Dear Madam, Dear Sir, Dear Shareholder,
The global automotive market recorded a 5% decline in 2019. The US-China trade war particularly affected the market in China which posted a decrease of almost 8% in automotive production, for the second year in its history. In Europe, we saw something of a wait-and-see attitude from consumers (diversity of engine offerings, uncertain changes in CO2 standards, still limited production of electric vehicles) which depressed business.
In this context, although Le Bélier saw a slowdown in business, our performance remained solid thanks to a cost-cutting plan that began in the first half year, and the Group ended the year with cash exceeding debt.
Le Bélier has once again proven its ability to adapt rapidly.
2019 was also a year of significant discussions on the Group’s future, with a constant need for change in a context of globalisation. The results of these discussions have led Le Bélier today to forge closer ties with the Chinese Group, Wencan, which will ensure industrial and geographic complementarity, whilst preserving the spirit and family values shared by both groups.
Chairman of the Board of Directors
In a global automotive market that declined in 2019, the Group remained on track, resolutely looking towards the future. As expected, the cost cutting plan implemented during the first half year showed positive results from the second half year.
With the financial solidity that characterises the Group and good operational management, we were not only able to adjust to a difficult market, but at the same time to launch no less than 55 new products during the financial year.
At the same time, the new business recorded during the period, representing €340 million in orders, testifies to the automotive market’s needs over the medium term.
In the short term, the first half year of 2020 is expected to see a sharp decline compared to 2019 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global automotive production market. Cost reductions have been implemented to limit the impact of the declining market on our activity and health measures have been taken to protect our employees and allow the teams present on the sites to work and ensure business continuity.
Although some of the 85 new products launches planned for this year may be delayed, their number and the outlook related to lighter vehicles and their electrification allows us to remain confident in the Group's medium-term development.
Chief Executive Officer