In one of the periods which has been historically and economically the most difficult we have ever faced, we wish to present the Sustainability Report of the El.En. Group and in this way give the public an opportunity to judge our commitment, our objectives and the results that we have obtained in this troubled year which demonstrate the solidity of our technical, financial and operative structures.
The El.En. Group has demonstrated their ability to resist with determination the adverse conditions without sacrificing their potential for future growth and maintain unchanged their plans for development thanks to the solidity of their business model which is aimed at sustainable growth over a mid- to long-term period. In the first part of the year we were impacted by the closure of our Chinese companies and, in particular, those located in Wuhan, while in the second quarter the Italian and European activities were hit by the restrictions imposed in the western world and by their effects on our markets; in the third quarter we returned to a growing volume of business although the trends were not uniform and differed according to the various geographic areas and segments of the market, and then, in the last part of the year we achieved excellent results, in which some of the sectors were drivers and others showed more difficulty and the Group was again able to resume the growth rate and the revenue which had been expected at the beginning of the year. From the start of the spread of the pandemic all of the subsidiary companies adopted procedures which were meant to guarantee the safety of their employees and allow them to go to work confidently, and “smart working” was widely implemented. The emergency situation required that our first priority was the protection of our employees while working; even now the safety procedures are still being applied according to protocols which have been previously agreed upon and are periodically up-dated.
Even during the year of the pandemic we continued to create jobs and in fact the number of people who work for us throughout the world increased by 9%. This number represents an important sign of growth not only at a numerical level but also as a symbol of solidity and safety. During this year we never came to a halt even in the field of training; in fact, we continued to promote the adoption and consolidation of the ethics and values of the Group in all of the subsidiary companies and increased the number of hours of technical and occupational training most of which was conducted on-line, to promote the personal and professional growth of all of the employees.
The basis underlying our strategy remains the constant commitment to the research and development activities which represent the essence of our Group: this commitment is aimed not only at the technical aspects for the launch of new products but also the documentary and clinical factors required for obtaining the certifications necessary for the sale of medical systems all over the world. We have worked constantly on clinical experimentation with medical centers and hospitals as well as on the regulatory structures which involve a complex but necessary procedure for launching our innovative products on the market. The difficult context did not affect our capacity to innovate and increase the attractiveness of our range of products which we continued to amplify, thus confirming the solid competitive position of the Group and its ability to differentiate itself on the market with technical and applicative innovations.
The launching of new products represents one of the strong points of our strategy: in the industrial sector this year we introduced systems with laser cutting powers of up to 30kW while in the medical sector in the second half of the year we launched the new Again system for hair removal, the Schwarzy system which introduced the technology of high intensity magnetic fields for body contouring and q-switch technology was configured at its highest potential for the treatment of pigmented and vascular lesions with the greatest effectiveness.
In some of the companies we continued to invest in the enlargement of their manufacturing sites, most of which has been completed in preceding years: during the pandemic we completed the work at the German subsidiary Asclepion and at the Headquarters of Lasit in Torre Annunziata, continued construction at the manufacturing center located in Calenzano, finished the third Chinese manufacturing unit located in the city of Lin Yi and built the second factory of the Chinese subsidiary in Wenzhou. This work was conducted bearing in mind a high level of energy efficiency and planned with an aim to raise the quality of working life: in fact, we are convinced that working in an environment that is built to size promotes an increased sense of belonging and for this reason we have decided to dedicate ample space to the welfare of the personnel, to complete the training and career factors with an investment which promotes the creation of a work environment that is dynamic and satisfying and stimulates team work.
In the factory of the Parent Company El.En. we have installed systems for the production of prototype and small series electronic boards and for the rapid prototyping of mechanical parts and we have completed the equipping of a new production line of mid-powered sealed sources for manufacturing applications, all of which qualify as facilitations for Industria 4.0. These are only the first of a series of innovations which, in the next few years, will transform our factories: increasingly, the technological mix of robotics, sensors and internet connections will modify the management of the company and of the production models as we now know them and the factory will lose the concept of an immobile physical entity thanks to the sharing of data online, by exploiting the opportunities offered by “big data” and by the “Internet of things”. We want this transformation to be a tangible reality for the El.En. Group that will continue in the next few years in all of the factories..
The interruptions caused by the pandemic have created a situation in which, in order to continue to keep working, we have made use of virtual means of communication, in particular for sales and marketing, for the purpose of keeping in touch with our clients: in a dramatic moment like the one we are now experiencing, in which sales continue to be obstructed by the restrictions in travel, our philosophy has continued to be in contact with the clients, by means of the telephone rather than by innovative instruments like the virtual booth, the webinar and live chat. Among the various types of impact generated by the pandemic on the company models of the Group, there is certainly a strong desire to continue to count on the channels of direct communication which are more useful in building a personal human relationship with all clients including those at a great distance. The pandemic and economic crisis have generated significant changes in our marketing relations and accelerated the process of digital transformation in all of the companies which are now called upon to rethink their models and revise their strategies for the management of their resources.
Our commitment as a company has continued to be expressed through initiatives in favor of the community: we work every day to produce a positive impact on the lives of people and, with several specific projects donate our expertise and our instruments to non-profit organizations, foundations and advanced scientific laboratories working for the health of patients, and for the conservation and restoration of works of art. The companies of the Group are closely connected to the territories in which they work and this year, more than ever, have been committed to sustaining them by participating in initiatives of solidarity for the global health emergency as well as the support of cultural, social and educational initiatives by means of sponsoring, participation and associations while continuing to promote projects for alternating school with apprenticeship and internship opportunities.
We are proud to be able to state that, despite this difficult scenario, the results which we have obtained once again confirm the solidity of our business model which has allowed us to absorb the impact of a lockdown which has lasted for months and to react immediately, remaining focused and implementing all of the measures necessary to take advantage of the recovery. This year, despite the pandemic, has been one of growth and consolidation of our global competitive position and has demonstrated our capacity to pursue our objective of sustainable development, a differential factor of success for which in recent years we have made investments in order to enlarge the logistic structures and main operating functions, in this way combining economic growth and financial stability with the principles of social and environmental sustainability in order to represent a model of excellence.
In conclusion I would like to underline how all of this has been possible also thanks to the confidence in the Group demonstrated by all of the stakeholders which has allowed us to continue to operate with effectiveness and continuity.