2020, resilience, agility and strong execution in an exceptionally challenging environment
2020 will certainly be remembered all over the world for the Covid-19 pandemic, an unprecedented health crisis of epic proportions bearing profound social, economic and financial consequences. A human tragedy of which the scars will remain visible for a long time. We are close to all of those who lost their dear ones and remind with the utmost gratitude all those who did their best to assist, care for and help the victims.
In this situation, our absolute priority was to safeguard the health of our people, thanks to the implementation of a rigorous protocol to ensure the highest safety in our stores, continuous support and superior service to our customers, besides adopting remote-work for the back-office. Moreover, being conscious of the importance of the service we provide, we decided since the very beginning of the outbreak to keep at least part of our stores always open to offer the assistance our clients needed also during the most severe lockdowns.
Such decision, different from those taken by several other hearing care retailers and not always economically convenient, allowed us to guarantee what the governmental authorities defined as an “essential service”, thus further increasing the trust our customers devote to Amplifon and strengthening our competitive positioning.
The performance of the Company, which had been very positive and growing in the first two months of 2020, was severely impacted since the beginning of March by the effects of the pandemic and, above all, by the adoption of restrictive measures by the authorities of the different countries to contain the outbreak. Even if hearing care services were considered essential services in most of the countries in which we operate, allowing us to keep our shops open, the progressive lockdown measures introduced in several countries caused, mainly between March and June of last year, a generalized drop in the Group’s store traffic and, consequently, in revenues.
We have, however, starting already in March, taken immediate and decisive actions to mitigate the financial impact of the health emergency triggered by Covid-19 through measures aimed at containing costs, maximizing cash generation, and safeguarding the net financial position, as well as further strengthening our already solid financial structure.
Moreover, in June, once the first signs of recovery were visible following the gradual easing of the restrictive measures, we have swiftly decided to reactivate our growth investments, mainly those in marketing, further accelerating the recovery of our business, and confirming the validity of the market fundamentals and the unchanged behavior of our customers.
2020 results reflect the dynamics described above. Revenues came to 1,555.5 million euros, down 9.3% at constant exchange rates compared to 2019 due to the Covid-19 outbreak, but well above the reference market performance and strongly improving in the second half of the year. All that testifies to the resilience of our business. EBITDA came to 371 million euros, with the margin at 23.8%, around 110 basis points higher than in 2019 notwithstanding the impact of the pandemic, thanks to the timely cost containment measures. Net profit was 101 million euros compared to the recurring 127 million euros and reported 108.7 million euros registered in 2019. These results allow us to propose a dividend distribution of 0.22 euro for each ordinary share to shareholders, with a pay-out of around 49%.
Finally, also the balance sheet and financial indicators show excellent results in this unprecedented period, with free cash flow reaching the record level of 257 million euros and favoring an improvement of around 150 million euros in net financial indebtedness compared to December 31st, 2019, with a financial leverage that also improves at year-end. We have also further strengthened our financial structure, thus closing the year with a liquidity position of around 800 million euros including cash on balance sheet and undrawn committed revolving facilities.
Through 2020 we have also continued, despite the impact of the pandemic, the implementation of our several strategic initiatives: we completed the roll-out of our Amplifon Product Experience – which comprises the Amplifon product line and the Amplifon multichannel ecosystem – in the US and in Germany, as well as launched it in the United Kingdom with great results.
We have also continued with the GAES integration in Spain, and successfully pursued our consolidation process, always in line with our strategy of further strengthening our position in core markets. In February we completed the acquisition of Attune Hearing, the largest independent hearing healthcare player in Australia and in December the acquisition of the hearing care business of PJC Investments, our second largest Miracle-Ear franchisee in the United States.
We are very satisfied indeed with the excellent results achieved in 2020, which clearly confirm the resilience of our business, the agility of our organization and the strong execution capabilities. We can surely say we emerged even stronger from an exceptionally challenging scenario.
We conclude by reminding that this year we present our fifth Sustainability Report that, besides reporting the Company’s sustainability performances, is enriched by an essential component: a sustainability plan with objectives aligned to our business strategy and to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
This is a particularly important year for us as it represents not only the 70th year since Amplifon was founded in 1950 by Algernon Charles Holland, but also a great challenge from which we emerged even stronger. We want to thank each of our 17,500 people, the management, and the Board members,
expressing our greatest appreciation for their passion, extreme commitment, and sense of responsibility also in this difficult year. We also want to thank our clients for their trust which recognizes the uniqueness of the value we bring them; our partners who shared strategies to face common difficulties together and all our shareholders who continued to show us their trust and support.