CHAIRWOMAN OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
There will definitely be a before and an after. Widespread lockdowns, isolation, concern for our most vulnerable loved ones and impending economic collapse: the pandemic has affected all of us in an extremely tangible way, to varying degrees. It has forced us to rebalance our priorities virtually overnight. It has made us acutely aware of how fragile and critically important our health and our human and social ties are.
In 2019, we wondered what challenges the new decade had in store. In 2020, the entire world was turned upside down. We already suspected that uncertainty had become our new normal: there can no longer be any doubt. We’ve stepped squarely into the 21st century. Will it be a time of getting back to what really matters? In any case, our societies find themselves more than ever at a crossroads in terms of economic, social and environmental balance
2020 has been a pivotal year for Sodexo too. Never before has our company experienced such extreme upheaval. The global health crisis that has dealt such a blow to the world and the real economy has also created a sudden drop in demand for our services. We are a link – a vital one – in the chain, and when our clients are brought to a standstill, it affects us directly. The impact on our company is undeniable: we lost nearly a third of our revenue in the second half of our fiscal year. We’ve had to make some very painful decisions to compensate for the abrupt slowdown in certain areas of our business: -88% in our Sports & Leisure segment, -47.2% in Education and -29.2% in Business & Administrations. Every aspect of our development has been deeply and permanently affected. On a fundamental level, we have always been a growth company. My ambition for Sodexo is clear: we will continue to be one. We will respond to this crisis by accelerating the transformation of our traditional value creation models, not only to secure the future of our company , but even more so to open new development paths.
To that end, I first want to highlight how strongly the previous months have revealed the vital importance and tremendous value of our service professions. Our teams working in health care facilities and with senior populations have also been on the front lines in the fight against the virus. They have helped keep essential infrastructures running. Without them, there can be no economic recovery.