While the coronavirus pandemic continues to significantly affect daily life as well as economies across Europe, its robust business model, the outstanding work of our employees and a strict cost regime have enabled Fielmann to record a swift economic recovery since May. This recovery led to a positive result in the first half of the year and even accelerated from July to September.
The number of units sold in the third quarter of 2020 stood at 1.98 million pairs of glasses (previous year: 2.06 million). External sales grew by 4.0% to €481.6 million (previous year: €463.2 million) and consolidated sales rose by 5.2% to €421.0 million (previous year: €400.1 million). The pre-tax profit increased to €81.4 million (previous year: €78.5 million) and the net income to €57.8 million (previous year: €54.8 million).
Unit sales in the first nine months of this financial year amounted to a total of 5.07 million pairs of glasses (previous year: 6.13 million). External sales declined by 11.4% to €1.19 billion (previous year: €1.35 billion) while consolidated sales were 10.9% lower with €1.03 billion (previous year: €1.16 billion). In the same period, Fielmann generated a pre-tax profit of €118.9 million (previous year: €206.1 million) and the net income was €82.8 million (previous year: €144.0 million).
As at 30 September 2020, Fielmann operated 783 stores (previous year: 770), 216 of which also contained hearing aid studios (previous year: 206).
Despite the economic challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, our business development has proven to be resilient. This strengthens our determination to continue the implementation of our Vision 2025 that entails a continued digitisation and internationalisation of our business model. In the first nine months of 2020, investments totalled €55.0 million (previous year: €74.4 million) and were financed from our cash flow.
Based on the recovery during the third quarter, we expect external sales of more than €1.6 billion (previous year: €1.76 billion), net group sales of more than €1.4 billion (previous year: €1.52 billion) and earnings before taxes of more than €140 million (previous year: €253.81 million) for the year as a whole.
As governments in most of our markets have taken strong measures in order to contain the second wave of the pandemic, these restrictions as well as additional measures that might likely follow might lead to a reassessment of our prognosis later this year. Nonetheless, Fielmann remains confident to emerge from the crisis in a position of strength.
As a successful and financially potent family business, we are confident that we will enter at least one new market within the next 9 months.
Hamburg, November 2020
The Management Board