The President’s Assessment
In an unprecedented global emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit us all in 2020 and which remains active in 2021, the first mention has to be the emotional memory of all those colleagues, family and friends who have died since the crisis began.
Although it is true that nothing had prepared us to face a situation of unprecedented impact, the capacity to react and adapt demonstrated in many fields of society is unprecedented as well. This is also the case in Saba, a company over 50 years old, that set objectives from the beginning to preserve the health of all its employees and to prevent the spread of the virus, as well as to ensure the functioning of its service and the continuity of its business.
A 24-hour, 365-day service, such as that provided by Saba, and which is considered by the authorities to be an essential activity, determines the way forward for the whole organisation, entailing continual updating of the plan for business continuity, and also the way of acting, with social responsibility. As such, we made our car park network available to hospitals and health-care facilities in all the countries where we operate and, more recently, facilities have been offered for vaccination campaigns.
It is precisely mass global vaccination that will enable us in the medium and long term to return to normality at all levels, together with the easing of restrictive measures both in the field of mobility and in the field of economic activity. We can finally get a glimpse a future in which Saba is closely watching for recovery funds promoted by the European Union for post-COVID-19 economic and social reconstruction aid. Work is being carried out on strategic projects with a special focus on electric charging, urban micro-distribution (last mile), mobility platform design and digitisation.
Saba provides a service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, which is considered by the authorities to be an outstanding essential service
Saba has finalised development operations, including new projects and renovations, in most of the countries where it operates
On 2020, I would like to stress that, despite the health crisis, development operations were conducted, including new projects and renovations, in most countries where we operate. One of the major transactions was the acquisition of the “Gran Bulevar” car park in Oviedo, Spain, the first to be managed by the company in the province of Asturias. There was also the purchase of 100% of the shares of Clickpark Holdings, one of the most important technology operators in the parking sector, present in 54 locations in the Czech Republic and 8 more in Slovakia. Saba is now a Group that manages nearly 390,000 parking spaces in over 1,100 car parks, with a staff of 2,000 people, and it is present in 182 cities in 9 countries.
Although Saba’s main figures were clearly greatly affected by the pandemic in 2020, recording a net loss, the company maintained a positive EBITDA of 72 million euros and redoubled its efforts to increase the operational efficiency of the business and to implement initiatives to position itself as a benchmark in the sector, with particular focus on new support systems, new technologies (website and app) and energy efficiency, in addition to new commercial formulas and initiatives, while maintaining control over costs. Similarly, the company is active in the process of requesting rebalancing of its concessions to correct for the impact of COVID-19, bearing in mind that Saba continued to provide services throughout the pandemic, being considered essential, despite drastic restrictions in circulation.
In closing agreements, we continue to insist on commercial initiatives in the field of new mobility uses and habits (sharing, electric vehicles, among others).
Saba sees the car park as a hub for mobility services, which responds to problems such as those generated by last mile distribution
Inthis regard, we at Saba insist on the role of the car park in new urban mobility, on its evolution from the function of parking vehicles and a facility to regulate road congestion to also become an intermodal node in the urban mobility network. We are talking about mobility service hubs, points that take advantage of strategic locations in city centres, their capillarity throughout the city and their uninterrupted service to operate as an agent integrated into the policy and mobility chain for people and, likewise, goods. In short, part of the solution to cities’ current needs, such as last mile distribution and the need to reduce what we call absurd logistics, which today represents 15% failed deliveries, for example, in Madrid and Barcelona.
And Saba has actions in progress in this area from two points of view. Firstly, for sustainable last mile distribution, with a pilot test in Barcelona together with the logistics operator Geever, which has installed warehouses in five car parks in Barcelona, with plans to expand this to nine in the near future. There is also a considerable reduction in vans at peak time, as entry of goods takes place at night time, and their departure uses sustainable and single-person vehicles. After two years of this trial, failed deliveries have been halved. The second axis is collection of e-commerce products from lockers located in Saba’s car parks. Recently added to these services in Italy (InPost), Spain (Pudo) and the United Kingdom (Amazon) is the Amazon lockers service in the car parks in Spain.
In terms of corporate governance, and within the framework of the crime prevention model, Saba drove a review of processes and controls in 2020, adapting the Risk Prevention Manual and promoting training among its employees. Also to be highlighted is the extension of the Code of Ethics to all countries in which the company is present, disseminating and homogenising the principles that underpin the ethical behaviour of the Group.
We continue to carry out our activity within the framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), integrating these principles into the strategy, culture and daily activity of the business. In social action, at a time characterised by the crisis and at which the public calls for responsibility from companies and institutions, we have maintained our commitments to all the projects under way, with special emphasis on those health initiatives to combat COVID-19.
In terms of the environment, for another year we have driven improvements to reduce the impact of our activity on the climate and we have extended ISO 50001 Energy Management certification to Chile, which Spain, Italy and Portugal already held, with the plan of implementing it in the rest of the countries.
Finally, on behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to express our thanks for the work, professionalism and commitment shown by all the company’s groupings in each of the countries, at a difficult time, and which required tenacity, resilience and constant effort. The contest continues and we need to look to the future with hope and encouragement to persist and overcome. I am convinced that we will come out of this stronger as a company, and also as people.