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Lightspeed CEO confident company has room to grow as rivals circle, businesses reopen

The rush of companies adopting new software during the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a wave of business for technology firms, but Lightspeed Commerce Inc.'s Dax Dasilva isn't worried about rivals.

The rush of companies adopting new software during the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a wave of business for technology firms, but Lightspeed Commerce Inc.'s Dax Dasilva isn't worried about rivals.

The chief executive of the Montreal company formerly known as Lightspeed POS Inc. said Thursday there are significant opportunities for his firm to expand because it currently serves 150,000 merchants but there are 48 million small- and medium-sized businesses (SME) across the globe.

"Even our biggest competitors that may not do really the same segment as us, but they're in the SME space, they're not in the multi-millions either," Dasilva told The Canadian Press.

"There's a long runway for us to grow."

A large part of that runway is stemming from the pandemic.

As many businesses were forced to temporarily close to quell the virus, they sought software to facilitate online sales, curbside pickup and delivery.

Lightspeed was ready to help with the digital transition and also prepared to aid thousands of entrepreneurs who were starting companies during the upheaval.

There will still be companies who are resistant to change or don't survive the crisis, but Dasilva thinks his business will see benefit from a new, more nimble environment.

"A lot of businesses that have been older, especially in hospitality, that were on legacy systems and would never really make the effort to change over, if those businesses closed and new businesses open, they're going to use Lightspeed," he said. 

But there are a wealth of options available to companies trying to digitize. Shopify Inc. has grown mightier during the pandemic with its slew of e-commerce options, a tap and chip reader and discounts for new customers.

Jack Dorsey's Square Inc. upped the ante too when it acquired Australian buy now, pay later company Afterpay days ago for US$29 billion.

Asked by analysts Thursday whether Lightspeed would consider a similar service, executives on an earnings call said buy now, pay later is valuable but the company is busy and will let its trove of data help determine future moves. 

Dasilva plans to focus Lightspeed's growth on 12 verticals including hospitality, retail, apparel, golf, bikes, jewelry, home and garden.

"It's the verticals that have a lot of complexity, that have concentrated suppliers, that benefit from being part of what Lightspeed does, and I think we can be the go-to name," he said, adding Lightspeed is ideal for dealing with thousands of parts or products.

But he acknowledged each vertical is facing different conditions. Bikes and golf, he said, had a very strong year as people tried to remain active but physically distanced.

Hospitality fared much worse as people shied away from travelling and dining in restaurants, yet Dasilva is now seeing the industry "roar back."

The uneven recovery has weighed on Lightspeed's earnings. On Thursday, it revealed that its losses more than doubled in its latest quarter even as many businesses reopened from pandemic lockdown measures.

But the pandemic — and the risks it creates for Lightspeed — are not gone yet.

The Delta variant of COVID-19 is proving virulent, vaccination efforts have stalled in some countries and health officials are increasingly predicting a fourth wave of the virus will come in fall.

"It remains an unpredictable environment," Dasilva told analysts.

"We've seen certain geographies go back into lockdowns and we've seen constant headlines about the Delta variant and what that might mean, so we will continue to be cautious and prudent in the near-term."

For now, Lightspeed has been focused on highlighting to the public that it is much more than a point-of-sale company and offers payment, loyalty, analytics, accounting and e-commerce software too. 

Lightspeed shareholders voted Thursday to change the company's name to better reflect all the services it provides.

It is also working on integrating several new acquisitions into its business, including Ecwid, which enables small businesses to easily add online stores to their existing sites and NuOrder, which offers wholesale software.

As the Ecwid deal closed and NuOrder's nears completion, Lightspeed lost US$49.3 million or 38 cents per share in its first quarter.

That compared with a loss of US$20.1 million or 22 cents per share a year earlier.

Revenues for the three months ended June 30 surged 220 per cent to US$115.9 million, from US$36.2 million in the prior year quarter with acquisitions contributing US$50.5 million.

Analysts on average expected Lightspeed to report 16 cents per share in adjusted profits on US$92.8 million in revenues, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 5, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:LSPD)

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press