversely affect our results of operations.
We rely on our suppliers to control the quality of both eyeglass components and contact lenses. We are not involved in the manufacture of the merchandise we purchase from our vendors for sale to our customers, and we do not independently investigate whether these vendors legally hold sufficient intellectual property rights to the merchandise that they are manufacturing or distributing. Our ability to seek recourse for liabilities and recover costs from our vendors depends on our contractual rights as well as on the financial condition and integrity of the vendors. We also purchase a portion of our products on a closeout basis. Some of these products are obtained through brokers or intermediaries rather than through manufacturers. The closeout nature of a portion of our products sometimes makes it more difficult for us to investigate all aspects of these products. Moreover, we engage in certain manufacturing, repackaging and relabeling activities at our optical laboratories and at certain Eyeglass World stores. If the products that we manufacture, repackage, or relabel are defective or otherwise result in product liability or personal injury claims against us, our business could be adversely affected and we could be subject to adverse regulatory action.
If our merchandise or services do not meet applicable governmental safety standards or our customers expectations regarding quality or safety, we could experience lost sales and increased costs, be exposed to legal and reputational risk and face fines or penalties which could materially adversely affect our financial results.
Our substantial leverage could adversely affect our ability to raise additional capital to fund our operations, limit our ability to react to changes in the economy or our industry, expose us to interest rate risk to the extent of our variable rate debt and prevent us from meeting our debt obligations.
We have a significant amount of indebtedness. As of April 1, 2017, prior to giving effect to this offering and the use of proceeds therefrom, we had approximately $931.5 million of aggregate principal amount of indebtedness outstanding (excluding capital lease obligations). Our high degree of leverage could have important consequences for us, including:
|•||requiring us to utilize a substantial portion of our cash flows from operations to make payments on our indebtedness, reducing the availability of our cash flows to fund working capital, capital expenditures, general corporate and other purposes;|
|•||increasing our vulnerability to adverse economic, industry, or competitive developments;|
|•||making it more difficult for us to satisfy our obligations with respect to our indebtedness, and any failure to comply with the obligations of any of our debt instruments, including any financial maintenance and restrictive covenants, could result in an event of default under the agreements governing our indebtedness;|
|•||restricting us from capitalizing on business opportunities;|
|•||limiting our ability to obtain additional financing for working capital, capital expenditures, execution of our business strategy, debt service requirements, acquisitions, and other general corporate purposes; and|
|•||limiting our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business or market conditions and placing us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors who are less highly leveraged and who, therefore, may be able to take advantage of opportunities that our leverage prevents us from exploiting.|
In addition, as of April 1, 2017, after inclusion of $500.0 million interest rate swaps fixing a portion of the variable rate debt, $431.5 million, or 46.3%, of our term loans was subject to variable rates. As a result, an increase in interest rates, whether because of an increase in market interest rates or a decrease in our creditworthiness, could increase the cost of servicing our debt and could materially reduce our profitability and cash flows.
We are subject to managed vision care laws and regulations.
We are engaged in managed vision care, both as a managed care entity through our subsidiary, FirstSight, and as a provider to managed care payors and insurers, and are subject to additional regulations as a result. FirstSight is licensed as a single-service HMO and is subject to the managed care laws of the State of California and is comprehensively regulated by the California Department of Managed Health Care, or the DMHC. FirstSights failure to comply with the regulations and requirements under such managed care laws may result in the imposition of various sanctions, including the suspension or revocation of FirstSights license, civil penalties and appointment of a receiver, among others. Material changes to the operations of FirstSight, including the opening of Americas Best locations outside of defined service areas, must be approved by the DMHC. This approval process can be complex and can cause delays in the projected opening of our stores. The sale of managed care products by FirstSight is essential to our expansion of Americas Best in California, and the suspension or loss of our license and our failure to comply with applicable regulatory requirements could have a material adverse impact on our expansion plans in California.
In addition, our Eyecare Club programs may be subject to regulation under managed care and related state laws, including those of California, where these programs are offered by FirstSight. Our Eyecare Club programs may also subject us to state statutes regulating discount medical plans, requiring the licensing or registration of organizations that provide discounted access to health care providers. It is possible that state regulators could determine that we are operating as a discount medical plan and as such are subject to various registration, disclosure and solvency requirements. We could incur increased compliance costs as a result. We would also be subject to the risk of cease and desist orders and monetary penalties.
We rely on third-party coverage and reimbursement, including government programs, for an increasing portion of our revenues, the future reduction of which could adversely affect our results of operations.
We rely on third-party coverage and reimbursement, including government and private insurance plans, such as managed vision care plans, for an increasing portion of our net revenue. We are generally reimbursed for the vision care services and products that we provide through payment systems managed by private insurance companies, managed care organizations and governmental agencies. Coverage and payment levels are determined at each third-party payors discretion, and we have no direct control over third-party payors decision-making with respect to coverage and payment levels. Coverage restrictions and reductions in reimbursement levels or payment methodologies may negatively impact our sales and profits. Many third-party payors may continue to explore cost-containment strategies that may potentially impact coverage and/or payment levels for our services and products and impose utilization restrictions and risk-based compensation arrangements. We cannot provide any assurances that we will be able to maintain or increase our participation in managed care arrangements or that we will be adequately reimbursed by managed care payors, vision insurance providers and other third-party payors for the services we provide and the products we sell. Furthermore, any changes to or repeal of the Patient
Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, in connection with the new government administration or otherwise, may reduce or eliminate coverage or reimbursement rates of insurance-funded eye exams or eyewear.
Our profitability and cash flows may be negatively affected if we are not successful in managing our inventory balances and inventory shrinkage.
Efficient inventory management is a key component of our business success and profitability. To be successful, we must maintain sufficient inventory levels to meet our customers demands without allowing those levels to increase to such an extent that the costs to distribution centers, laboratories and stores to hold the goods unduly impacts our financial results. If our buying and distribution decisions do not accurately predict customer trends or spending levels in general or at particular stores or if we inappropriately price products, we may have to take unanticipated markdowns and discounts to dispose of obsolete or excess inventory or record potential write-downs relating to the value of obsolete or excess inventory. For example, in the three months ended April 1, 2017, we wrote off $2.0 million of inventory related to a slow-moving contact lens product which had expired or would expire prior to possible sale. Conversely, if we underestimate future demand for a particular product or do not respond quickly enough to replenish our best performing products, we may have a shortfall in inventory of such products, likely leading to unfulfilled orders, reduced revenue and customer dissatisfaction.
Our business is partly dependent on our ability to strategically source a sufficient volume and variety of brand name merchandise at opportunistic pricing. Some of our products are sourced from suppliers on a closeout basis or with significantly reduced prices for specific reasons, and we are not always able to purchase specific merchandise on a recurring basis and we may not have control over the supply, design, cost or availability of some products we offer for sale in our stores. We also compete with other retailers for discounted or closeout merchandise to sell in our stores. To the extent that certain of our suppliers are better able to manage their inventory levels and reduce the amount of their excess inventory, the amount of discount or closeout merchandise available to us could also be materially reduced, potentially compromising profit margin for procured merchandise.
Maintaining adequate inventory requires significant attention and monitoring of market trends, local markets, developments with suppliers and our distribution network, and it is not certain that we will be effective in our inventory management. We are subject to the risk of inventory loss or theft and we may experience higher rates of inventory shrinkage or incur increased security costs to combat inventory theft. In addition, any casualty or disruption to our laboratories, distribution centers or stores may damage or destroy our inventory located there. As we expand our operations, it may be more difficult to effectively manage our inventory. If we are not successful in managing our inventory balances, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our e-commerce business faces distinct risks, and our failure to successfully manage it could have a negative impact on our profitability.
As an e-commerce retailer, we encounter risks and difficulties frequently experienced by internet-based businesses. The successful operation of our e-commerce business as well as our ability to provide a positive shopping experience that will generate orders and drive subsequent visits depends on efficient and uninterrupted operation of our order-taking and fulfillment operations. Risks associated with our e-commerce business include:
|•||uncertainties associated with our website including changes in required technology interfaces, website downtime and other technical failures, costs and technical issues as we upgrade our website software, inadequate system capacity, computer viruses, human error, security breaches, legal claims related to our website operations and e-commerce fulfillment;|
|•||disruptions in telephone service or power outages;|
|•||reliance on third parties for computer hardware and software, as well as delivery of merchandise to our customers;|
|•||rapid technology changes;|
|•||credit or debit card fraud and other payment processing related issues;|
|•||changes in applicable federal, state and international regulations;|
|•||liability for online content;|
|•||cybersecurity and consumer privacy concerns and regulation; and|
|•||natural disasters or adverse weather conditions.|
In addition, we have contractual relationships with several third parties, including Walmart and Sams Club, whereby we host websites for the online sale of contact lenses and other optical products and perform related back office functions for these parties. We could be exposed to contractual liability to these third parties in the event of a failure or disruption to these websites or our failure to properly provide the services called for by these agreements.
Our online sales also expose us to broader applicability of regulations, as well as additional regulations, such as the prescription verification and other requirements under the FCLCA, rules relating to registration of internet sellers, certain requirements under the Treasury Departments Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or the FCPA, anti-money laundering and trade sanction laws and similar anti-corruption, anti-bribery and international trade laws. Problems in any of these areas could result in a reduction in sales, increased costs, sanctions or penalties and damage to our reputation and brands.
In addition, we must keep up to date with competitive technology trends, including the use of new or improved technology, creative user interfaces and other e-commerce marketing tools such as paid search and mobile applications, among others, which may increase our costs and which may not increase sales or attract customers. Our competitors, some of whom have greater resources than we do, may also be able to benefit from changes in e-commerce technologies, which could harm our competitive position. If we are unable to allow real-time and accurate visibility to product availability when customers are ready to purchase, quickly and efficiently fulfill our customers orders using the fulfillment and payment methods they demand, provide a convenient and consistent experience for our customers regardless of the ultimate sales channel or effectively manage our online sales, our ability to compete and our results of operations could be adversely affected.
Furthermore, if our e-commerce business successfully grows, it may do so in part by attracting existing customers, rather than new customers, who choose to purchase products from us online rather than from our brick and mortar stores, thereby detracting from the financial performance of our stores.
Our operating results and inventory levels fluctuate on a seasonal basis.
Our business is subject to seasonal fluctuation. We typically realize a higher portion of net sales during the first fiscal quarter, due, among other things, to the timing of tax refunds and the impact of healthcare plan resets after the close of the prior year. Adverse events, such as higher unemployment, lapses in or the lack of insurance coverage, delays in the issuance of tax refunds, deteriorating economic conditions, public transportation disruptions, or unanticipated adverse weather or travel conditions can deter consumers from shopping. Any significant decrease in net sales during the first fiscal quarter could have a material adverse effect on us and could negatively impact our annual results. In addition, in order to prepare for our peak shopping quarters, we must increase the staffing at our stores and order and keep in stock more merchandise than we carry during other parts of the year. This staffing increase and inventory build-up may require us to expend cash faster than is generated by our operations during this period. Any unanticipated decrease in demand for our products during such period could require us to sell excess inventory at a substantial markdown, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Certain technological advances, greater availability of, or increased consumer preferences for, vision correction alternatives to prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses, and future drug development for the correction of vision-related problems may reduce the demand for our products and adversely impact our business and profitability.
Technological advances in vision care, including the development of new or improved products, as well as future drug development for the correction of vision-related problems, could make our existing products less attractive or even obsolete. Several companies have developed technologies for the remote delivery of eye examinations and eye refractions. If consumers accept the use of these technologies, they could become less likely to obtain an in-person eye examination and therefore less likely to shop at our retail locations. Additionally, the greater availability and acceptance, or reductions in the cost, of vision correction alternatives to prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses, such as corneal refractive surgery procedures, including
radial-keratotomy, photo-refractive keratotomy, or PRK, and LASIK, may reduce the demand for our products, lower our sales and thereby adversely impact our business and profitability.
Our debt agreements contain restrictions that limit our flexibility in operating our business.
Our credit agreements impose significant operating and financial restrictions. These covenants may limit our ability and the ability of our subsidiaries, under certain circumstances, to, among other things:
|•||incur additional indebtedness;|
|•||create or incur liens;|
|•||engage in certain fundamental changes, including mergers or consolidations;|
|•||sell or transfer assets;|
|•||pay dividends and distributions on our subsidiaries’ capital stock;|
|•||make acquisitions, investments, loans or advances;|
|•||pay or modify the terms of certain indebtedness;|
|•||engage in certain transactions with affiliates; and|
|•||enter into negative pledge clauses and clauses restricting subsidiary distributions.|
Our credit agreements also contain certain customary affirmative covenants and events of default, including a change of control. The first lien credit agreement also contains a springing financial maintenance requirement with respect to the revolving credit facility, prohibiting us from exceeding a certain first lien secured leverage ratio under certain circumstances. As a result of these covenants and restrictions, we are limited in how we conduct our business, and we may be unable to raise additional debt or equity financing to compete effectively or to take advantage of new business opportunities. The terms of any future indebtedness we may incur could include more restrictive covenants. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to maintain compliance with these covenants in the future and, if we fail to do so, that we will be able to obtain waivers from the lenders and/or amend the covenants.
Our failure to comply with the restrictive covenants described above as well as others contained in our future debt instruments from time to time could result in an event of default, which, if not cured or waived, could result in our being required to repay these borrowings before their maturity dates. In addition, any event of default or declaration of acceleration under one debt instrument could also result in an event of default under one or more of our other debt instruments. If we are unable to repay, refinance or restructure our indebtedness under our secured debt, the holders of such debt could proceed against the collateral securing that indebtedness. If we are forced to refinance these borrowings on less favorable terms or if we are unable to repay, refinance or restructure such indebtedness, our financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.
We may be unable to generate sufficient cash flow to satisfy our significant debt service obligations, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our ability to make principal and interest payments on and to refinance our indebtedness will depend on our ability to generate cash in the future and is subject to general economic, financial, competitive, legislative, regulatory and other factors that are beyond our control. If our business does not generate sufficient cash flow from operations, in the amounts projected or at all, or if future borrowings are not available to us in amounts sufficient to fund our other liquidity needs, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
If we cannot generate sufficient cash flow from operations to make scheduled principal and interest payments in the future, we may need to refinance all or a portion of our indebtedness on or before maturity, sell assets, delay capital expenditures or seek additional equity. The terms of our existing or future debt agreements may also restrict us from affecting any of these alternatives. Any refinancing of our debt could be at higher interest rates and may require us to comply with more onerous covenants, which could further restrict our business operations. Further, changes in the credit and capital markets, including market disruptions and interest rate fluctuations, may increase the cost of financing, make it more difficult to obtain favorable terms, or restrict our access to these sources of future liquidity. In addition, any failure to make scheduled payments of interest
and principal on our outstanding indebtedness would likely result in a reduction of our credit rating, which could harm our ability to incur additional indebtedness on commercially reasonable terms or at all. Our inability to generate sufficient cash flow to satisfy our debt service obligations, or to refinance or restructure our obligations on commercially reasonable terms or at all, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations, as well as on our ability to satisfy our obligations in respect of our indebtedness.
Failure to comply with laws, regulations and enforcement activities or changes in statutory, regulatory, accounting, and other legal requirements could potentially impact our operating and financial results.
In addition to the vision care and healthcare laws and regulations discussed above, we are subject to numerous federal, state, local and foreign laws and governmental regulations including those relating to environmental protection, personal injury, intellectual property, consumer product safety, building, land use and zoning requirements, workplace regulations, wage and hour, privacy and information security, consumer protection laws, immigration and employment law matters. If we fail to comply with existing or future laws or regulations, or if these laws or regulations are violated by importers, manufacturers or distributors, we may be subject to governmental or judicial fines or sanctions, while incurring substantial legal fees and costs. In addition, our capital expenditures could increase due to remediation measures that may be required if we are found to be noncompliant with any existing or future laws or regulations.
Further, the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, has authority to investigate and prosecute practices that constitute unfair trade practices, deceptive trade practices or unfair methods of competition. State attorneys general typically have comparable authority, and many states also permit private plaintiffs to bring actions on the basis of these laws. Federal and state consumer protection laws and regulations may apply to our operations and retail offers. For example, our Americas Best offer of a free eye exam is subject to compliance with laws and regulations governing the use of this term.
Our transactions with the international laboratories we contract with may subject us to the FCPA and trade sanction laws, and similar anti-corruption, anti-bribery and international trade laws, any violation of which could create substantial liability for us and also harm our reputation. Our three laboratories in the United States and our in-store laboratories at our Eyeglass World locations subject us to various federal, state and local laws, regulations and other requirements pertaining to protection of the environment, public health and employee safety, including regulations governing the management of hazardous substances and the maintenance of safe working conditions, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, as amended. These laws also apply generally to all our properties. Our failure to comply with these laws can subject us to criminal and civil liabilities. In connection with our Vista Optical military locations, we must comply with regulations governing the occupancy of military bases. In connection with our philanthropic endeavors, we must also comply with additional federal, state and local tax and other laws and regulations.
Additionally, because we accept debit and credit cards for payment, we are subject to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, or the PCI Standard, issued by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, with respect to payment card information. The PCI Standard contains compliance guidelines with regard to our security surrounding the physical and electronic storage, processing and transmission of cardholder data. Compliance with the PCI Standard and implementing related procedures, technology and information security measures requires significant resources and ongoing attention. Costs and potential problems and interruptions associated with the implementation of new or upgraded systems and technology such as those necessary to achieve compliance with the PCI Standard or with maintenance or adequate support of existing systems could also disrupt or reduce the efficiency of our operations. Any material interruptions or failures in our payment-related systems could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. If there are amendments to the PCI Standard, the cost of re-compliance could also be substantial and we may suffer loss of critical data and interruptions or delays in our operations as a result.
Adverse litigation judgments or settlements resulting from legal proceedings relating to our business operations could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
From time to time, we are subject to allegations, and may be party to legal claims and regulatory proceedings, relating to our business operations. See Business—Legal Proceedings. Such allegations, claims and proceedings may be brought by third parties, including our customers, employees, governmental or
regulatory bodies or competitors, and may include class actions. Defending against such claims and proceedings is costly and time consuming and may divert managements attention and personnel resources from our normal business operations, and the outcome of many of these claims and proceedings cannot be predicted. If any of these claims or proceedings were to be determined adversely to us, a judgment, a fine or a settlement involving a payment of a material sum of money were to occur, or injunctive relief were issued against us, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
We may not be able to adequately protect our intellectual property, which could harm the value of our brand and adversely affect our business.
Our ability to implement our business plan successfully depends in part on our ability to further build brand recognition using our trademarks, service marks and other proprietary intellectual property, including our name and logos. While it is our policy to protect and defend vigorously our rights to our intellectual property, we cannot predict whether steps taken by us to protect our intellectual property rights will be adequate to prevent infringement or misappropriation of these rights. It may be difficult for us to prevent others from copying elements of our products and any litigation to enforce our rights could be costly, divert attention of management, and may not be successful. Although we believe that we have sufficient rights to all of our trademarks, service marks and other intellectual property rights, we may face claims of infringement that could interfere with our ability to market and promote our brands. Any such litigation may be costly and divert resources from our business. Moreover, if we are unable to successfully defend against such claims, we may be prevented from using our trademarks, service marks or other intellectual property rights in the future and may be liable for damages, which in turn could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Risks Related to this Offering and Ownership of Our Common Stock
No market currently exists for our common stock, and an active, liquid trading market for our common stock may not develop, which may cause shares of our common stock to trade at a discount from the initial offering price and make it difficult to sell the shares of common stock you purchase.
Prior to this offering, there has not been a public trading market for shares of our common stock. We cannot predict the extent to which investor interest in us will lead to the development of a trading market or how active and liquid that market may become. If an active and liquid trading market does not develop or continue, you may have difficulty selling your shares of our common stock at an attractive price or at all. The initial public offering price per share of common stock will be determined by negotiations between us and the underwriters, and may not be indicative of the price at which shares of our common stock will trade in the public market after this offering. The market price of our common stock may decline below the initial offering price and you may not be able to sell your shares of our common stock at or above the price you paid in this offering, or at all.
You will incur immediate and substantial dilution.
Prior stockholders have paid substantially less per share of our common stock than the price in this offering. The initial public offering price per share of our common stock will be substantially higher than the pro forma net tangible book deficit per share of outstanding common stock prior to completion of this offering. Based on our net tangible book deficit as of April 1, 2017 and upon the issuance and sale of shares of our common stock by us at an assumed initial public offering price of $ per share (the mid-point of the estimated offering price range set forth on the cover page of this prospectus), if you purchase our common stock in this offering, you will pay more for your shares than the amounts paid by our existing stockholders for their shares and you will suffer immediate dilution of approximately $ per share. Dilution is the amount by which the offering price paid by purchasers of our common stock in this offering will exceed the pro forma as adjusted net tangible book value (deficit) per share of our common stock upon completion of this offering. If the underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares, or if outstanding options to purchase our common stock are exercised, you will experience additional dilution. You may experience additional dilution upon future equity issuances or the exercise of options to purchase our common stock granted to our employees, executive officers and directors under our 2014 Stock Incentive Plan, our 2017 Omnibus Incentive Plan or other equity compensation plans. See Dilution.
Our stock price may change significantly following this offering, and you may not be able to resell shares of our common stock at or above the price you paid or at all, and you could lose all or part of your investment as a result.
We and the underwriters will negotiate to determine the initial public offering price. You may not be able to resell your shares at or above the initial public offering price due to a number of factors such as those listed in —Risks Related to Our Business and the following:
|•||results of operations that vary from the expectations of securities analysts and investors;|
|•||results of operations that vary from those of our competitors;|
|•||changes in expectations as to our future financial performance, including financial estimates and investment recommendations by securities analysts and investors;|
|•||changes in economic conditions for companies in our industry;|
|•||changes in market valuations of, or earnings and other announcements by, companies in our industry;|
|•||declines in the market prices of stocks generally, particularly those of optical retail companies;|
|•||additions or departures of key management personnel;|
|•||strategic actions by us or our competitors;|
|•||announcements by us, our competitors, our suppliers or our host and legacy organizations of significant contracts, price reductions, new products or technologies, acquisitions, joint marketing relationships, joint ventures, other strategic relationships or capital commitments;|
|•||changes in preference of our customers;|
|•||changes in general economic or market conditions or trends in our industry or the economy as a whole and, in particular, in the consumer spending environment;|
|•||changes in business or regulatory conditions;|
|•||future sales of our common stock or other securities;|
|•||investor perceptions of or the investment opportunity associated with our common stock relative to other investment alternatives;|
|•||the public’s response to press releases or other public announcements by us or third parties, including our filings with the SEC;|
|•||announcements relating to litigation or governmental investigations;|
|•||guidance, if any, that we provide to the public, any changes in this guidance or our failure to meet this guidance;|
|•||the development and sustainability of an active trading market for our stock;|
|•||changes in accounting principles; and|
|•||other events or factors, including those resulting from informational technology system failures and disruptions, natural disasters, war, acts of terrorism or responses to these events.|
Furthermore, the stock market may experience extreme volatility that, in some cases, may be unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of particular companies. These broad market and industry fluctuations may adversely affect the market price of our common stock, regardless of our actual operating performance. In addition, price volatility may be greater if the public float and trading volume of our common stock is low.
In the past, following periods of market volatility, stockholders have instituted securities class action litigation. If we were to become involved in securities litigation, it could have a substantial cost and divert resources and the attention of executive management from our business regardless of the outcome of such litigation.
Because we have no current plans to pay cash dividends on our common stock, you may not receive any return on investment unless you sell your common stock for a price greater than that which you paid for it.
We have no current plans to pay cash dividends on our common stock. The declaration, amount and payment of any future dividends on our common stock will be at the sole discretion of our Board of Directors. Our Board of Directors may take into account general and economic conditions, our financial condition and results of operations, our available cash and current and anticipated cash needs, capital requirements, contractual, legal, tax and regulatory restrictions and implications on the payment of dividends by us to our stockholders or by our subsidiaries to us, including restrictions under our credit agreements and other indebtedness we may incur, and such other factors as our Board of Directors may deem relevant. See Dividend Policy.
As a result, you may not receive any return on an investment in our common stock unless you sell our common stock for a price greater than your purchase price.
We are a holding company with no operations of our own and, as such, we depend on our subsidiaries for cash to fund all of our operations and expenses, including future dividend payments, if any.
Our operations are conducted entirely through our subsidiaries and our ability to generate cash to meet our debt service obligations or to make future dividend payments, if any, is highly dependent on the earnings and the receipt of funds from our subsidiaries via dividends or intercompany loans. We do not currently expect to declare or pay dividends on our common stock for the foreseeable future; however, to the extent that we determine in the future to pay dividends on our common stock, the agreements governing our indebtedness may restrict the ability of our subsidiaries to pay dividends or otherwise transfer assets to us.
If securities analysts do not publish research or reports about our business or if they downgrade our stock or our sector, our stock price and trading volume could decline.
The trading market for our common stock will rely in part on the research and reports that industry or financial analysts publish about us or our business. We do not control these analysts. Furthermore, if one or more of the analysts who do cover us downgrade our stock or our industry, or the stock of any of our competitors, or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, the price of our stock could decline. If one or more of these analysts stop covering us or fail to publish reports on us regularly, we could lose visibility in the market, which in turn could cause our stock price or trading volume to decline.
We will incur significantly increased costs and become subject to additional regulations and requirements as a result of becoming a public company, and our management will be required to devote substantial time to new compliance matters, which could lower our profits or make it more difficult to run our business.
As a public company, we will incur significant legal, regulatory, finance, accounting, investor relations and other expenses that we have not incurred as a private company, including costs associated with public company reporting requirements. As a result of having publicly traded common stock, we will also be required to comply with, and incur costs associated with such compliance with, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, or the Dodd-Frank Act, as well as rules and regulations implemented by the SEC and the applicable stock exchange. The expenses incurred by public companies generally for reporting and corporate governance purposes have been increasing. We expect these rules and regulations to increase our legal and financial compliance costs and to make some activities more time-consuming and costly. Our management will need to devote a substantial amount of time to ensure that we comply with all of these requirements, diverting the attention of management away from revenue- producing activities. These laws and regulations also could make it more difficult or costly for us to obtain certain types of insurance, including director and officer liability insurance, and we may be forced to accept reduced policy limits an