Dear Employees and Friends of CITO,
This year, in 2020, for the first time in almost 40 years, there will be no Christmas party at CITO. For me personally, this is a very sad moment; this celebration with our employees, their families and friends of our company has always been the highpoint and a fitting end to the business year. We have not foregone this event that we have grown fond of voluntarily. Not economic constraints that compelled us, but an insidious virus that forced us to make this decision. To protect the health of you all, in 2020, this is the only way left to me to acknowledge the year and appreciate its jubilarians.
You might find it somewhat strange for me to see anything worth appreciating in 2020, but each year has its highs and lows, even such an unpleasant year as 2020. The year actually started very well; the first three months were economically decidedly good for CITO. Yet there were already dark clouds on the horizon, which are considered to be the harbingers of a storm. In January, I met with friends from China for a joint visit in Belgium. Our friends wanted to buy masks there, but all the chemist’s had already sold out. I thought the Asians have become crazy. At that time, I still could not anticipate that my compatriots would buy up all stocks of toilet paper within a few weeks and we would start to make our own protective masks. Then the time arrived: For the first time in my life, I was forced to experience a kind of emergency. All shops were closed, we had to take protective measures for the health of our employees and wherever possible, our employees worked from home. Such massive interventions have, of course, not been without their economic consequences. Some export markets have collapsed completely and our domestic business also did not develop very positively. At CITO we therefore saw ourselves forced, for the first time since I have led the company, to register short-time working. Our government luckily supported us through this measure, nonetheless it entails financial losses for our employees. It is therefore also the obligation of responsible management to handle such a measure responsibly.
At this point, I would like to thank my management team of Thomas Gerner, Oliver Kellermann and René Seick emphatically. Management can, of course, only work successfully if it is backed by a team on which it can rely fully. Our entire workforce proved to be very flexible and was also willing to stay the difficult course with us. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all very sincerely; the true strength of a team becomes clear especially in times of crises.
Despite the difficult situation, we managed to supply our customers punctually and with the familiar high quality. Through our joint efforts and commitment, CITO proved itself a reliable partner, even in times of crisis. It would be great if I could consider the crisis to be over and we could all start 2021 together, free from worry. This is unfortunately not the case, because the unpredictable virus still has us all in its grip. The threat to health has come closer, especially in recent weeks. Therefore, my urgent request to all of you: “Continue to be cautious, protect yourselves and your loved ones.” We unfortunately also had to experience how real the threat is. A long-standing business partner has died from COVID in recent days.
Our company has proven to be stable, and the situation has also started looking up economically for the past several weeks. We naturally cannot expect to achieve the same results as 2019, but we will achieve a positive result even in this year. Since the beginning of November, we have been able to do without short-time working and we hope that this will remain the case.
As is the pleasant custom of ours, I would now like to express my appreciation for the jubilarians of 2020, on behalf of all our employees. Let us begin with the person who has stayed true to us for 25 years.
Even though there is only one employee who is celebrating 25 years with us this year, we have a large number of employees who joined our company in 2010. A year that I, of course, remember particularly well. I acquired my majority shareholding of CITO in the year. So let us acknowledge the 10-year jubilarians in the order in which they joined CITO.
I would like to thank all employees of the CITO GROUP very sincerely for their commitment and their loyalty in 2020, which has not been an easy year.
I wish you a peaceful Christmas holiday and above all a healthy 2021. I believe this wish for a New Year has never been so clear and real as it is now.