The road to recovery

4 min read

Dear colleagues,

In less than three months, we have faced disruptions at a speed and scale unprecedented in our era. Strict physical distancing, lock-downs, and the cancellation of all but essential activity have been the new normal for many among us. I would like to thank each and every one of you for your understanding, your efforts and your dedication during these very difficult weeks.

On the operational side

As encouraging signs of flattening the curve are shown in some regions, restrictions are progressively eased and, while maintaining physical distancing, a moderate level of economic activity is being restored in many countries. At BESIX, most of our activities are gradually returning to their pre-crisis pace, although possibly with timing differences between the countries due to the very heterogeneous situations around the globe.

In this context, the priority of BESIX management remains your health and safety. I therefore insist that hygiene and protection measures are fully and strictly enforced and respected, both on our sites and in our offices. Three e-learning modules “COVID-19 Awareness” have been developed to help you understand and apply these new measures; they are available to all on eAcademy.

On the financial side

Unfortunately, flattening the virus is also flattening the economy. The challenge we face is twofold. First, the virus is disturbing our entire business model by adding costs, reducing revenues and increasing uncertainty. Lockdowns and physical distancing measures have shuttered large parts of our businesses around the world. This has brought our overall profitability far below budget as our income has drastically slowed down while expenses continue to roll out.

Secondly, there was already an economic crisis before Covid-19, especially in the Middle East, and it has been made worse as soon as oil prices went down. Therefore, the order book is also affected since clients are suspending decisions or cancelling projects.

I won’t hide the fact that the forecast for end of the year is quite uncertain. This being said, we also have a strong cash position and are sufficiently liquid to deal with the crisis. In order to maintain this strong position, we had to act quickly to reduce our cash-out, restore our financial balance and, ultimately, regain control.

Going forward

Looking forward, we are convinced that our purpose remains valid, more than ever. Excel is what we do best, and improving our operational excellence is key to create value and mitigate the effects of the current crisis.

In the coming weeks, we are going to regularly communicate about these topics: how to improve operational excellence (better selecting tenders, better preparing our works, better executing our projects) and create value (looking for upstream and downstream revenues, looking for more opportunities with recurrent revenues, boosting One Stop Shop opportunities, adapting to digitization). This focus is key to overcome the crisis for a business point of view.

From a human point of view, we do thank those among you who participated to the well-being survey sent a couple of weeks ago. Your feedback is currently analyzed and rest assured that your input will be integrated going forward.

We can do this!

Even if our businesses are disrupted, I want to share our confidence in the strength of our Group. In 110 years, BESIX has faced other crises and known many challenging instances. Just as we did then, our organization today, thanks to you, continues to show tremendous grit and resilience.

To all of you, no matter how you are impacted by the current crisis, we would like to send a message of encouragement and gratitude. You who haven’t stopped working on site in challenging situations, you who are locked-down in very remote places, you who are working from home juggling with parental duties, you whose activities have been put between brackets and are temporarily unemployed, or you who are ill or quarantined: yes, we are going through some tough times. But as a smart, passionate and resilient force, we'll get through them together!

The need for what we do – shaping tomorrow’s landscape, creating solutions that help people move, work, live, play and care– will continue, even after this difficult time is behind us. Therefore, we must pull together, and while making sure that safety is a top priority, keep our projects and business moving forward. It is my core belief that we are well positioned to collectively face the current and future uncertainty. We can do this!

I know that BESIX, as a top-contractor and high-end brand, will come through the other side and that our clients will be happy to see how good we are in delivering top projects, thanks to our amazing range of expertise. When that great day comes, I promise you that we will celebrate it with passion and with care, as the family we are.

The management of BESIX would like to thank you all wholeheartedly for your understanding and dedication to our Group.

Take care.

Rik Vandenberghe

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