Interview with our CEOs
While the world economic outlook is shaky, our co-CEOs Charles Beauduin and An Steegen look back upon 2022 with satisfaction – and even a sense of pride. During their first full year at the helm of Barco, they have been able to turn the tide and steer the business forward. More than that, they’re confident the future looks good for Barco, even in today’s uncertain economic climate.
Barco endured some rough times during the pandemic. Last year, you anticipated that 2022 would be a year of transition. Did this turn out to be true?
Charles: "I’d call 2022 a year of recovery. The engine picked up speed and kept accelerating as the year progressed. Barco met or maybe even exceeded expectations: both our sales and share price went up, which are clear tokens of market confidence.”
An: “What’s just as important – or even more so – is the renewed dynamics in our teams. We managed to bring back a positive vibe, which became really apparent to us at our Capital Markets Day in September 2022. We gave our different teams the stage to talk about their performance, vision and strategy, and they did so with enormous enthusiasm. Our brand-new experience center, by the way, was a fantastic setting for showcasing the power of Barco technology.”
“In 2022, the engine picked up speed and kept accelerating. That was reflected in our financials, yet just as important – or even more so – is the renewed dynamics in our teams.”An Steegen
Looking back: keys to our 2022 success
So, what is the secret behind that recovery and the new vibe?
Charles: "When we came on board, we immediately decided to simplify our organization. The structure had become too complex, at the cost of efficiency, accountability, innovation and customer intimacy. While there was some skepticism about the reshuffle in the beginning, I’m pretty sure that everyone will now agree that this was a smart thing to do.”
An: “Indeed, that is one of the keys to our success. On top of that, we keep highlighting all the opportunities that Barco has in its markets and invest intensely, up to 11% of our sales, to accelerate innovation. Of course, we know that we won’t reap all the fruit of those investments immediately, but they are an absolute must for a successful future.”
Charles: “We shouldn’t forget our investments in our manufacturing capabilities. The focused factories that are underway will be largely automated and state-of-the-art, which will boost efficiency, quality and agility. I’m sure these investments inspire trust as well, among all our stakeholders.”
China plays a leading role in Barco’s plans, yet 2022 hasn’t been the best year for the Chinese economy. Does that impact your China strategy?
An: “We can’t ignore the fact that it’s been a difficult year to conduct business in China. The covid lockdowns have really burdened the economy. Still, the foundations remain unshaken and we are hopeful that the economy will recover in 2023.”
Charles: “Let me highlight that there are multiple reasons for us to strengthen our foothold in China. Sure, we are expanding our manufacturing footprint there, but not for mere cost-saving reasons. China is the world’s second largest economy and our market potential there is huge, especially in entertainment and healthcare. In our Chinese factories, we research, design and produce solutions for both local and global markets, and our on-site sales team understands the needs like no other.”
“Sure, we are expanding our manufacturing footprint in China, but not merely to save costs. China is the world’s second largest economy and our market potential there is huge, especially in entertainment and healthcare.”Charles Beauduin
Looking forward: challenges along the way
Looking forward, what do you consider to be Barco’s biggest challenges?
An: “Accelerating innovation, for sure. Image processing is part of everything we do at Barco and we’ve always been a visualization champion, but we need more groundbreaking, value-added solutions that ultimately set us apart. And we need them quickly, in order to keep ahead of our competitors. That does require a different mindset and new skills. We’ve taken great leaps forward in the field over the past year.”
What about the looming recession. Are you afraid it might impact Barco’s business?
Charles: “Most economists and other experts predict a mild recession in Europe and the Americas, and we hope they are right. Our portfolio is strong enough to weather a recession. Just look at today’s major market trends: images take center stage, hybrid is the new normal, big data is on the rise … Barco has the solutions to meet those exact needs.”
ESG: more than Environmental, also Social
Sustainability is also one of the mega trends. Barco has set the tone in that field for years. Can you retain that frontrunner position?
Charles: “Sustainability has been in Barco’s roadmap for years and we keep sharpening our focus in that field. Besides boosting the sustainability of our own operations, we also help our customers cut CO2 emissions, by providing them with increasingly modular, energy-efficient and circular solutions.“
An: “What’s more, some Barco products are really part of the sustainability solution, like our ClickShare tools for hybrid meetings. When looking at the Social pillar of our ESG approach, we decided to put Diversity and Inclusion high on the agenda. It’s apparent even at the very top of Barco how diversity spurs dialogue, discussions and, therefore, creativity and innovation – and that’s just what we need as a global technology company.”
“It’s apparent even at the very top of Barco how diversity spurs dialogue, discussions and, therefore, creativity and innovation – and that’s just what we need as a global technology company.”An Steegen
2023 and beyond
In conclusion, what are your expectations for 2023 and beyond?
Charles: “To continue along the path that we have been busy paving. Barco has tons of experience and expertise in visualization, which is a field with huge potential these days. And we have diverse, smart and ambitious teams who all work hard to build our future. I’m positive about what’s coming.”
An: “I can’t agree more. And let’s not forget our customers, partners and investors who help us shape our story. Thanks to every single stakeholder for their continued support.”
“Barco has tons of experience and expertise in visualization, which is a field with huge potential these days. And we have diverse, smart and ambitious teams. I’m positive about what’s coming.”Charles Beauduin