For technical service provision in general and for Unica in particular, expectations remain positive. Although Unica is already one of the largest technical service providers in the Netherlands, on the fragmented Dutch market, the top 10 players together still only represent a 25% market share. Seen in that light, there is still plenty of space for further growth.
With its knowledge and specific services, Unica operates at the very core of the energy transition, the pace of which is set to accelerate rapidly. The affordability of sustainable solutions is constantly improving under the influence of market volatility, legislation and regulations, and geopolitical developments. As a consequence, the move away from traditional fossil solutions is becoming increasingly attractive. The climate ambitions of numerous organisations, the huge sustainability challenges facing us all and the technical solutions that will help meet those challenges can all be realised with the support and commitment of Unica.
The changing function of office space and the resultant building adaptions are causing the focus to shift ever further towards transformation projects and away from new construction. In projects of this kind, in-depth knowledge of technical system adaption is clearly essential. Smart building solutions aimed at making buildings more sustainable, more comfortable, safer and more (cost) efficient are set to play a decisive role in building transformations. The fundamental ICT knowledge of so many domains available within Unica ensures a solid position to assist clients in implementing the transformation process.
Given the positive prospects, Unica expects to achieve annual growth of between 10% and 20%. Further increasing the healthy rate of return will remain a key element of the growth strategy for the coming years. The autonomous growth Unica expects to achieve will be supplemented with targeted acquisitions aimed at further broadening the company’s specialist knowledge to reinforce its regional presence. Since 2017, Unica has incorporated twelve acquisitions in its network of companies. This buy & build strategy, implemented by Unica for many years, ensures a manageable increase in the pace of growth that is expected to continue over the coming years. Once again in 2022, Unica expects to further strengthen its network of companies through acquisitions. The effects of COVID-19 on the operating results are expected to be limited, although we must remain alert to fluctuations on the market in a late-cyclic sector like engineering.
Although improving the rate of return is the focus of Unica’s growth strategy, revenue growth is always essential to fully benefit from economies of scale. The war in Ukraine that started in early 2022 has deeply and personally affected the directors and employees of Unica. Unica has no activities in Ukraine or Russia. As a consequence, given the situation at the moment of writing, the war in Ukraine is not expected to have any direct operational or financial consequences on the operating results. It goes without saying that our concerns and sympathies are above all extended to the people of Ukraine, as they suffer the immense consequences of this war on a daily basis.
Unica is able to broaden and extend its range of services through acquisitions, so as to add even further value to its clients. The technical knowledge offered by Unica is very wide-ranging in a world in which traditional systems engineering necessarily goes hand in hand with high-tech ICT solutions. In many cases, the group’s independently operating companies at present still offer their services autonomously, but the strength of Unica is gradually shifting towards integrated solutions, within which customers benefit from combined services delivered by multiple disciplines. With its network of companies, each leaders in their own specialisation, Unica is uniquely positioned to serve as a partner for its customers in delivering innovative and sustainable transformation processes.
Over the coming years, the strategy spearhead of Unica will be to make maximum use of this operational and commercial potential. The carefully considered deployment of the company knowledge of ICT and smart building applications will result in new combined propositions that will herald the next phase of added value from Unica for its customer base. The variety of services on offer also make Unica a more attractive employer. Backed up by alternative recruitment methods such as lateral transfer, education programmes, high-tech support and cooperation with chain partners and other sector players, Unica expects to be able to occupy a multifaceted and increasingly attractive position on the labour market in the years to come.
In the autumn of 2021, an investigation was conducted into a possible re-evaluation of the strategy by the international firm of consultants Roland Berger. The results of this study further underlined the growth potential and multidisciplinary strength of Unica. A careful market analysis and in-depth interviews in specific working groups have been further elaborated, and the recommendations are due to be implemented in 2022. Alongside the existing strategic spearheads of innovation and digitalisation, the image of the company as an excellent employer and expansion of the network of companies through acquisitions, strengthening the foundations for sustainable business practice has been identified as a clear point for attention. Unica accepts its responsibility and will continue to develop new initiatives, with its own employees, chain partners and customers, in order to continue adding value in the long term.
Despite this greater focus on the potential of service integration, private entrepreneurship remains a key success factor at Unica. The entrepreneurial freedom of the more than 35 companies that now make up the network gives them the capacity they need to be successful in the region or business domain in which they operate. Solving the technical and social challenges facing our sector nonetheless demands cooperation between sector players, chain partners, colleagues and clients. To make a real difference in the face of complex challenges like the energy transition, consultation is essential, across the board. To promote cooperation, within its own organisation, Unica continues to focus on cooperation between the network companies, for example by developing integrated propositions, commercial programmes and encouraging knowledge sharing between the business clusters.
Occurrences since the balance sheet date
The war in Ukraine that started in early 2022 has deeply and personally affected the directors and employees of Unica. It goes without saying that our concerns and sympathies are above all extended to the people of Ukraine, as they suffer the immense consequences of this war, on a daily basis.
The expected operational and financial effects of the war in Ukraine on the operating results of Unica are limited. Unica has neither customers nor partners in Ukraine or Russia. As a consequence, we have no direct procurement, delivery or invoicing relations with parties in the countries under such pressure. Because Unica is only active in the Netherlands and operates in euros, there are also no currency risks.
One consequence of the war in Ukraine is that Unica is faced with new price rises and further restrictions on the availability of materials. For the time being, the impact on our projects is limited. For the financial year 2022, Unica has accounted for the fact that price rises could have a slight impact on the revenue and/or results of the Unica Groep.
The extensive customer portfolio served by Unica may well include certain business relations heavily dependent on deliveries from or to Ukraine and Russia. For any customers identified as falling into that category, strict credit controls have been introduced. For new orders, tighter conditions of delivery and contracts will be negotiated.
Although the impact of the geopolitical situation gives reason for further alertness, it can in general be concluded that Unica’s capacity for crisis resilience is considerable. The diversity of specialisations within the Unica organisation helps spread any potential effects. The stable customer portfolio, with a focus on recurring business and sectors less susceptible to market fluctuations, will also help limit the impact of circumstances beyond the control of Unica.
Despite this greater focus on the potential of service integration, private entrepreneurship remains a key success factor at Unica. The entrepreneurial freedom to the more than 35 companies that now make up the network gives them the capacity they need to be successful in the region or business domain in which they operate. Solving the technical and social challenges facing our sector nonetheless demands cooperation between sector players, chain partners, colleagues and clients. To make a real difference in the face of complex challenges like the energy transition, consultation is essential, across the board. To promote cooperation within its own organisation, Unica continues to focus on cooperation between the network companies, for example by developing integrated propositions, commercial programmes and encouraging knowledge sharing between the business clusters.
The commitment demonstrated by the more than 3,500 employees in yet another complex year predominated by COVID-19 is key to our success. The same of course applies to the confidence shown in us, by our clients. Our group of companies is in a solid position to further expand its range of services, and deliver even more added value over the coming years. The Board of Directors looks forward to continuing its pleasant and constructive working relationship with the Supervisory Board, the management and the Works Council, and all other stakeholders, in order to further extend the success of our group of companies in the years to come.
Hoevelaken, 31 March 2022
John Quist, CEO
Ron van Laar, CFO