Supervisory Board Chairman’s statement
In 2019, AkzoNobel continued to make progress on its transformation as a focused paints and coatings company and remains fully committed to further strengthening its position as a global leader in our industry.
The company’s Winning together: 15 by 20 strategy – with its ambitious target – gathered solid momentum. The focus on value over volume played a key role in driving progress. Significant effort is being put into strengthening company systems and processes, as well as working on operational excellence in the supply chain organization and reinforcing our customer intimacy. We are mid-journey, although there are clear signs that the reorganization and focus on cost savings are starting to have an impact, and this should gather momentum during 2020. The Supervisory Board has been impressed by the progress made, with clear improvements in profitability achieved in every quarter during 2019.
We are closely monitoring the ongoing transformation and focus on encouraging management to seek the right balance between delivering short-term results and long-term sustainability. It’s reassuring to see that management’s strategic priorities address both the underlying challenges and drive the necessary immediate changes. This should deliver the simplification and operational excellence required to build long-term competitiveness. We are also pleased to see that the company continues to pay close attention to its core principles of safety, integrity and sustainability, despite the pressures being put on the organization by its transformation.
During the business reviews and visits to various sites, I have been excited to see the employees’ pride for AkzoNobel and their passion for paint as they continue to contribute to the company’s ambitious targets. During these transformative years, employee engagement remains a key focus area, together with further strengthening collaboration throughout the organization.
As part of building passion for paint inside and around the company, we were particularly pleased with the success of Paint the Future. Innovation is fundamental to AkzoNobel’s future success and great strides forward are being made in terms of working with partners who share the same pioneering vision. Strongly linked to sustainability, innovation helps to ensure that the company will continue to offer customers the best performing portfolio of products and services.
Throughout the year, the leadership team – led by Thierry Vanlancker – displayed admirable drive and ambition, constantly focused on the improvement plans. The challenges ahead remain substantial and will require a determined effort by the whole organization. During the coming year, the Supervisory Board’s focus will be to work with the management team on the company strategy beyond 2020. As we deliver on our margin improvement strategy, we can raise our ambition level and lay out plans for a compelling vision to show how AkzoNobel, together with its employees and partners, will become a true global leader in our industry.
During 2019, we welcomed Jolanda Poots-Bijl to the Supervisory Board, following approval at the Annual General Meeting held in April. She is a recognized expert in finance and brings a wealth of experience with her. Jolanda succeeded Peggy Bruzelius, who retired after serving for a maximum of 12 years. Peggy brought significant experience to the Supervisory Board and the Audit Committee and we thank her for her excellent contribution.
Finally, I would like to thank the entire Supervisory Board, the Board of Management, the Executive Committee and all AkzoNobel employees around the world for their hard work and commitment during another busy year for the company.
Amsterdam, February 11, 2020
Nils Smedegaard Andersen
Chairman of the Supervisory Board