The two domineering trends that shaped the year under review were, on the one hand, continued lower consumer spending in the countries in which our group operates with its retail formats and, on the other hand, the upgrading of various formats, the creation of the transformation strategy and the start of the rollout of the omnichannel strategy.
Total group revenue in 2014 fell by approximately 1% from 2013 (adjusted for the business of Casa and Tuincentrum Overvecht, which were deconsolidated in 2014). The report of the Board of Directors sheds light on revenue and profit trends in the Household, Toys and Living sectors. After restructuring expenses and profit from associates, the consolidated net group result for 2014 was EUR -20 million (2013: EUR 61 million).
The Supervisory Board is presenting for adoption the financial statements for the financial year 2014 prepared by the Board of Directors. These financial statements have been audited by BDO Audit & Assurance B.V.; their audit statement is included on the page ‘Independent auditor’s report‘ (there is a link to this page on the left). We adopted the financial statements based on this report, their statement and other data and we recommend these financial statements to be approved.
COMPOSITION OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND SUPERVISORY BOARD
As noted in the previous annual report, Ms M.J. Poots-Bijl was appointed to the Supervisory Board effective 1 March 2014 on the nomination of the Central Works Council. She also serves as the chair of the Audit Committee. As previously reported, Mr A. Blokker retired from the Board of Directors on 1 April, joining the Supervisory Board as of that same date. Mr A.H.M. van der Horst, who retired from the Board of Directors on 1 June, had been with the group since 1988. He was initially employed by Blokker B.V. and eventually joined the Board of Directors as a member and CFO in 2009. We are extremely grateful to Mr Van der Horst for his excellent work at Blokker Holding over the years. Mr J.W. Visser was appointed as a member of the Board of Directors and CFO effective 1 November 2014. In the General Meeting of Shareholders of 11 June 2014, Mr H.T.E.M. Rottinghuis and A.J.L. Slippens retired by rotation and were subsequently reappointed by the Meeting.
CENTRAL WORKS COUNCIL
Members of the Supervisory Board attend consultation meetings with the Central Works Council. Items on the agenda for the consultation meeting with the Council in July 2014 included the financial statements for the 2013/2014 financial year, the updated group strategy and developments related to the Collective Agreement (CAO). This meeting was attended by Ms Poots-Bijl. The Supervisory Board is committed to promoting open and constructive meetings with the employee representatives.
SUPERVISION AND GOVERNANCE
Current developments were discussed with the Board of Directors during the year under review, in accordance with a fixed schedule of meetings. The Supervisory Board and the Board of Directors convened on six occasions in the year under review, while the Supervisory Board members also consulted several times outside these meetings.
Delegations from the Council also held regular meetings with the Chairman and members of the Board of Directors during the year under review. The various committees that form part of the Board also convened on several occasions during the year under review, while the Audit Committee met twice during this period. A meeting was held with the CFO and the external auditor to discuss the summary of the audit findings, the financial statements and the audit report.
In the year under review, the Chairman of the Audit Committee also consulted with the external auditor in the absence of the members of the Board of Directors. The Nomination Committee was involved, among other things, in the search and selection of a new CFO.
Pursuant to the Management and Supervision Act (Wet bestuur en toezicht), the group currently does not maintain a balanced distribution of male and female management and supervisory positions. Our organisation has always maintained that the main consideration in making appointments is the quality of the candidates and their suitability for the roles in question.
Topics discussed at length on various occasions in the meetings with the Board of Directors included the group strategy, the development of pilot stores and the significant increase in the online business of the retail formats and e-fulfilment activities based on the omnichannel strategy. Several on-site meetings were held at the various operating companies, including a presentation by the General Manager of the format in question.
Other items discussed in the meetings with the Board of Directors were the demerger and deconsolidation of the business activities of Casa, the establishment of Nextail (the Shared Service Center for online, operational developments within the group) the efficiently executed automation of the internal reporting systems, the operational budget, the investment budget, disposal and the revenues and profits of the various formats and the group as a whole. In our meetings with the Board of Directors, we also periodically discussed issues relating to human resources, including social policies, the necessary reorganisation of the Blokker Nederland retail organisation, management development and the results of the Employee Engagement Survey.
The Board discussed the annual report and financial statements in a meeting with the Board of Directors, in the presence of the external auditor. In addition, the Supervisory Board and Board of Directors also discussed and assessed the performance of, and collaboration between, the two boards and the other stakeholders. The Supervisory Board assessed its own performance in spring 2015.
Tuincentrum Overvecht was sold during the year under review. The decision was made during the year under review to form new provisions for the closure of loss-making stores for various formats.
The year 2014 was a disappointing year for Blokker Holding overall on account of the weaker revenues and lower profits. The Board endorses the transformation strategy and is confident that the Board of Directors is implementing the appropriate measures to improve the group’s performance in the coming years. The Supervisory Board would like to express its thanks to the Board of Directors, management and employees for their commitment and hard work during the year under review.
Amsterdam, 13 May 2015
P.C. Klaver, Chairman
H. Th.E.M. Rottinghuis