Supervisory Board's report
With this report, the Supervisory Board of Witteveen+Bos N.V. (hereafter RvC) aims to provide Witteveen+Bos’s stakeholders with an insight into how we performed our role in 2020.
It was an exceptionally unusual year, defined largely by corona. Once it had become apparent that the virus would have significant consequences for the global economy and for Witteveen+Bos, the Board of Directors and the RvC kept in very close contact. From March onwards, a monthly digital meeting was held during which the impact on Witteveen+Bos was discussed with reference to interim financial results. We placed great emphasis on monitoring the liquidity of the company. Other aspects that we kept a close eye on included productivity, employee health and the overall impact of the global crisis on the continuity of the business.
In 2020 we held meetings with the auditor, the Works Council, the Ethics and Compliance Officer and the new head of Human Resources. Topics of discussion included the 2021 business plan and office premises. As well as this, the RvC gave significant attention to discussing developments in the results. We were pleased to see that Witteveen+Bos’s liquidity remained positive throughout the corona period and that the company, despite all the difficulties, had an extremely good year. Digitalisation took off due to travel becoming undesirable and working from home became the norm.
A long-term exploration of the ownership structure and employee participation system had already been in progress. This scheme was a specific topic of discussion in 2020 too, and we also considered possible risk management measures. The crisis has demonstrated that continuing this line of investigation is of essential importance. The RvC will be expending a lot of energy on this in 2021 too.
In October 2020 Karin Sluis handed over the baton to Wouter Bijman and Eveline Buter, creating a three-pronged Witteveen+Bos Board of Directors together with incumbent director Stephan van der Biezen. We thank Karin Sluis for the enjoyable and open working relationship; for our part, meetings with the Board were always very constructive. We are very grateful for the way in which she filled her prolonged role as director during the first months of the corona pandemic. As a group, we are looking forward with complete confidence to working together with the (new) members of the Board.
In 2020 the first terms of Hans van der Ven and Gerard van de Aast were completed. They were both reappointed during the shareholders’ meeting for a further four years.
The 2020 annual financial statement was drafted by the Board of Directors, reviewed by external auditor Deloitte, and discussed together with our own accountant. Based on the internal assessment, we support the Board of Directors’ profit appropriation proposal. We propose that the AGM adopt the 2020 financial statement and discharge the Board of Directors from liability for its management and policy and the RvC for its supervisory duties.
In 2021 the corona pandemic remains a central issue. Planning in the interest of liquidity and increased productivity continues to be a point of attention. We will be discussing the progress of the 2021 focal points with the Board of Directors.
Special thanks go to the Board of Directors of Witteveen+Bos for the way they provided the company with leadership during the crisis and conscientiously ensured the continuity of the business. In addition, our heartfelt thanks go to the employees. In these unusual circumstances and without close collegial contact, they contributed to Witteveen+Bos’s excellent results in 2020.
We look forward to a healthy 2021 for Witteveen+Bos and its employees and go into the year full of confidence.
Deventer, 19 March 2021
Hans van der Ven (Chairperson)
Gerard van de Aast