PARIS — The eyewear wars are not over. Casting uncertainty on its latest acquisition project, EssilorLuxottica has taken GrandVision to court to gain access to information on how the company has managed during the coronavirus crisis and assess the extent of alleged breached obligations of an agreement between the companies.
The proceedings, filed in a court in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, are intended to gain information in order to “assess the way GrandVision has managed the course of its business during the COVID-19 crisis, as well as the extent to which GrandVision has breached its obligations under the support agreement,” said EssilorLuxottica in a statement.
“Despite repeated requests, GrandVision has not provided this information on a voluntary basis, leaving EssilorLuxottica with no other option but to resort to legal proceedings,” the eyewear giant continued, without elaborating further. GrandVision was not immediately available for comment.
EssilorLuxottica announced plans to purchase a 76.72 percent stake in the Dutch optical retailer a year ago, at a price of 28 euros per share, a deal that valued the firm at more than 7 billion euros.
If the deal goes through, the acquisition would reinforce the eyewear giant’s retail network, which already includes the LensCrafters chain. The area is rich in opportunity for business improvement, analysts have said.
Formed in 2018 from the 46-billion-euro merger of France-based Essilor and Italy’s Luxottica, EssilorLuxottica has suffered a number of challenges along the way, with early stages of integration complicated by disputes between top managers of the French and Italian factions of the company.
The group had reported a strong start to the year, but ended up withdrawing guidance a few weeks later when store closures rolled across Europe and North America. Behind the initial optimism was the return to business in China, where production was fully operational with spare capacity in March. To deal with the crisis, EssilorLuxottica has adjusted production according to demand, implemented cost and cash control measures, and suspended lower priority investments. It also restructured its top management structure, and reduced the management board by a third to simplify decision-making.