Covid-19 caused a serious disaster in March 2020. It was certainly a very stressful time for the first few weeks and months. Suddenly, everything was uncertain. As the Supervisory Board, it is our primary task to help and advise the Board of Directors. We have therefore, for some time, worked more intensively with the Board of Directors and, where appropriate, also with other members of the Executive Board. At the beginning of the Covid period, we had an extra meeting with the Board of Directors every two weeks. The Board also explicitly invited us to join them in viewing and considering issues. After all, as members of the Supervisory Board, we also saw how other companies acted during this crisis.
Our role as Supervisory Board in time of crisis was to help consider and help out with all of the questions and choices that were presented. The first step in a situation like this is to always look at the finances and the continuity of the business operations. What is the liquidity situation, do we have enough cash? What contracts will be lost in the short term, which companies and which units will be hit the hardest? We actively helped to consider all of the conceivable scenarios. How big is the risk that customers who are having problems do not pay? And if that is the case, do we then talk to the bank? Could it be an option to postpone the payment of taxes? What are the government regulations for each country? In everything we did, we tried to help the Board of Directors reflect on the consequences of possible steps. What are the consequences, for example, if Vebego makes use of government schemes?
The Supervisory Board would like to extend Vebego's management major and explicit compliments for the decisive and courageous approach to the crisis. Appropriate use was made of government schemes, but only when that was necessary. For example, Vebego used the temporary unemployment scheme in Switzerland, but not the NOW (Tijdelijke Noodmaatregel Overbrugging voor Werkgelegenheid [Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Sustained Employment]) scheme in the Netherlands. Among other things, quick action was taken to form a flexible pool with approximately 1,000 employees. Attention for customers and market opportunities did not diminish. On the contrary: the opportunities that the crisis sometimes vprovided as well were often seized. There was an active response to customers’ needs for more frequent cleaning and disinfection. The same is applicable to the commercial activities, with extra sales of cleaning and disinfecting products.
During the past corona year, the management did not only focus on business-critical processes. Caring for people is part of Vebego's DNA and that characteristic came to the fore very clearly in the past year. There was also plenty of attention paid to the employees. Practical support in the form of facilities for working from home, but also sincere communications from the Board of Directors that motivated and supported people. These efforts have helped to make people feel connected within Vebego.
In this context, the Board is very satisfied with Vebego's result over 2020. The loss of turnover in certain companies and in specific sectors was compensated elsewhere in the group. The result is therefore positive on balance. It is also important to state that the result, in addition to the diversity in the portfolio and the ability to acquire more work in certain areas, is also due to the high quality of the customers who have continued to pay.
In the midst of the corona crisis, steps were also taken in 2020 in the further rollout of the strategy. With “Designing our future”, the Board of Directors has opted for a different group structure. Vebego is working towards a structure with fewer companies, more integration of back offices and more bundling of expertise. The new structure must lead to more efficient processes, stronger brands and more added value for customers. In parallel to this professionalisation, it is important to ensure clear responsibilities in the company management. Over the past year, Vebego has further prioritised good governance. The Executive Board, established in 2019, previously ensured that the current Board of Directors is closer to the entire company. In 2020, it was decided to expand the Executive Board with two Chief Operating Officers who are responsible for the Swiss and German Vebego companies and the Dutch and Belgian Vebego companies, respectively. This step anchors the importance of customers, companies and employees even more firmly in Vebego’s top management.
It was also decided in 2020 that Ton Goedmakers (the third generation of Goedmakers) would become the new CEO starting in 2021. Such a transition is not self-evident, but has proceeded in a proper, natural manner. Everyone was treated fairly in a careful process. As Supervisory Board, we have provided full confidence after several discussions.
The Supervisory Board met twice in person in July and December 2020 and scheduled two additional meetings that were conducted fully via MS Teams. In addition, members of the Supervisory Board conducted many one-to-one discussions, discussions and select groups due to Covid-19. Arend Vos left the Supervisory Board at the end of 2020 and is now head of the Vebego Stichting administratiekantoor [Administration Office Foundation]. This change means that the shareholder’s interests have been allocated more clearly, which also contributes to good governance.
We hereby present you with the 2020 Annual Report prepared by the Board of Directors. The 2020 financial statements have been audited by Deloitte Accountants B.V. and are accompanied by an unqualified audit statement from an independent auditor. The financial statements have been approved by our Supervisory Board. We can endorse the result appropriation proposal included in the financial statements. We recommend that the General Meeting adopts the 2020 financial statements.
Pamela Boumeester, Chairman
Ton Goedmakers Sr.
Loes van Rijsoort
Jan van Hoek
Voerendaal, 17 May 2021