Over the last 125 years, SHV has faced a number of tough times when doing business was a challenge. Yet what we experienced in 2020 was unprecedented in the last decades. A worldwide crisis that demanded a complete change to our way of working and a whole new mindset. After all, social distancing is not a natural part of how we want to work.
Looking back on the year, we are proud that SHV returned positive results – not only due to divestments. Our solid foundations have once again shown they can weather a storm. Conservative financing allowed for more stability, short communication lines allowed us to respond quickly and, above all, good leaders adapted quickly and with their people managed well throughout.
The challenging economic circumstances have had impact on the different Groups, with Corona-related restrictions worsened by a fall in oil & gas prices. Yet, business models adapted where necessary, reorganisations took place, and costs were controlled.
Following the strategic review, the sale of the majority of the Makro stores outside the State of São Paulo has been concluded, with great care taken to ensure the well-being of those colleagues who left. Subsequently, in November, SHV was approached for the sale of Makro Peru by InRetail, the country’s largest retailer. After careful deliberation it was decided to accept the offer as it is the firm belief that Makro Peru and its employees would become part of an organisation that enables them to grow and prosper in the future.
Remote working meant that all meetings became virtual – and the meetings of the Supervisory Board of Directors (SBD) were no exception. In regular meetings, the SBD met with the Executive Board of Directors five times during the year to discuss and monitor performance, strategic progress, large investments, and various ongoing projects. In addition to regular Group performance updates, the Rolling Forecast was frequently discussed as was the financing of SHV and of the Groups. Health and Safety, Human Resources, Digital Transformation Initiatives, IT, Sustainability and Innovation were also addressed over the course of 2020. Where needed several meetings were held in addition to those already scheduled.
The SBD paid a virtual visit to NuFrontiers to learn more about its activities. As part of Nutreco, NuFrontiers focuses on strategic innovation and investing in new technologies. In doing so, it will provide valuable support to “Feeding the Future” in years to come. The SBD explored the worlds of digital precision farming, alternative proteins, and land-based fish farming. It was a very insightful ‘visit’ and one that highlighted the progress being made to feed the world’s population while minimising the impact on our planet.
The SBD was also involved in the Purpose project. Courage to care for generations to come is a perfect fit with SHV and its values and will be a powerful beacon in years to come.
Our Annual Shareholders meeting in April also took place online. It was a new experience and one that, despite the circumstances, went very well. During the meeting Ms Pamela Mars Wright and Mr Jean Marc Etlin were both reappointed for a period of four years.
In 2021 SHV celebrates its 125th birthday. Since April 1st, 1896, the company has never stopped exploring new ways of doing business. Innovation is strongly rooted in our history, and today the branches reach far and wide in search of new endeavours. In light of the ongoing pandemic, we have decided to postpone celebrations until 2022. This is also part of SHV where we have always managed change. And so we look forward to celebrating our 126th year, another proud milestone in our history.
Performance, in every aspect of the word, is always driven by people. We are very impressed and extremely grateful for the efforts made this past year by all employees of SHV. Guidance, support, and encouragement have never been needed more - and they were provided by the strong leadership of Jeroen, Ricardo, Floris and Fulco as the Executive Board of Directors. We are thankful for this and their hard work in 2020. Under their direction, we are confident that SHV will be able to face and overcome the ongoing challenges in the best possible way. Just as we have done for the last 125 years.
Utrecht, 11 March 2021
On behalf of the Supervisory Board of Directors,
A.M. Fentener van Vlissingen