CEO Koen Slippens: ‘As regards economic developments and our sales markets, 2020 was entirely defined by COVID-19. The outbreak of the pandemic and the measures governments took to combat it seriously affected our sales markets. The hospitality industry, sports clubs, stadiums, leisure facilities, corporate catering and events were all hit hard. The delivery channel was affected severely, suffering periods in which net sales fell by as much as 75%. In contrast, cash-and-carry gave many entrepreneurs a good alternative and net sales there even increased. We estimate the Group’s loss of net sales to be €0.5 billion as a consequence of COVID-19.
We were able to increase our market share in the Netherlands by 2.4% to 26.6% due to the good spread of our customer base across various segments in the food service markets, in combination of cash-and-carry with delivery services and the strength of the formula. Our short-term focus was also to offset the drop in net sales and adjust costs and investments to keep the cash in the organisation. We were successful in that regard. In Belgium, we retained our market share and offset the fall in net sales with specific interventions in costs.
We also focused on our financing and liquidity. In constructive talks with our banks and financiers, we tackled various potential scenarios and created extra leeway. It was good to note that we ultimately did not need that extra leeway during the year.
The consequences of COVID-19 will also dominate a major part of 2021. If the vaccination strategy is successful, we expect to see gradual recovery from the second quarter on. On the basis of our experiences in 2020, we know that recovery can happen quickly and that consumers will return to hospitality venues as soon as they are permitted to do so. These assumptions lead us to expect that we will approach our pre-COVID-19 net sales levels during the second half of the year.'
Read more in the press release:
The annual report for 2020 will be published on 5 February.
Comments on the annual figures will follow at an online press conference and an online analyst meeting.
The presentation is here available.
In our trading update of 22 April 2021, we will go into developments in the first quarter of 2021 in greater detail, and we will publish our interim figures on 22 July 2021.
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