• Health and Safety;
• Operations and Labour;
• Preservation of Liquidity;
• Dividends; and
• Virtual-Only 2020 Annual and Special Meeting of Shareholders
Boucherville (Québec), April 20, 2020 – Uni-Select Inc. (TSX: UNS) (“Uni-Select” or the “Corporation”) today provided an update regarding previously implemented and current measures in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic (“COVID-19”) has created unprecedented challenges for the entire automotive aftermarket. While Uni-Select and its customers continue to provide essential services where appropriate and permitted, demand has decreased and is expected to be under pressure in the near term. Uni-Select will continue to optimise its operations accordingly.
As the uncertainty regarding the full extent and duration of the pandemic continues, Uni-Select’s Board of Directors and its executive management team is focusing on a cash conservation plan aimed at ensuring maximum available liquidity and financial flexibility until the crisis abates and market conditions stabilize.
As such, Uni-Select announced in early April that it began implementing measures in early March in order to protect the health and safety of its employees, customers and suppliers. The measures included, amongst others:
- Ensuring that all government-issued regulations applicable to the jurisdictions in which Uni-Select operates are followed;
- Operational changes such as curb-side pick ups where possible, order intake procedures and deliveries that minimize contact and work-from-home policies wherever possible;
- Reduced work hours, reduced number of open store locations, 20% salary cuts for executive management and 25% for the Board of Directors, and made the difficult decision to furlough approximately 50% of its employees across all 3 business units;
- More recently, Uni-Select has been working with customers and suppliers to find ways to accommodate and meet our respective needs as we weather the storm together;
- The Board has made the decision to suspend all future dividend payments for the time being with the exception of the dividend declared on February 19, 2020 that will be paid on April 21, 2020 to shareholders of record as of March 31, 2020.
“These important and difficult decisions were made by our team in a quick and nimble fashion, all within a very volatile environment, but always with the best interest of the Corporation as a whole in mind, recognizing the sacrifices and hardships being imposed on so many. These decisions are being made to ensure that the Corporation comes out of the COVID-19 crisis strong and ready to continue its plans for growth, overall performance improvement and value creation for its shareholders. We are particularly grateful to all those working on the front lines of defense for the security and well-being of us all. To that end, we are pleased to have donated thousands of much-needed N95 respirators to various governmental authorities over the past few days in the hope that they will offer some reprieve for healthcare professionals,” stated Brent Windom, President and Chief Executive Officer of Uni-Select.
Uni-Select will provide a more complete update regarding the operational and financial impacts of COVID‑19 during its first quarter fiscal 2020 earnings call, to be held on May 14, 2020.
Annual and Special Meeting of Shareholders
In the context of COVID-19, in order to protect the health of all participants, Uni-Select will be holding its annual and special meeting of shareholders scheduled for May 14, 2020 in a virtual-only format which will be conducted via live webcast at https://web.lumiagm.com/144757179. For more information on the meeting and how to participate, please refer to Uni-Select’s management information circular for the meeting which is filed on SEDAR. Further details on how to participate and vote at the meeting will be provided on the Investors page of our website (uniselect.com) in the coming days.
Risks Relating to COVID-19
The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic impacts Uni-Select’s business, including its operations and the market for its securities, will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted at this time, and include the duration, severity and scope of the pandemic and the actions taken to contain or treat the outbreak. Even at its current scope, together with measures that have been taken globally to counteract it, the COVID-19 pandemic could materially and adversely impact Uni-Select’s business, financial condition and results of operations including, without limitation, through a major decline in economic activity in North America and the United Kingdom resulting in a decline in demand for Uni-Select’s products and services, compromised employee health and workplace productivity, government-ordered business closures and threats to the business continuity of Uni-Select’s stores, suppliers, customers and/or partners. These impacts could in turn, amongst other things, negatively impact Uni-Select’s liquidities and/or its ability to remain in compliance with covenants under its Syndicated Credit Agreement.
With over 6,000 employees in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., Uni-Select is a leader in the distribution of automotive refinish and industrial coatings and related products in North America, as well as a leader in the automotive aftermarket parts business in Canada. Uni-Select is headquartered in Boucherville, Québec, Canada, and its shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (UNS).
In Canada, Uni-Select supports over 16,000 automotive repair and collision repair shops and more than 4,000 shops through its automotive repair/installer shop banners and automotive refinish banners. Its national network includes over 1,000 independent customer locations and more than 75 company-owned stores, many of which operate under the Uni-Select BUMPER TO BUMPER®, AUTO PARTS PLUS® and FINISHMASTER® store banner programs.
In the United States, Uni-Select, through its wholly-owned subsidiary FinishMaster, Inc., operates a national network of over 175 automotive refinish company-owned stores under the FINISHMASTER® banner, which supports over 30,000 customers annually and is the primary supplier to more than 5,500 collision repair centre customers.
In the U.K. and Ireland, Uni-Select, through its Parts Alliance group of subsidiaries, is a major distributor of automotive parts supporting over 23,000 customer accounts with a network of over 175 company-owned stores.
CAUTION REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION
Certain statements made in this press release are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are typically identified by the words assumption, goal, guidance, objective, outlook, project, strategy, target and other similar expressions or future or conditional verbs such as aim, anticipate, believe, could, expect, intend, may, plan, seek, should, strive and will. Forward-looking statements in this press release include statements relating to its ability to preserve existing liquidity and secure additional liquidity. All such forward‑looking statements are made pursuant to the “safe harbour” provisions of applicable Canadian securities laws.
Forward-looking statements are, by their very nature, subject to inherent risks and uncertainties and are based on several assumptions, both general and specific, which may cause expressed expectations to be significantly different from those listed or implied within this press release and our business outlook, objectives, plans and strategic priorities may not be achieved. In particular, Uni-Select is presently subject to significant risks relating to the COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, we cannot guarantee that any forward-looking statement will materialize, and we caution you against relying on any of these forward‑looking statements. The forward‑looking information contained herein is made as of the date of this press release, and Uni-Select does not undertake to publicly update such forward-looking information to reflect new information, subsequent or otherwise, unless required by applicable securities laws.