Approach per company
Vebego is active in several markets in various countries, all of which have their own dynamics. The companies identify their strategic and operational risks on an annual basis. The mitigating measures are discussed each quarter. These files receive maximum attention from the local management. There are also a number of themes and risks that are important for almost all our activities and countries. We approach these issues on a Vebego-wide basis. The most important theme is the development of the economy and social developments in the post-corona era.
Macroeconomic consequences of the corona crisis
It is currently still unclear what exactly will be the macroeconomic consequences of the corona crisis. The growth models for each country in which Vebego operates are also different. The role of the different governments in economic recovery packages and sector-oriented subsidies has major consequences, directly and indirectly, for Vebego's clients. The early discontinuation of support measures can lead, among other things, to more bankruptcies, cutting facilities expenditures or cutbacks in landscaping. We also note that the different market segments in the crisis have developed their own dynamics, which will also affect the recovery phase after the corona crisis. The companies’ management periodically reports on the development within the sector where they operate; the Executive Board uses this information and its own analyses to monitor the medium-term plans and, where necessary, to adjust them through mitigating measures.
Microeconomic consequences of the corona crisis
The corona crisis caused a significant increase in attention for hygiene and the living environment. This is a positive development for Vebego companies. In segments such as healthcare and the food industry, clients require more cleaning, extra hygiene measures and more material. The training courses and expertise that we offer are very much in demand across the countries. The demand for our services in these segments is increasing significantly. It is quite conceivable that due to this crisis, the importance of proper cleaning and hygiene will receive an extra boost. Based on our expertise, we contribute there by providing additional instruction and information to clients as well as employees. The companies that operate in healthcare were in the frontline during the corona crisis. Precisely here, Vebego has been able to make a demonstrable contribution to combatting the crisis. We expect that the competition will increase regarding facility service providers in healthcare. At the same time, we expect that we will continue to convince clients with our knowledge, skills and experience – crucial factors in healthcare. The development of the office market in the post-corona era is an important issue for all companies operating in facility services. The number of m2 will shrink, which is a risk for the cleaning companies. However, it is also expected that the use of office spaces will be laid out differently, which creates opportunities for our cleaning companies and the companies operating in facility management.
The challenge that remains: working on vital professionalism and attractive employment practices
The environment in which we live and work changes constantly. This fact is true for all of the countries and sectors in which we operate. Corona has accelerated some issues and brought others to a halt. Nevertheless, the impact of corona on our work and on employment practices is limited in the long-term. There are greater, permanent developments. Employees must continue to work longer due to the increase in the retirement age and/or a decreasing pension benefit. There also continues to be a shortage in the labour market regarding our executing occupations (cleaners, gardeners, healthcare personnel) because fewer and fewer practically trained young people are entering the market. Both developments mean that the average age in our organisation is increasing. As the age increases, the recovery time that is required after performing work also increases; employees take longer in order to be able to start the new day rested and full of energy. This is a risk for Vebego. At the same time, it is also an opportunity to organise it better for our employees and to create a place where people can go to work healthy and full of energy until they retire. That is why we focus on the vitality of our employees with our Vital Professionalism programme.
In addition to physical health, this programme also focuses on mental, financial and emotional well-being. All four factors are essential for how we make and do the work in a meaningful, healthy and sustainable manner, now and in the future. The programme also makes us more attractive as an employer. We are also attractive by, for example, investing in professionalism and training and by recognising, embracing and welcoming every talent in our organisation. We do that everywhere in our organisation, from cleaner to director, from gardener to healthcare manager. This makes our powerful collective even more powerful. In this manner, we also strengthen our position in the market, increase our name recognition in the labour market and work every day on our position as one of the most inclusive employers in the Netherlands. These efforts contribute substantially to our goal: a positive impact on people.
Complexity in laws and regulations
Vebego has been confronted the last few years with increasingly more complex laws and regulations. In the Netherlands, in particular, the regulatory pressure increases more each year, but also in the other countries, we see more requirements from, among others, the government, accountants and tax authorities. In order to remain ‘in control’, we work from the holding company with an internal audit process that provides a comprehensive checklist and a data book every quarter. The checklist is continuously monitored and adjusted to current relevant laws and regulations and any incidents. The large companies within Vebego process this checklist every quarter; smaller companies do this twice per year. The holding’s internal audit team checks the completed checklists through a sampling procedure. For this purpose, they primarily verify whether the rules have been properly observed and whether any deficiencies have been resolved. We set up a Tax Control Framework in 2020 that will be implemented as of the first quarter 2021.
Our external audit of the financial statements is performed by Deloitte.
We are working on further improving the quality of our administrative organisation in order to be able to continue to meet the requirements that are set. Cooperation between the companies in the different countries is important for that purpose. In Switzerland, more and more administrative tasks are performed centrally by the largest operating company, Vebego AG in Zurich. In the Netherlands, the arrival of shared services has been an important step in the efficient organisation of administrative and back office processes (among others, remuneration, purchasing, invoicing). All Vebego cleaning companies in the Netherlands already make full use of these shared services. Vebego actively endeavours to have its companies organise their back offices more jointly per country. In the Netherlands, for example, the intention is to expand the shared services with HR expertise, sustainable employability, IT, purchasing and legal matters. All Dutch companies will purchase these services from the collective back office.
The number of ransomware and phishing attacks is still increasing. This is a reality against which Vebego must also arm itself. Investments were made in previous years to increase the security and to set up a Security Operations Centre (SOC) that monitors 24/7 and acts, if necessary, where all of the infrastructure components are monitored. The rollout of a mandatory security awareness programme was begun In the second half of 2020 in order to also make our employees more alert to these types of issues. The introduction of data classification will dominate 2021, with the goal of being able to better secure personal data and other sensitive data. We also continue the annual internal security audits, where security is evaluated at all our companies and improved year after year.
Financial impact risks
The degree and speed of recovery after the corona crisis has the most important impact on our strategic and operational risks. The impact on Vebego depends on individual factors and factors that are related to each other. We do not see any need to further adjust the system of internal risk management in 2021. It is not possible to determine the consequences of risks that may occur in the future and that are not addressed in the current system of risk management. However, 2020 does show that Vebego is quite capable of adapting the organisation to rapidly changing circumstances. Vebego is a strong and solid family business that is very conservatively financed and can tolerate a blow.