A note from Léon Bressler,
President of the Supervisory Board
2020 was a year like no other for Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. The company faced, and is still facing, the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which continues to keep centres closed and severely restrict footfall.
In this context, the URW team showed an impressive level of commitment and resilience, which is a great source of pride. I would also like to pay tribute to all our business partners, especially retailers, with whom we continue to work hand in hand to both face the challenges of today and prepare for the opportunities of tomorrow.
Deleveraging is our number one priority and a strong balance sheet will give us a platform for future growth. The Group will deliver on its deleveraging plans through targeted disposals in Europe, the implementation of a US disposal program in the next two years, the suspension of the dividend and strict investment and cost control.
I am confident that the team led by Jean-Marie Tritant will succeed in this crucial endeavour. The Management Board in now chaired by Jean-Marie and has been expanded to include Chief Financial Officer Fabrice Mouchel, Chief Investment Officer Olivier Bossard and Chief Resources Officer Astrid Panosyan. Together they have the right skills and experience to navigate current conditions and transform our Group to ensure empowered regions are supported by an agile corporate centre.
The Board would like to thank Christophe Cuvillier and Jaap Tonckens who preserved the operational management of the Group in 2020 during an unprecedented global health crisis that led to the temporary closure of almost all of its assets, and who subsequently contributed to a smooth transition before the installation of the new Management Board.
My appointment to URW’s Supervisory Board was one of several changes in 2020. Also nominated were Julie Avrane-Chopard, Cécile Cabanis, Susana Gallardo, Aline Sylla-Walbaum and Xavier Niel. The Supervisory Board is fully committed to supporting the Management Board as it re-establishes a strong financial position and pursues a clear strategy to deliver future success.
I would like to thank departing Supervisory Board members Philippe Collombel, Sophie Stabile, Jacques Stern and Jacqueline Tammenoms-Bakker for their years of service and commitment to the Group as well as thank Jill Granoff who has decided not to seek reappointment due to the Group's reduced focus on the US. Finally, I would like to recognize Colin Dyer who will leave the Board following the 2021 Annual General Meeting after having ensured a smooth transition to guarantee the continuity of the Group's operations.
Going forward, URW has the right team, an unparalleled portfolio of assets and the resources to be successful. Regardless of the challenging environment, the Group’s operational and financial priorities for 2021 will see URW re-emerge as the most attractive European listed retail-focused real estate company, combining strong fundamentals and growth potential.