Vocento shareholders have approved the 2020 accounts at the General Meeting held this morning in Bilbao. The president of the group, Ignacio Ybarra, and the CEO, Luis Enríquez, have uncovered the keys on which the company’s strategy will revolve in 2021, based on digital growth, diversification, classifieds and efficiency.
As the president of Vocento explained, the meeting was held “under unusual conditions” and with the assistance of only the “essential” team, in order to “protect the health of shareholders, employees and suppliers.” In fact, the protection of health, employment and the sustainability of the business have been the main objectives of the group since the beginning of the pandemic. Among the measures that have been implemented is that of facilitating telework, “currently 70% of the workforce is working telematically”, two ERTES have been carried out and other cost saving measures have been implemented, which have offset 71% of the annual drop in revenue, which has allowed the company to continue “being sustainable” even in a very difficult year.
Vocento’s results obtained in 2020 were affected by the impact of Covid. In this context, comparable EBITDA was estimated at 34.4 million euros, which represented a decrease of 30.7% compared to 2019, and total operating income decreased by 13.5%, mainly due to the effect the temporary closure of distribution points for the sale of copies due to confinement, the 16.4% drop in advertising sales revenue (although with a better performance than the market, which fell 22.5%) and the cancellation of events due to the restrictions established by the pandemic.
Despite a difficult 2020 where the company has suspended dividends and has adopted cash protection measures, Vocento closed the year with a generation of ordinary cash of 12.9 million euros and a bank debt and stable notes compared to 2019 Furthermore, Ybarra added, the group has developed initiatives that “allow us to face the future in a better position.”
In this sense, Luis Enríquez has emphasized the group’s business opportunities and the strategy to follow. Regarding digital newspaper subscribers, which reached 75,000 in December 2020 between ON +, Kiosko y Más and ABC Premium, the CEO of Vocento explained that “more than 40% are annual”, and underlined the ” fidelity ”of the same since, after the price increase in ON +, 18% were added to the annual subscription. The goal for the end of 2021, Enríquez has advanced, is not only “to reach 100,000 subscribers” but also to ensure that “the money that comes from digital subscriptions maintains the margin that we will lose from fixed newspapers.”
In relation to advertising alternatives, Enríquez has focused on the potential of digital, being programmatic one of the group’s great bets, since it allows the advertiser to “know the profile of the users”, and has stressed that Vocento wants go further looking for new ways to obtain leads, «seek direct contact with the user and let him or her contact the good or service advertised by the customer».
The digital and editorial transformation of the group’s supplements and their evolution towards the organization of events represents a new source of income for the company. The WomenNOW congress, which held its first edition in 2019, aims to be a “think tank for women”. In 2020, the WomenNOW RESET congress was held, which brought together more than 50 prestigious speakers in person and via streaming and had a great impact with a million views. In 2021, Turium was born, the new Vocento project that brings together leading companies in the quality tourism sector with the common objective of transforming the Spanish model, and Welife, an event related to well-being, health and sustainability.
As for classifieds, the group is committed to a B2B subscription model strategy. Vocento is present in the automotive market with Sumauto, which occupies the second position in the ranking of motor portals, and also in real estate, where piso.com is the third in the ranking of real estate portals in Spain. The goal for 2021 is “not to lose a single customer along the way,” said Enríquez.
The group’s strategy for 2021 also includes strengthening the areas in which the company is present within the gastronomic sector, in order to “become the world’s leading gastronomy operator.” In addition to publishing editorial content and offering consulting services through Mateo & Co, the group organizes congresses and gastronomic events. It is worth highlighting the San Sebastián Gastronomika congress, which reinvented itself with a digital proposal bringing together more than 23,000 people from 108 different countries, thus becoming the first digital gastronomy congress in the world. Likewise, as part of the same strategy, Vocento has reached an agreement with the Universidad Pontificia de Comillas for a unique academic gastronomy project, the objective of which is a training of the highest national and international level, and which would unite university degrees in agricultural engineering and agri-environmental, with business administration and gastronomy.
Another key business of the group is that of Agencies, which represent a way to grow non-advertising income. Through Tango and Pro.Agency, Vocento accesses a diversified portfolio of clients such as Coca-Cola, BMW, Mapfre, Repsol, Unilever or Grupo Damm, among others. In fact, throughout 2020 there has been an improvement in revenue, from 2.9 million in the first quarter to 4.2 million euros at the end of the year.
Vocento has continued working on the sustainable and responsible management of the company. To do this, in terms of equality, the group approved the Equality and Non-Discrimination Policy in 2020 and created the Equality Committee. “The women of the company account for more than 45% of the workforce and, of the total number of permanent hires in 2020, 48% were women,” the president highlighted.
Regarding Vocento’s commitment to the environment, it should be noted that the first Environmental Plan has been materialized with the approval of the Environmental Policy and Relationship with the Environment, and that 70% of the activity of Vocento’s presses have the Certification ISO 14.001.
In terms of Corporate Governance, Ybarra has had an impact on two main objectives. The first, “to support the Board through advisory bodies”, where the Editorial Board and the Strategy Committee were created for this purpose. The second, to achieve “a balanced presence of women and men on the Board of Directors.” In this sense, the proportion of women on the Board in 2020 has increased by 7.3% vs 2019, reaching 27.3%. This percentage increases to 75% if we refer to independent directors.
The president of Vocento has advanced in this General Shareholders’ Meeting that the company’s ethical channel, until now limited to employees, will be made accessible to all the group’s stakeholders throughout 2021.
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