Dear colleague shareholders,
I trust that you and your families are keeping well.
Within a record short time, the COVID-19 pandemic has forcefully changed the rules of the game in the commercial and social sphere all over the world. It has taken all of us by surprise.
When this year started rolling, no one could foresee the dark clouds that were fast approaching, nor suspect the heavy damage which was in store.
On the contrary, I and my colleagues were thrilled with the good results our Group had registered in 2019, and we were all looking forward with optimism and courage for an even better year ahead. But as you all know, in March we experienced the beginning of the terrible onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic. The lockdowns and restrictions which we faced in March left us no alternative but to react immediately and reduce our operating expenses to a minimum. Even that proved insufficient, and we had to reduce the staff complement, revise our salaries and wages, which setback obviously made it impossible for us to issue a dividend.
Notwithstanding all the savings and the subsidies and support provided by various Governments of countries where we operate, the unrelenting fact remained that the Group would still incur substantial cash losses.
We are now in a better position to assess the deficiency in our cashflow for this year and, to a certain extent, forecast for next year. We are fully aware of the hard times we have to face with more determination than ever. With this in view, the Board is keeping vigilant to assess and recommend further solutions, including how to retain our best resources, that is our workforce.
I have never allowed myself to be overtaken by pessimism and have for these last years led this Group through thick and thin in very difficult circumstances. I am doing so once again, this time against an unprecedented world disaster. I am a perennial optimist and positive thinker, and in this vein I share with you my very deep conviction that we have a robust Company which derives its strength from its people and the assets of its properties. This places us in a strong position with financial institutions and fills us with the confidence to face these difficult times with grit and a strong determination to see our way through this tunnel and ultimately exit from the other end as a stronger and a more efficient organisation.
We all look forward to the arrival of a Covid vaccine that will enable us to slowly but surely recoup the time lost and return to a normal way of life, even though normality could change to a different experience. I sincerely believe our Group will in the end be leaner and healthier. And I am equally confident that your backing will not slacken. All this gives me and my colleagues that extra drive to succeed.
AND SUCCEED WE WILL
With best regards,