ROTTERDAM — AudioNova, one of the largest hearing aid retailers in Europe, is on the auction block, according to recent reports. AudioNova, owned by the investment company HAL Trust, has more than 1300 hearing aid retail stores across 12 countries in Europe, including Germany and France.
Investment analyzers indicate AudioNova revenues in 2014 were €333 million (approximately $375 million USD), with an operating income of €35 million. HAL Trust has had an ownership interest in AudioNova since 2001.
Potential Bidders May Face Anti-Trust Issues
Investment analyzers speculate the number of stores up for sale is large enough to cause anti-trust issues for several of the potential bidders. Amplifon has 3,300 stores globally (1,790 in Europe), Demant has 1,800 stores globally (870 in Europe), and Sonova has 2,100 stores globally (1,280 in Europe). Sivantos, with 220 HearUSA locations, is the sole large hearing aid manufacturer without any retail exposure in Europe.
Because they are perceived as competing directly against their customers in the private market, the presence of manufacturer-owned chain retail continues to be a point of contention among some within the industry.
Recent reports indicate that all leading manufacturers have a footprint within the US private market, as GN (Beltone) accounts 10% of total unit sales, Starkey (Audibel) 8%, Sonova 3%, Demant 2% and Sivantos 1%. Amplifon, which owns both Miracle Ear and the Elite Hearing Network, accounts for just under 15% of total unit sales of the US private market.
Although Costco has experienced double-digit growth over the past several years, expert analysis indicates that they now control 11% of total unit sales in the US, while the independent and small chain market hovers at approximately 50% of total unit sales in the American private market.
For January, 2016, it was reported that the US private market grew 6%, compared to the previous January, while the VA market grew at a 3% year-over-year pace.