Jorge Martin-Martinez, Vice President, Indochina Finance & Head Country Management, Vietnam, sheds light on how DKSH Group and DKSH Vietnam had weathered the storm to post significant performance in the first half of 2020 despite COVID-19 and the company’s plan to keep business up in the rest of 2020.
1/ How was DKSH Group’s and DKSH Vietnam’s performance in HY2020?
At Group level, in the first six months of 2020, DKSH reported solid results in these unprecedented times. Across markets, DKSH continued to reliably supply products and played a critical role in responding to the pandemic. In sum, our Business Units Healthcare, Performance Materials and Fast Moving Consumer Goods increased profits. Business Unit Technology as well as the Luxury and Lifestyle segment were materially impacted by COVID-19. Group net sales remained around last year's level and EBIT declined slightly. In addition, DKSH successfully closed two acquisitions and expanded its eCommerce business.
In Vietnam, DKSH also performed remarkably well, attaining slightly better levels than in 2019. This is a great achievement and a testament to our robust business model and strongly committed workforce, who have really stepped up in these challenging circumstances. I have seen amazing examples of our staff behaving like true heroes. Being on the front line and taking orders and delivering essential products with full protective equipment on in the middle of total lockdown, working from home with children around and, nevertheless, getting the job done professionally and diligently.
2/ How are you experiencing COVID-19, how are you coping so far?
The first months of 2020 were challenging for us all. Nevertheless, with a great sense of responsibility as a provider of essential products, we immediately implemented our Business Continuity Plans as well as a Total Quarantine Solution in our warehouses and quickly adapted to the exceptional circumstances.
Bringing high-quality products to remote villages, installing technology that raises living standards and providing new formulations for personal care products that make life easier are just a few examples of how DKSH touches and enriches people’s lives around the clock. I am very proud that we managed to keep our service levels at the highest standards and continued filling up the shelves of tens of thousands of stores for the benefit of millions of Vietnamese. This was only possible thanks to the high engagement of our employees in the implementation of Business Continuity Plan actions.
At the same time, this challenging time is an unexpected chance to rethink what can be done better in the future. We are taking this unique opportunity to learn and bring us a few steps further. The crisis has pushed us to find alternative ways to be closer to our suppliers and customers as well as our employees, getting to know them even better. For example, our digital transformation and eCommerce businesses have seen a drastic acceleration during this period.
3/ Despite the challenges, any major achievement for your company in HY2020?
As mentioned earlier, our performance has been remarkable given the circumstances. However, we have to remain vigilant, since only the next few months will show how severe a potential impact may be.
Also, it has been a great honor for DKSH Vietnam to be awarded as “the best company to work for in Asia in 2020” by HR Asia. As a service company, our people are the heart of our business, even more so in this challenging period. This is a testament to the continuous commitment of DKSH to create a working environment that fosters learning, professionalism, well-being and equality for its employees.
Lastly, something particularly close to my heart is the result of an employee survey conducted during the worst times of the pandemic. Carried out through an independent consulting company, the aim was to help us understand our employees’ experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and how we can better support. With a total average mark of 9.1 out of 10 in the survey, our employees have assessed rather positively how DKSH Vietnam has managed the crisis and its challenges thus far. This is something I am personally very proud of.
4/ How does DKSH Vietnam plan to keep business up for the rest of 2020?
The market is gradually changing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, while the strict lockdown measurements freeze many of our traditional trade business. It is now crucial to focus on digital transformation. We have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of business being conducted online, pushed forward by the lockdown measures. On the digital marketing side, for example, we have seen a 15-fold increase in webinars and a three-fold increase in e-campaigns sent out so far this year compared to the same period last year. This is a great step forward for our company – and a necessary one for us to stay relevant.
In any case, we need to stay focused on protecting the health and safety of our employees in times of COVID-19 and continue doing our very best to serve our business partners at the highest service levels possible. This ambition, coupled with the resilience of our business model and the industries we are active in, I truly believe that the financial performance will follow.