Letter from the Chairman
The 12 months of 2020 have been exceptional in the life of society as a whole. As in so many other respects, the Covid-19 pandemic has also had an impact on businesses, both in their day-to-day management and in their long-term planning. Today, the situation has forced us to live, if possible, even closer to current events.
Please allow me to begin this message by thanking all the people who make up EROSKI. People who, individually and collectively, have lived up to what society has demanded of them with determination and efficiency, offering the best of themselves for the benefit of the community. Needless to say, this response did not come as a surprise. But it is essential to recognise this, especially when it reaches this level of dedication.
The fact is that the classification of our activity as an ‘essential service’ has required us to rise to the challenges with agility and speed.
We make it a top priority to ensure to guarantee the safety of both our employees and customers. The situation was complicated at the onset of the pandemic, but we ended up certifying our establishments through the Bureau Veritas Safest Store seal.
At the same time, we had to ensure that our stores were well stocked every day. The entire value chain worked exceptionally, and we managed to meet an accumulated demand that increased significantly at the start of the crisis.
The pandemic has unevenly affected different groups and, luckily, we have been able to meet the most pressing needs of several of them. We donated 1,000,000 face masks to municipal councils and social entities; we provided access to essential items through our Solidarity Card, made available to public institutions, and donated the equivalent of more than 6.5 million tonnes of meals to Food Banks. We provided a home grocery delivery service to thousands of elderly citizens. The most complicated year had to be the most charitable year.
Consumers have changed their shopping habits and we want to accompany them in that change. They sought other ways of relating to us and used the online channel and the Internet intensively. This represents a present and future challenge, because the circumstantial has now become structural. The much talked-about digital business innovation and transformation must be aimed at facilitating the customer’s life, helping them to find innovative and different products, and ensuring a more satisfactory, agile and efficient shopping experience.
Likewise, that more omnichannel consumer is acquiring healthier and more sustainable consumption habits. To facilitate this evolution, EROSKI has broadened its own-brand Eco/Bio product range, both in fresh produce and non-perishable food. Furthermore, we are facilitating access to products with high standards in aspects such as their environmental footprint or animal welfare, in addition to bringing the origin of the products closer to the place where they will be consumed.
Without any solution of continuity, 2021 is already under way and, from a corporate and organisational perspective, EROSKI has taken its first steps to adapt its structure to the new reality. Rosa Carabel is the Group’s new Managing Director. Those of us who are lucky enough to work with her know her talent, determination and team-leading skills. Rosa presides over a Board of Directors which has broadened in scope to include areas that will be essential in the near future, such as innovation and development. These changes are consistent with the challenges of the EROSKI we want to continue building: opening and transforming more stores, investing in more efficient and sustainable logistics and with a sustained commitment to fresh produce and proximity. Neither do we forget the road map marked by the United Nations’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to which we aim to contribute decisively under our adhesion to the Global Compact in 2002 and which we endorse annually by updating our Commitments to Health and Sustainability defined in 2018 through the contributions of 8,000 Client Partners.
One of the latest steps we have taken at the corporate level was to include a partner to share the management of our business in Catalonia and in the Balearic Islands. This transaction creates a very positive scenario in which to continue to consolidate our businesses in said geographic regions and is undoubtedly a definitive step in the debt restructuring process begun in 2009.
This annual report that you have in your hands includes interesting data and details that endorse the message I have wanted to convey in these few lines. I hope you find it an inspiring read.
Chairman of the EROSKI Group