Fonds de solidarité FTQ backs New Look’s $120 mln buy of Iris

New Look Vision Group Inc (TSX: BCI) has closed its acquisition of Iris the Visual Group, a Laval, Québec-based provider of eyecare services, including eyewear, eye exams and vision correction surgery. Montréal-based New Look, which also operates in the optical retail industry, paid $120 million for the company. The deal was backed by Fonds de solidarité FTQ, which deployed $55 million, its second investment New Look. At the time of the deal’s announcement in July, New Look said the combined business will have estimated annual system-wide revenue of more than $315 million and a store network of over 375 locations.

PRESS RELEASE

Fonds de solidarité FTQ Invests $55 Million in Acquisition of IRIS The Visual Group by New Look Vision Group

Oct. 27, 2017

Acquisition will strengthen the Québec company’s position as a leading Canadian retailer

MONTRÉAL, Oct. 27, 2017 /CNW Telbec/ – The Fonds de solidarité FTQ is investing $55 million to support New Look’s acquisition of IRIS the Visual Group. This transaction will bring the number of New Look’s employees to 2,200 and make the company the biggest player in Canada’s eye care products industry.

This is the Fonds’ second investment in New Look; the first investment was in 2013. The Fonds’ portfolio of partner companies in the retail sector includes namely Ricardo, SAIL and Rudsak, representing investments of more than $100 million.

Quote

“The sustainability of Québec companies is a major priority for the Fonds de solidarité FTQ. Supported by the Fonds, the acquisition of IRIS by New Look will strengthen the position of these two Canadian retail leaders. Thanks to a seasoned management team, the future is bright for this new Québec flagship company.”
Normand Chouinard, Executive Vice-President, Investments, Fonds de solidarité FTQ

The story of IRIS The Visual Group began in 1986 when Dr. Francis Jean opened his first optometry practice in his hometown of Baie-Comeau. Dr. Jean then founded a buying group, engaging several like-minded optometrists that adopted the IRIS trademark in 1990. Based in Laval, the network now has 147 stores, mostly in Québec, but also in British Columbia, in Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick.

New Look is a leading provider of eye care products and services in Canada. The company has three main retail optical banners: New Look Eyewear, Vogue Optical and Greiche & Scaff. The Group’s network consists of 232 corporately-owned stores in Québec and the Atlantic provinces, but also in Ontario, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. The Company operates a lens processing laboratory and a distribution centre in Ville St-Laurent, Québec, and a lens processing laboratory in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

The Fonds’ investment is subject to the usual closing conditions.

About the Fonds de solidarité FTQ

The Fonds de solidarité FTQ is a development capital investment fund that channels the savings of Quebecers into investments. As at May 31, 2017, the organization had $13.1 billion in net assets, and through its current portfolio of investments has helped create and protect 186,440 jobs. The Fonds is a partner in more than 2,700 companies and has 645,664 shareholder-savers.

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