As per the publication date of this report, the Covid-19 virus spread is taking a huge toll on the economy and on people’s lives worldwide. It is heavily impacting industries and companies around the world, including ours. What we have achieved in 2019 has made us better equipped to deal with the challenges ahead. We are a robust company with a very resilient team and we are prepared to take on the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic.
In 2019 Bekaert made significant steps in improving underlying performance. We strengthened the balance sheet through better cash generation and improved our margins through a combination of stronger pricing actions and broad cost reductions, including the closure of loss-making operations.
We also made a breakthrough in safety performance with robust improvements across the Group. While every accident or life-altering risk is one too many, we are proud of the progress made by our teams to create a no-harm-to-anyone working environment.
The progress made in 2019 is a reflection of our decisiveness to deliver and the strong engagement of our teams. We want to thank our employees for their active contribution and irrepressible spirit.
We recognize that our commitment to drive value creation for our stakeholders has to take into account the broader economic, environmental and social impacts of our operations. We therefore consider the interests of customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders, communities and other stakeholders in all aspects of our operations. We want to conduct and grow our business in a sustainable way so that our stakeholders all benefit.
Our company generates economic value through employment, capital investments, dividends, and payments to capital providers and governments. We co-operate with customers and suppliers to develop products and processes that contribute to a cleaner environment. We interact with local governments in a transparent and constructive way and we strive to be a loyal and responsible partner in the communities where we are active.
Our Company Values distinguish us and guide our actions. We conduct business in a socially responsible and ethical way. We have translated our sustainability ambitions into clear targets so we make a positive contribution to our employees, to the environment, and to society as a whole.
We want to thank our customers, partners and shareholders for their continued trust. And we want to thank our employees for their commitment and drive.
Chief Executive Officer
Chairman of the Board