ARKEMA REMAINS ON A SOLID FOOTING IN THE CONTEXT OF COVID-19 AND IS AMBITIOUS FOR THE FUTURE.
Thierry Le Hénaff
Thierry Le Hénaff reviews the Group’s strong performance in 2019, and discusses the start of 2020, which has been marked by an unprecedented global crisis. This exceptional situation has highlighted the agility of Arkema’s workforce and the Group’s financial solidity. Looking beyond the current year, Thierry Le Hénaff has confidence in the next stage of the Group’s development, which was presented to investors at the recent Strategic Update, and in Arkema’s vision of becoming fully focused on Specialty Materials by 2024.
SOLIDARITY IS ONE OF ARKEMA’S FOUR KEY VALUES, AND WE ARE DEMONSTRATING IT VERY CLEARLY IN THE CURRENT SITUATION.
Thierry Le Hénaff – This crisis is truly unprecedented, and we had to act quickly while continuing to adapt to the changing situation. In these troubled times, Arkema’s immediate priority has been to put in place the necessary health and safety measures to protect the Group’s employees, and also to support governments in order to limit the spread of the virus, paying particular attention to the most vulnerable people.
Internally, we have put in place strict and coherent procedures in line with the requirements in each country. We have stepped up measures to reduce exposure and face-to-face contact, and we have limited site access to essential staff only, with strict safety and disinfection measures in place.
We have also ensured that protective measures and social distancing are being respected, and have moved to remote working wherever possible.
The Executive Committee holds a daily video conference to discuss the running of the Group, define new initiatives, and keep up to date with the situation in this rapidly changing context. We are now busy preparing for the second quarter, which could be more complicated for businesses in terms of demand.
I have been impressed by the commitment and professionalism of our people around the world. The Group’s values are essential in this context. Solidarity is one of Arkema’s four key values, and we are demonstrating it very clearly in the current situation.
T. L. H. – Thanks to the efforts of Arkema’s employees, we have been able to maintain our operations wherever possible around the world and serve our clients in conditions that are often complex. Many of our products are essential to downstream industries and the economies of countries in which we operate.
We have also responded to high demand from our clients for several of our products such as PMMA (acrylic glass) sheets to protect checkout staff in supermarkets, PVDF to make protective masks, and molecular sieves for medical respirators. The number of examples increases every week and makes our expertise particularly relevant.
We are proud to contribute to the fight against Covid-19. We also quickly put in place systems to produce large volumes of alcohol sanitizer gel in France, and to a lesser extent in the United States. This socially responsible effort has been possible thanks to the rapid response and expertise of our teams.
T. L. H. – The crisis, which started off being about global health, has rapidly turned into a full economic crisis with a steep decline in demand in many sectors such as automobiles and construction, and with a real lack of visibility.
Fortunately, the Group is solid and prepared for this situation, although we will require a great deal of effort internally during this time. Our sound management in the past, our healthy balance sheet, our technological expertise, our commercial presence, and our progress in recent years are all strengths that mean we can look ahead with great caution and concern, of course, but also with confidence. Our diversified presence on many end markets gives us greater protection than businesses that depend on one or two segments.