The crisis strongly hit the Group, with a differentiated impact on our businesses according to the end-markets. Recovery in each market is expected to occur at different times. In the midst of the crisis, Solvay confirmed and continued to move forward with its G.R.O.W. strategy. In 2020, the three business segments adapted to the new situation, by either slowing activity or taking advantage of new market opportunities.
Tactically adapting to the environment
2020 EBITDA margin
Quickly adapting to mitigate the impact of the crisis in our key markets
In the aerospace market we faced a severe drop in demand with no recovery expected in the short term. We adapted to the new normal by accelerating our mitigation plan, drastically reducing costs and closing two facilities (in the UK and the US) in our composite materials business.
Taking advantage of our solid assets and investing to prepare for the rebound
We continued to bond with our strategic customers and invest in our unique Thermoplastic Composite technologies, innovative materials that meet the industry’s crucial needs regarding lightweighting and faster cycle time. In the Automotive market, despite the sharp decrease in sales, polymers continue to replace metal and this will position us well when growth resumes. In addition, the strong demand for Li-on batteries confirms the potential of our Battery Materials platform. Finally, with our Green Hydrogen platform we are providing additional solutions to help the transportation industry enable clean mobility.
Bonding with Boeing and Lockeed Martin
Solvay has long-standing agreements with both Boeing and Lockeed Martin, which were renewed in 2020. Our contract with Boeing covers composites and adhesives across all its commercial and defense aircraft programs. Our technologies are critical to Boeing’s strategic program to advance innovation in aircraft design and manufacturing. We are Lockeed Martin’s principal supplier of high-performance materials (with more than 50 products) for their F-35 military aircraft, the U.S. Department of Defense’s flagship program.
Seizing new business opportunities
Solvay is in a good position serving markets such as space, electronics, healthcare, and hydrogen and the clean energy economy, where the need for specialty polymers and composite products continues to grow.
2020 EBITDA margin
Our strong market positions and a disciplined management of our costs, including some mitigation actions, allowed us to preserve our EBITDA margin. Aside from our resilient Soda Ash & Derivatives and Peroxides businesses, our Silica and Coatis activities recovered strongly in the second half, thanks to innovation, such as our innovative Augeo® biodegradable and renewable material.
Fighting Covid-19 with Amni® Virus-Bac Off innovation
Solvay has developed a new polyamide fiber which “deactivates” viruses such as Covid-19 and eliminates bacteria. The permanent anti-bacterial additive used in the composition of the fiber prevents the transmission of bacteria and therefore reduces the risk of contamination. This fiber could be used for car or airplane seats, or any application where people could be in contact with textiles that cannot be washed or disinfected daily.
2020 EBITDA margin
We are moving forward to optimize our businesses that operate in diverse niche markets to drive better returns and unlock value. We took action on our cost structure and aligned it to the new reality of the market.
Investing selectively to drive innovation
We are realigning Capex and continuing to introduce innovations in markets where we have strengths, such as healthcare, home and personal care, coatings, agro and electronics.
Strengthening our portfolio of seed boosting solutions
Solvay reached an agreement to purchase a seed coating technology to add to its existing agro products within the Novecare business. This is a natural extension to Solvay’s own AgRHO® family of sustainable seed boosting solutions and supports the drive toward more bio-based, sustainable technologies.
Our Solvay One operating model is a completely new way of working that will unleash the full potential of the Group. The crisis motivated us to accelerate strategic cost reduction programs, resulting in a company wide focus on cash generation that helped us navigate the crisis effectively. It prompted a renewed focus on customers, in particular on key accounts, and we adapted to meet their needs. We also moved forward with the simplification of our portfolio and the transformation of the organization.