Sustainable business operations
We see corporate social responsibility as much more than simply complying with minimum laws and regulations. CSR plays a role in every decision we take and choice we make. This does of course create dilemmas, as we have to make decisions in that area of conflict between financial profit and social profit. The challenge for us is to act according to the principle of corporate social responsibility in a way that is appropriate for Bouwinvest, that responds to the expectations of our stakeholders and creates added social value. Our strategy is focused on reducing the environmental impact of the management organisation, increasing employee satisfaction and engagement, community engagement and sponsoring.
Environmental impact management organisation
The management organisation is working on the reduction of its environmental impact. We have reached agreement with the owner of the Bouwinvest head office in Amsterdam on adjustments to the building’s shell and improvements to the climate installations. The renovation of the building started in 2018. Together with the owner, we are aiming to achieve BREEAM In-Use good certification and energy label A or B. Our goal is to reduce energy consumption from the current 128 kWh/m2 to the Paris Proof norm of 50 kWh/m2.
Our new mobility scheme, in which we stimulate the use of sustainable forms of mobility and which sets a maximum limit on the CO2 emissions of our lease cars, resulted in a 10% reduction in CO2 emissions in 2018.
Last year, our absolute CO2 emissions came in 5% higher at 579 tonnes of CO2. The emission intensity, expressed in tonnes of CO2e/FTE, did fall by 6% to 3.4 tonnes CO2e/FTE/year.
Increasing employee satisfaction and engagement
Our results are heavily dependent on the efforts and commitment of our employees. In addition to the continued growth of the organisation to 200 FTEs in 2021, Bouwinvest’s HR policy focuses on the promotion of a positive working climate and offering employees the room for personal growth and development.
The organisation is looking for respectful, sympathetic employees with integrity who are prepared to share knowledge and information with each other and to work together constructively. But we also want people who are able to embrace change and who see opportunities and challenges. The changes the organisation is going through and the need to be more client-centric in the face of a fiercely competitive environment requires different competencies from our employees. This is why we devoted a great deal of attention to involving employees in the new business strategy.
The central role of the individual also gets a high score in our employee satisfaction surveys. Last year, two departments took part in a pilot to incorporate 360-degree feedback in the evaluation cycle. The pilot did not have the desired result and we are looking at how we can implement 360-degree feedback differently in the organisation.
Bouwinvest attaches a great deal of importance to being a good employer. We have a vitality policy and because of this we invited people to participate in a preventive medical study. To support the sustainable employment of our employees, Bouwinvest offers attractive secondary employment terms and has an appropriate remuneration policy. To enable the company to define success factors more effectively in the future, last year Bouwinvest made preparations for the introduction of a new job classification system with groups of related functions with similar responsibilities.
Community engagement & sponsoring
Last year, Bouwinvest launched the Promotion of Community Service scheme for employees. Each employees is now allowed to devote one working day per year to a good cause via the DeedMob platform. Over the past year, 14 employees made use of this scheme. They organised meals for homeless people and helped elderly people suffering from dementia with their daily activities. Finally, we sponsor various social initiatives, such as Homeplan and the Museum Het Schip in Amsterdam. Bouwinvest employees also opted to give up their Christmas boxes in exchange for a € 12,000 donation to help renovate an old nursing home in South Africa.
Net profit came in at € 3.2 million in 2018 (2017: € 4.7 million). The operating result of € 2.3 million recorded in 2018 was € 2.4 million lower than in 2017. This decline was due to € 6.6 million higher operating expenses, offset by a € 4.2 million increase in the management fee.
Compared with 2017, the management fee increased by € 4.2 million to € 38.5 million (2017: € 34.3 million). The increase in the management fee was driven by the 20% rise in invested capital compared with 2017. Both the international mandates and the Dutch funds saw an increase in invested capital.
Operating costs increased by € 6.6 million (23,7%) to € 36.1 million in 2018, compared with € 29.5 million in 2017. This rise was the result of € 4.0 million higher personnel costs, € 0.1 million lower amortisation costs and higher operating costs of € 2.7 million.
The rise in personnel costs was due to the increase in the number of employees to 169.7 FTEs (2017: 152.5 FTEs), reservations for personnel-related redundancy costs and the extra hiring of personnel. This increase in staff numbers will enable Bouwinvest to increase its managed capital in a controlled manner and to remain state-of-the-art as an organisation. The extra hires were largely deployed to fill open vacancies and for the management of current projects.
The amortisation costs were € 0.1 million lower in 2018, following the accelerated amortisation booked in 2017. The completion of the renovation of the Bouwinvest office building and a number of major IT projects, including the SAP upgrade, will increase amortisation levels in the future.
Other operating costs increased by € 2.7 million in 2018 compared with 2017. Automation costs came in € 0.8 million higher due to IT support and the execution of major projects. On a general note, rising costs and heavy investments resulted in a € 0.7 million higher cost for non-deductible VAT. The VAT audit for the Dutch funds was completed in 2018. Bouwinvest has decided to recognise the related penalty payment of € 0.2 million in its own result. The opening of Bouwinvest’s first foreign office in Sydney, Australia, had a negative impact of € 0.2 million on the result.
Bouwinvest used virtually the entire remaining deferred tax asset on the basis of losses incurred in previous years to reduce the tax rate in 2018. The remainder of this tax asset is no longer deductible and was charged to the result. At year-end 2018, Bouwinvest recognised a tax liability of € 0.9 million for the difference between the fiscal and commercial valuation of its participations.
Bouwinvest’s shareholders’ equity declined by € 0.8 million to € 33.2 million in 2018, due to the payment of dividends and the addition of the net profit. The solvency ratio declined by 8% to 70% in 2018 (2017: 78%) on the back of a decline in shareholders’ equity and an increase in short-term borrowings.
At year-end 2018, Bouwinvest had € 26 million available in its current account with house banker ABN AMRO. This was more than sufficient to meet all of its outstanding obligations and to meet the formal requirements of the Alternative Investment Fund Manager Directive (AIFMD).
Profit distribution and dividend policy
The Board of Directors proposes to pay out a dividend of € 3.0 million for 2018 and to add € 175.000 to the retained earnings.
Bouwinvest Real Estate Investors B.V. has proactively initiated talks with the Dutch tax authorities regarding the allocation of the development loss suffered by Bouwinvest Office Development B.V. They are discussing which part of the loss should be attributed to the Office Fund N.V. for arriving at a settlement agreement with the contractor.