Eyecare Partners Ltd (trading as EyeQ Optometrists) has announced that it will de-list from the Australian Stock Exchange and commence a minimum buy back of shares from small shareholders. The Company also announced that its chief executive officer, Michael Kotow, has tendered his resignation. The combined effect of these changes will significantly reduce the costs incurred as a result of being a listed entity.
Mr. Kotow and his management team were responsible for the implementation of strategic review recommendations adopted by the Board last year. Mr. Kotow also oversaw significant changes to the operation of EPL and its optometric practices since March 2010 which have strengthened the Company both operationally and financially.
According to the company’s half yearly report, issued on 31 December 2011, in the six months to that date, the company closed six unprofitable or marginal practices. A further six practices were sold back to Dr. Tony Hanks (and associated entities), which reduced EPL’s consolidated debt by 1.35m. Additionally, EyeCare Plus membership was terminated and the national office was relocated from Melbourne to Sydney. The company commenced a major re-branding exercise so that EPL practices now trade under the name eyeQ Optometrists and a common practice IT platform was introduced across the group.
The report also noted that revenue for the first half of the 2011/12 year was down 11 per cent, partly as a result of the reduced number of operating practices: there were 41 practices in 2010/11 compared to just 28 practices by the same time the following year.
In a joint statement Ray Fortescue, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and Michael Jenkins, Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary, said the company is now considering whether “any other capital management initiatives in addition to the minimum holding buyback are in the best interests of shareholders.”
Share prices, which have hovered around .039 since the November 2011, fell 25 per cent to .03 on the back of the announcement on small volumes.