CEO TOMMI KAJASOJA COMMENTS ON THE INTERIM REVIEW Q1 2021
“The first quarter, as always, was a slow period for our businesses. I am reasonably satisfied with our performance given the additional challenges we faced this year from the continuing coronavirus pandemic market conditions and the harsher than usual winter conditions. With the winter passing in late March, we saw some good development in services demand levels and are preparing for an active high season in the second quarter despite the continuing coronavirus pandemic related challenges. We were able to operate relatively efficiently through a tough period, although some room for improvements remains. We also imposed temporary layoffs to manage the situation with low demand during the winter period.
In the first quarter, we completed two key efforts, with partially overlapping purposes, when we sold the remaining Demolition Services business in Finland and restructured our capital structure. As a result, we are now aligned to execute our strategy of becoming a focused and leading environmental services provider in the Nordic countries, with a lower exposure to project business and a considerably stronger balance sheet. I am very pleased with the cooperation of different stakeholders on this important matter, forming a sustainable foundation for Delete’s future.
In the first quarter, net sales of Cleaning Services declined by 10% due to a lower level of daily assignments activity than in the previous year. The decline was mainly due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic, but also the harsh winter. Responding to the lower demand, we managed to plan and execute resourcing on a satisfactory level.
Recycling Services’ net sales grew by 1% in the first quarter despite the continuing supressed market, driven by new customers and expansion of offering in waste trading. The performance remained at a good level in Recycling Services and resulted in EBIT margin improving to 6% (1%). This was enabled by production improvements implemented last year. Our recycling plants are currently in good operational shape and production processes are functioning well, setting a good foundation for continued enhanced performance in 2021.
We will continue to enforce tight cost and cash flow controls and prepare ourselves for quick manoeuvring with health & safety as well as efficiency aspects in mind, should pandemic related issues interfere with the planned 2021 first half assignments. We will continue to follow the health & safety precautions every day, protecting not only our employees but also our customers and partners with whom we are in contact. Throughout the pandemic, we have sustained a fully operational team with the ability to execute all tasks as usual.
What makes me especially excited is our continuous efforts for work safety, environment and sustainability, which continue to pay off. We have just recently excelled in a broad HSEQ audit executed jointly by several of our large customers, achieving high ratings. This proves we are on the right track when creating more functional and cleaner society.”