Message from the CEO
Dear customers, business partners,
employees and shareholders,
A year to forget? An unforgettable year? Whatever option you choose, 2020 was an unprecedented year for each and every one of us.
Just like at many other organizations, the entire Barco team worked extraordinarily hard to navigate the human and business impacts of the covid-19 crisis. In spite of our efforts and the many measures we took, we could not prevent our results from dropping steeply, as disruptions in supply chains and demand knocked demand off balance. But we are confidently poised for renewed growth when our key markets become fully active again, in the ‘new normal’.
A spirit of agility, creativity and resilience
When we’ll look back upon 2020 within a decade, I hope we’ll remember how we managed to turn that massive challenge into meaningful choices. To me, what really marked 2020 was the agility, creativity and resilience shown by each of us, individually and as a company. Many Barco employees shifted from office to remote working in no time. Others focused on keeping our factories and offices open for business, combining lots of creativity with timely, pragmatic safety protocols. We adjusted cost levels, redeployed teams to respond to market realities and ensured continuity towards our customers, helping them navigate through the market shocks.
“What really marked 2020 was the agility, creativity and resilience shown by each of us, individually and as a company.”
Building on solid foundations
2020 confirmed the importance of a strong company culture. Our values, beliefs and attitude have guided us through the crisis.
Of course, it takes more than that to keep a business sailing through the heavy winds 2020 brought. While we were initially preparing for strong growth in 2020, the Barco ship was also ready for rough weather when the coronavirus hit, as we are a fit and lean company. Between 2016 and 2019, we had intensively focused on performance, boosting operational and commercial excellence, ensuring cost efficiency and building out our commercial footprint while we shaped our organization, product portfolio and product-market strategies. In last year’s annual report, I wrote how pleased I was that Barco had a healthy, resilient platform for future growth. While the covid-19 virus left no room for growth, these solid foundations did support us in these heavy winds.
Facing head- as well as tailwinds
All three Barco markets have been impacted by the covid-19 crisis, with varying degrees of severity. We experienced some tailwinds but many headwinds. As cinemas closed down and events got cancelled, our Entertainment business faced significant downturn. In Healthcare, the pressure on hospitals initially sent demand for our diagnostic displays and remote diagnostic tools soaring. This growth, however, was offset by lower demand for healthcare solutions in the second half of the year, as elective procedures in hospitals were postponed. Enterprise sales also declined as offices locked down, but began to show signs of recovery with steady progress in the second half of the year.
Navigating through the crisis: defense and offense
Facing diminishing sales in a number of our markets, we decided to combine both defense and offense plays during the crisis. Variable cost structures, cost control measures and government support all helped keep our business running. To ensure a strong rebound from the downturn – or rather, to make sure we emerge from the pandemic even stronger – we kept investing in research and development, continued to launch new products and stepped up well-defined investments in customer engagement in 2020.
“To ensure we’d emerge even stronger from the downturn, we kept investing in research and development, continued to launch new products and stepped up investments in customer engagement in 2020.”
Recipe for recovery
We are confident that we will harvest the fruit of that approach. After all, our markets hold promising opportunities for growth in 2021 and beyond:
- Our strong healthcare visualization solutions perfectly cater to the need for increased care capacity and to elective surgery once it returns to normal levels;
- Clickshare Conference meets the needs of corporates who are now looking for the right technology to enable their hybrid workplaces;
- Our next-generation laser projection technologies will help cinema exhibitors differentiate themselves from the competition while saving costs.
In addition, we have reinforced our commercial footprint and our In China For China position, thus increasing our competitive strength across the globe. Last but not least, the covid-19 crisis has pushed Barco to operate in new ways, accelerating digitization. We’re shifting gears in that respect too. By welcoming Marc Spenlé, our new Chief Digital and Information Officer, as well as several other new colleagues with seasoned technology experience and skills, we will create value through digital innovation.
Continued focus on sustainability
While 2020 was a very different year for our entire business, Barco stuck to its sustainability commitments. Since 2017, when we decided to integrate sustainability into every aspect of our business, sustainability has been increasingly pervading everything that Barco does. In 2020, we made progress in various new domains and reached our 2020 targets for ‘planet’, among other achievements. To highlight our dedication to sustainability, we replaced our familiar Annual and Sustainability reports by this Integrated report. It underlines the fact that sustainability-linked factors are just as important as financial factors in determining our performance and helping us create value.
"This Integrated report underlines the fact that sustainability-linked factors are just as important as financial factors in helping us create value."
This year, more than ever, I want to close my message with a big thank you. Thanks to all our colleagues who adapted rapidly to the new reality. Thank you to our clients, suppliers, investors and our Board of Directors, for supporting us and maintaining trust in our long-term potential. It has been a tough year and we are not at the end of this marathon yet, but we look towards the future with confidence and are committed to keeping Barco’s performance on track.
Thanks for your continued support.
Jan De Witte