The Vebego strategy is focused on growth and impact. Over the last three years, we have brought order to the foundation of our organisation with “Vebego vitalises”. Much has been achieved: we work together better, IT and processes have become more clear-cut. We have also gained more understanding of our impact on customers, employees and society. The foundation for further growth has been established in recent years so that we are ready for the next step.
The next five years will begin under the banner One family. One culture. One language. with various new initiatives and projects, in addition to projects that run through the first phase of Vebego 2025. All of the projects serve the same, collective objective: To keep Vebego healthy and fit so that we continue to provide the best quality service after 2025 and offer meaningful work to as many people as possible. Examples of projects are improving the positioning of the companies, achieving CO2 neutrality in 2030 and developing an audit framework for companies in order to properly safeguard all of the governmental requirements and expectations.
Designing our Future
The most important project within Vebego 2025 is “Designing our Future”. This project focuses on building a strong organisation that consists of a select number of effective companies that can further develop into leading players in their market. By restructuring Vebego and simplifying entities, we want to enable further growth, impact and more effective work. This restructuring was decided upon at the end of 2020 and the first phase has begun. We have now detailed further how we wish to approach the restructuring into larger companies and in which phases that will occur. The intention is to form eleven large companies in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, active in cleaning, facility management, landscaping, personnel services and healthcare, in 2023. These companies are becoming even more attractive to work with and for, due to entrepreneurship, smart and flexible processes and all attention for customers and employees.
The plan is to form five large companies in the Netherlands within two years, companies that are active in cleaning, landscaping, healthcare, facility management and products & systems. The intention is also to expand the existing service and expertise centre with a few new functions and to build additional expertise in the manner in which we can properly and efficiently support all of the Vebego companies in the Netherlands in the short and longer term. These intended decisions entail changes. The Works Councils will be closely involved for this purpose. We will take great care in setting up the transition process. Employees who experience a change in work due to the combining of companies will be able to count on careful guidance.
Belgium, Germany and Switzerland
In the long-term, Vebego also aims to merge and further strengthen its activities in facility services, healthcare and temporary employment in Belgium and Germany. In Switzerland, the transformation of the current facility service provider, Vebego AG, already began in 2018, with the goal of becoming a leading service organisation in cleaning and facility services in 2023.
Fewer systems, fewer companies: more cooperation, more control
Vebego has always given entrepreneurship plenty of space. The company has benefited from this policy. It was perhaps the secret behind the success and turbulent growth: a wide range of activities in several countries, once eight, now four. The downside is that gradually a multitude of operating companies, holding companies, work procedures and systems have arisen. Ferry Muller is Chief Financial Officer at Vebego and also responsible for risk, compliance, governance and IT. He outlines the consequences: ‘Vebego traditionally works from a basis of freedom and responsibility. For almost every new idea, a private limited company was set up and often also a holding company in order to limit risks. Many companies have their own tools, their own controller and their own back office. Within Vebego, there are 20 financial systems, more than 140 legal entities and 80 companies with a serious profit and loss account. There are 40 full audits per year and 50 reviews at the joint ventures. All of this is a lot of work, operationally - for example, how do you arrange the auditing at all those companies? - as well as legally.
Internal and external drivers of change
The pressure to work with all of those systems and companies has become even greater in recent years. It is clear to everyone internally that there is much efficiency to be gained by setting up smart and flexible processes and by combining knowledge and expertise that all of the Vebego companies can use. But there is also a lot of outside pressure. ‘Over the past five or six years, we have been dealing with increasingly complex laws and regulations, such as the Wet ketenaansprakelijkheid [Sequential Liability Act], Wet op de identificatieplicht [Compulsory Identification Act], the AvG [GDPR]. Developments in the IT field are very fast. It is almost impossible to keep all of those individual companies up-to-date and also not at all effective. In addition, the management of risks for large companies such as Vebego has changed fundamentally. As parent company, you have to be able to demonstrate much more than before that you are in control, that you have an understanding of all the companies under you, that you recognise and manage risks at the level of the entire group.’
Simplify business processes, integrate back offices
For Muller, “Designing our Future”, an important part of Vebego 2025, brings two worlds together. Vebego's strategic choice to restructure the group and to have fewer companies with more effectiveness and more impact, fully aligns with his wishes as CFO. It is now becoming entirely possible to simplify the business operations and to benefit much more from Vebego’s strength as a collective through integration of back-office processes. ‘Designing our Future saves us time, energy and money because we have fewer legal entities and more focused support from shared services. We are going to organise our specialists and our knowledge and expertise in one place. This not only provides extra assurance in terms of continuity, we can also focus much more on quality improvement in areas such as accounting, taxes, accountant, bank, personnel, finance and auditing. At the same time, we also become more in control, have better control and know for sure that we are compliant. This double benefit also occurs in IT. Now that we are going to arrange IT more centrally, there will not only be economies of scale in e.g. workplace management, but we will also immediately strengthen our cyber security.’
Legal Tax Framework
The design for the Vebego restructuring is complete, the further implementation now follows. A great deal has already been put into motion in the last years, such as central purchasing departments in the Netherlands and Belgium and a financial back office for the Dutch cleaning companies on one platform. But there is also still plenty of work to be done in 2021 ‘at the back-end’, as Muller calls it, including the merger of almost 30 small companies. An important step in 2021 will also be the development of a Legal Tax Framework for all of Vebego. Muller: ‘We want to establish a fixed set of standards for tax legislation and regulations, a review framework against which all companies will be assessed. This allows us to meet the requirements of our stakeholders, such as the Tax and Customs Administration and the accountant. This makes it easier for all of the companies to comply with all the rules and to avoid and reduce risks.’