1.3 Chairwoman’s statement
The DIA Group posted a stellar performance once again in 2015, providing further evidence of the resilience of its business model, articulated around profitability and sustainable growth. Despite having to tackle a considerable number of challenges last year, shaped by the erosion of consumer confidence and attendant weak spending, the company remained firmly committed to innovation, new formats and unbeatable prices. Always with its customers and their needs at the heart of its activities.
Thanks to the excellent work of our more than 46,000 employees and over 3,500 entrepreneurial franchisees worldwide, DIA is today one of the leading players in the international food retailing sector. To all, my sincerest thanks. We have bolstered our teams with professionals from El Árbol, Caprabo and Eroski in the wake of recent acquisitions, adding and learning from their expertise handling fresh produce, meat and fish.
On the customer front, we welcomed more than 3.3 million new members to DIA”s loyalty programme and embarked on a plethora of initiatives, most notably training-related, to enhance the shopping experience. Over 3,000 Spanish employees have already received training under this endeavour with more to follow. This effort is already paying off; most importantly, it has given us new reasons to feel proud of our employees.
As part of our tireless innovation effort, in 2015, the DIA Group launched over 750 new SKUs under the umbrella of its HPC private-label brands for the Clarel stores and more than 100 SKUs under its gourmet private-label brand, Delicious, thereby responding to our customers” demands.
On the corporate governance front, we worked on adapting the organisation to the latest governance recommendations and the amendments introduced to Spanish company law with the aim of further emphasising and making progress on our pledge to manage our business and organisation transparently and ethically. Against this backdrop, we approved a new Group Corporate Social Responsibility Policy, which embodies 12 principles based on how we engage with our stakeholders; we also amended our bylaws and the rules regulating our governing bodies.
One of the company”s priorities is to encourage an ethical and transparent framework for working with our stakeholders. As a result, in 2015, we updated our Ethics Code and opened up the whistle-blowing channel, which had formerly been targeted exclusively at employees, to our suppliers, franchisees and contractors. In keeping with this relationship of trust and mutual respect, the Board also approved a series of corporate policies which can be downloaded from our corporate website; these policies establish the framework for engaging with our stakeholders with a view to injecting transparency into these relations. This policy development effort will continue throughout 2016.
On the human resources management front, we rolled out a talent management system for key positions within the organisation which is designed to better identify the performance-driven value created by our employees.
On the environmental management front, we developed a system for measuring our carbon footprint, thanks to which we were able to fill out the Carbon Disclosure Project”s survey for the first time. The CDP is an independent non-profit organisation with the world”s largest database of corporate information on climate change; it encompasses socially-responsible investors from all over the world. I would like to take this opportunity to formally applaud our teams as this work was rewarded with the Best Newcomer Award Spain 2015, the prize given by the CDP to the newcomer obtaining the highest entry score.
We continue to work on our commitment to managing all of our resources efficiently, in part because this effort also allows us to reduce our environmental footprint. We have invested more than €10 million to make our systems more energy-efficient, equipping most of our stores and warehouses with LED lighting while gradually upgrading to more efficient and modern cooling equipment in our oldest stores. This investment effort resulted in a reduction in electricity consumption per square metre across all our markets of over 6% in 2015.
Last year also marked the DIA Group”s inclusion in the FTSE4Good index which ranks companies on their CSR criteria and practices.
Our commitment to community work remains unwavering. We hit yet another new food donation record, delivering more than 3.9 kilograms to food banks and charitable associations across all of DIA”s operating markets. This marks growth of 44% year-on-year and in Spain alone represents the donation of 9,000 kilograms to the neediest per day.
The company”s support for underprivileged children also deepened with various initiatives, including our long-standing support for the charity race organised by FEDER every year, in which over 800 Madrid-based employees participated and with nearly 100 joining in the first race in Barcelona. The company also sponsored a football competition in Portugal to help children at risk of social exclusion. Of the many community projects undertaken abroad, the purchase of clothing and shoes for poor children by DIA employees in Brazil at Christmas and the donation of school materials by DIA Argentina at the start of the school year stand out.
For all of this and for what is still to come, THANKS. Thanks to our customers, employees, franchisees and suppliers in Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Brazil and China and thanks to our shareholders all over the world. You are what make the DIA Group a company committed to success and to improving the environment and society we live in.
Ana María Llopis