In the years 2018 and 2019, Vebego invested a great deal in the organisation. Vebego is a family business with a long-term focus and with objectives that go beyond the next financial year. The long-term investments (among other things, in IT systems and in the expansion of shared services) produced their first benefits in 2019 with a decrease in overhead costs and improvements in operations. Expectations for 2020 were high, the budget was based on a considerable increase in turnover and result. The arrival of corona cancelled many of the plans made. For example, the companies in the segments affected by corona had significant reductions in result in 2020. Nonetheless, Vebego achieved a positive result in 2020, which was higher than in 2019. The financial statements contain a provision of € 7.5 million for the announced organisational change, “Designing Our Future”, which had a negative impact on the 2020 result.
The net result for 2020 was € 17 million (2019: € 9 million), a return of 2% (2019: 1%). The companies within the group that were less vulnerable to corona were able to compensate for the lesser results from other Vebego companies. The improvement compared to 2019 stems partly from the result from the acquired joint ventures that were fully consolidated in 2020. The main cause, however, is the fact that in 2020, we stopped all expenditures that did not directly contribute to the primary process. In particular, the investments with a longer-term horizon were put on hold during the first corona wave. A temporary hiring freeze was also instated for jobs outside of the direct operation. The great uncertainty that gripped all companies and certainly also Vebego shortly after the outbreak of the corona crisis in March, necessitated these measures.
The suspension of the short-term and long-term investments and the temporary hiring freeze are not structural in nature. The corona crisis showed how important it is to keep looking ahead; the previous investments in IT systems, for example, ensured that we could quickly switch to working from home. In order to prevent an exodus, an internal flexible pool was set up after the end of the first quarter in order to deploy employees who work in severely hit sectors, such as airports and event locations, in areas such as healthcare, for example. Vebego had already begun to catch up at the end of 2020; it is expected that this will lead to a substantially lower result in 2021. Later in this chapter, we will discuss the expectations for 2021 in more detail.