New Look Eyewear Inc.
TSX : BCI

March 17, 2010 21:43 ET

New Look Eyewear Inc. (Formerly Benvest New Look Income Fund) Announces Record 2009 Results - Increases in Revenues, EBITDA and Net Earnings

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - March 17, 2010) - New Look Eyewear Inc. (TSX:BCI) ("New Look"), as the successor of Benvest New Look Income Fund (formerly TSX:BCI.UN) (the "Fund"), announced today that for the Fund's fiscal year ended December 31, 2009, eye care operations generated revenues of $69.0 million and an EBITDA(1) of $11.0 million, representing increases of 9.7 % and 5.8% respectively over the last year. Net earnings were $5.4 million ($0.54 per unit) representing an increase of $0.2 million or 3.6% over last year. Revenue growth is attributable to sales increases in both comparable stores and new stores and a strong fourth quarter.

New Look is the resulting corporation following the completion of the Fund's conversion to a corporate structure effective March 2nd, 2010. New Look shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol BCI.

New Look's development continued in 2009 as it invested $5.3 million to add two stores to its network, acquire the remaining 50% interest of a former joint venture, acquire three optical practices, renovate four stores and purchase state-of-the-art eye care equipment to be used by professionals in its stores and laboratory. The company's expansion plans consist of further developing the smaller Québec markets where its optical services and products offering will provide an enhanced customer shopping experience. Such plans include increasing our market share in existing stores in both the Québec and Ottawa markets as well as introducing hearing protection devices in some of our stores.

"New Look was able to cope successfully with adverse retail and economic conditions as the 2009 results confirmed. We listen to our customers and provide exceptional professional services, a wide variety of high quality products, and competitive prices. The company's dedicated eye care staff and professionals are responding to consumers' needs and everyone at New Look is committed to enhancing the value provided to our customer." stated Martial Gagné, President of New Look who added: "We are proud that our customers continue to recognize the quality of our professional services and optometrists who performed a record number of eye exams in our stores in 2009".

The fourth quarter of 2009

Revenues for the fourth quarter of 2009 increased by $3.2 million or 22%, as compared with the corresponding quarter of 2008. During the same period, EBITDA increased by $1.2 million or 69% in comparison with the fourth quarter of 2008. Net earnings were $1.6 million as compared with $0.9 million in 2008.

SEE TABLE ATTACHED FOR ADDITIONAL FINANCIAL INFORMATION

(1) Refer to Note 1 in the attached table for a definition of EBITDA.

On March 2, 2010, Benvest New Look Income Fund (formerly TSX:BCI.UN) was converted into a corporation named New Look Eyewear Inc. (TSX:BCI) . As of March 17, 2010, New Look had 10,023,732 common shares issued and outstanding. New Look is a leader in the eye care industry in Eastern Canada operating a network of corporate stores and a laboratory using state-of-the-art technologies.

This press release may contain forward-looking statements that reflect the current views and / or expectations of New Look with respect to its performance, business, and future events. Such statements are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. Actual results and events may vary.

BENVEST NEW LOOK INCOME FUND Consolidated Statement of Earnings

For the quarter and the year ended December 31, 2009 and December 31, 2008

  Quarter     Year    
  2009   2008   2009   2008  
  $   $   $   $  
Revenues from eye care 17,625   14,468   68,958   62,869  
Cost of materials, direct labour, operating, selling and administration
expenses
               
14,686   12,730   57,992   52,509  
EBITDA (1) 2,939   1,738   10,966   10,360  
Amortization 885   715   3,270   3,199  
Financial expenses, net of interest revenues (interest revenues, net
of financial expenses)
               
(9 ) 109   321   589  
Equity-based compensation expense 27   29   146   126  
  903   853   3,737   3,914  
Earnings before the following items 2,036   885   7,229   6,446  
Net gain (net loss) on foreign currency translation 12   26   (212 ) 14  
Recovery (expenses) related to former portfolio investments 48   ( 1 ) 84   (42 )
Earnings before income taxes and non-controlling interest 2,096   910   7,101   6,418  
Income taxes 555   (10 ) 1,677   1,178  
Earnings before non-controlling interest 1,541   920   5,424   5,240  
Non-controlling interest (15 ) (16 ) 7   11  
Net earnings 1,556   936   5,417   5,229  
Net earnings per unit                
Basic 0.16   0.10   0.55   0.54  
Diluted 0.16   0.10   0.54   0.53  

(1) EBITDA is defined as earnings before interest income and expenses, income taxes and amortization. It excludes any gain or loss on foreign currency translation (except if related to cost of goods sold), net gains or losses related to portfolio investments, and equity-based compensation expense. EBITDA is not a recognized measure under Canadian generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP") and may not be comparable to similar measures used by other companies. Investors should be cautioned that EBITDA should not be construed as an alternative to net earnings as determined in accordance with GAAP. New Look believes it is a useful financial metric as it assists in determining the ability to generate cash from operations.

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