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Lightspeed preps for shift in economy after Q1 net loss doubled from last year

JP Chauvet, Lightspeed CEO, is seen in this handout image provided June 14, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Lightspeed **MANDATORY CREDIT**

The CEO of software company Lightspeed Commerce. Inc. says his business has benefited from a return to pre-pandemic activities and shopping habits following COVID-19 restrictions, but he's still watching for a potential downturn.

"We are not immune to macroeconomic conditions and are not downplaying the risks," said JP Chauvet on a Thursday call with analysts.

"However, I believe it's important to emphasize that the return to in-person shopping and dining are positive influences for Lightspeed that should at least help to partially offset any challenging macroeconomic conditions."

Chauvet's comments come as the world braces itself for a potential recession and the tech sector grapples with a drop in valuations due to investor exuberance fading when pandemic measures were lifted.

The shift has prompted e-commerce giant Shopify Inc. to cut 1,000 staff from its workforce and triggered layoffs at Wealthsimple, Netflix, Clearco and more. 

In an interview, Chauvet said the situation was "traumatic" and pushed him to write to employees to reiterate that he feels Lightspeed is doing well and has a different model than Shopify. 

Montreal-based Lightspeed, which largely caters to the hospitality and retail sector, has been under pressure since a report last year by U.S. short-seller Spruce Point Management was critical of the company and accused it of misleading investors about its growth opportunities. Its shares sat at $27.84 by noon Thursday, a drop of 11 per cent or $3.60.

However, Lightspeed is optimistic, in part because it launched two new flagship products and acquired at least five companies to broaden its software offerings in the last two years.

The company has been working to integrate the acquisitions into Lightspeed's existing products, which Lightspeed executives admit has caused an increase in churn.

They don't consider the churn to be a bad thing though, because it's largely been confined to sectors that the company doesn't want to service like grocers.

They also think it will be offset by Lightspeed's efforts to fulfil a shift in client demands.

"Merchants are turning to technology to help them do more with less," said Chauvet.

"With supply chain issues and labour shortages causing disruptions in every industry, Lightspeed's technology can help merchants automate and simplify their operations, better manage their inventory and improve their profitability."

Chauvet added that Lightspeed is also benefiting because merchants are increasingly looking for a "one-stop shop" for their business.

"This will likely become more important if economic conditions deteriorate," he said.

"If merchants are relying on separate vendors for their point of sale, e-commerce and payment solutions, as an example, they can create unnecessary complexity in their operations, lose valuable insights because of siloed data, generate extra work to reconcile these disparate systems and can end up paying more."

Lightspeed will push this narrative as it works to address a first quarter net loss that nearly doubled from the same time last year.

The company said its net loss for the three months ended June 30 amounted to US$100.8 million or 68 cents per share compared to a loss of US$49.3 million or 38 cents per share during last year's first quarter.

Analysts expected the company to report a net loss of US$61.3 million or 41 cents per share, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.

Revenue for the period reached US$173.9 million, up from US$116 million during the same quarter last year.

— with files from Stéphane Rolland in Montreal

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 4, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:LSPD)

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press