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The strategic course laid out by Unica over the past few years has helped underpin the group’s crisis resilience. As a consequence, the group of companies is less susceptible to the economic developments that so disrupted the market and society in 2022.

The calendar year started with the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, but from March 2022 onwards those restrictions were scaled down to the level of advisory recommendations only. Fortunately, since that time the situation has remained unchanged. Throughout the two COVID-19 years, Unica complied with the guidelines from the RIVM, where necessary adapting day-to-day operations to the prevailing circumstances. The impact of the measures on service provision was extremely limited again in 2022.

February 2022 marked the start of the war in Ukraine, an escalation that deeply moved the employees of Unica. The people of Ukraine, who every day must face up to the immense consequences of this war, deserve our concern and our sympathy. The effects of the war in Ukraine on the operating results of Unica have remained limited. Unica has no clients or partners in Ukraine or Russia, is primarily active in the Netherlands, and operates in euros. As a consequence, the company is not subject to currency risks. Moreover, none of the parties in Unica’s extensive customer portfolio have experienced problems due to a major dependency on Ukraine or Russia.

Nevertheless, the war in Ukraine has resulted in further price rises and material shortages. These effects, that were already tangible as a result of the disruption of global supply chains caused by COVID-19, were further exacerbated by the political unrest, which drove prices higher and increased the material shortages. During the first six months of 2022, Unica was faced with longer delivery times and higher purchase prices. Although the standard is still higher than would normally be the case, the delivery forecasts have gradually improved and stabilised during the course of 2022.

The exponential rise in energy prices had an impact on the funds available to almost every organisation. Although sustainability offers clear opportunities for Unica, the group’s clients have been overwhelmed by the huge price rises and the resultant budgetary problems. More than ever, the group’s clients are convinced of the need to implement sustainability measures, but the timing has been delayed due to the reduced financing possibilities. With its broad range of services, Unica is excellently positioned to support its clients in their efforts over the coming years.

The nitrogen crisis, with its impact among others on building projects, has only affected Unica to a very limited extent. The proportion of new build projects in the Unica portfolio has shrunk considerably over the past ten years, as a result of which the licensing problems for new build projects has to date had little effect on the intake for new projects. Over the coming years, too, Unica forecasts further improvement in the results from its projects.

Following the economic recovery in 2021, the further growth the Dutch economy was expected to show in 2022 has only materialised to a limited extent. As a consequence of macro-economic developments, growth was restricted to the first and second quarters, while the second six months of 2022 in fact saw a shrinkage (source: Statistics Netherlands, CBS). The labour market also remained historically tight, with unemployment at an all-time low in the spring of 2022. Unemployment did rise slightly during the course of the year, but not yet to a level at which supply and demand are balanced. In December 2022, the unemployment rate reached 3.5% (source: Statistics Netherlands, CBS).

With regard to the challenges facing society such as the energy transition, population ageing, security and the redistribution of office functions, the growth perspectives for the technical service sector remain favourable. For Dutch business and industry in general and for the technical sector in particular, the tight labour market remains one of the greatest challenges. Price rises have also had some effect on the cost price for Unica and its suppliers. During the course of the year, as necessary, constructive agreements were reached with clients, with a view to limiting price rises without negatively influencing Unica’s own margins. For 2023, prices have been indexed to a market-conforming level.