Chairman's letter

The prime focus for Mercuri Urval has always been to build our clients' success through people

During our long history in business – 2019 was our 52nd year – Mercuri Urval has pursued a strategy for business sustainability securing that we will be there for clients long-term. Since 2016, Mercuri Urval´s main owner is "Stiftelsen Mercuri Urval". This is a foundation with statutes in place to safeguard the company´s sustainability, business ethics and social responsibility. In addition to the foundation, employees from 14 countries are also equity partners and shareholders in the company.

The prime focus for Mercuri Urval has always been to build our clients success through people, and as a result maintain company strength. Our client offerings and our experts must be the most effective that are available on the market. We also need a way of operating that makes us robust even in the most challenging of circumstances. In 2019 many steps were taken to strengthen our long-term performance for clients and employees:

  • Our updated Executive Search solution and our development of tools and methods for matching executives to organisations’ needs, continued to be highly appreciated by clients. This led to continued growth in our Leadership Acquisition business, which has continued to grow and now constitutes almost half of our total business. Together with the great service levels our teams provide, we sustained very high client satisfaction rating - over 90%.
  • We continued to develop our capacity to serve our clients wherever they need us. Our experts worked in 60 countries all over the world during 2019 and one in five of our assignments in 2019 handled client needs in multiple countries.
  • Our delivery of individual assessment services follows the global ISO 10667 standard. The DNV-GL audit in Autumn 2019 reported full compliance for the second year in the row – no non-conformities. We are still the only international Executive Search firm with global reach that has been certified for this standard. Our Global Person Data Policy is aligned with GDPR. Both our activities in Europe and outside Europe follow our GDPR-compliant Person Data Policy. To further strengthen our approach, 2019 witnessed the launch of our new internal audit team, safe-guarding compliance, one team at the time.
  • We launched an ambitious programme to redevelop our online learning universe and introduce a certification programme for all new colleagues. The combined effect of this programme is to ensure the highest and most comm standards our industry
  • Due to a sharpened demand profile for consultant hiring the number of consultants hired in 2019 was lower than previous years leading to the number of fee earners decreasing during 2019. However, our experienced team continued to develop with significant growth in average client platforms, earning and 6 new colleagues were welcomed to ur Partnership
  • We intensified our digitalisation initiatives. Externally by developing client- and candidate communication with digital means and new tools to be used in our client offerings. Internally we took further steps towards effective Knowledge Sharing and a Digital Workplace for colleagues enhancing collaboration in client projects, strengthening our head office expertise and IT infrastructure to latest industry standards.
  • The EBITDA 2019 of 5% was lower than 2018. This decrease of profitability is directly related to lacking flexibility of footprint related costs. This indicates clearly that the effectiveness of our footprint must increase through improved agility of our operation and modernisation of our way of working with clients and internally.
  • To further strengthen our leadership and accelerate strategy execution in Mercuri Urval, a CEO has been appointed. The Company Board has appointed Board Director, Richard Moore as CEO effective 9th March 2020.

“Richard has since 2001 had a long successful career with us and has during that time made many significant undertakings in several important roles in the company. He has since 2014 been part of the Group Management and during later years also been part of the Board’s Executive Committee. I have personally worked close together with Richard for many years and know that he with his track record and his deep knowledge about the company together with his personal qualities will be an extraordinary CEO for Mercuri Urval to continue the development of the strength and growth of the company. I will remain as Chairman of the Board and continue my high engagement within the company but have passed on my executive responsibilities to Richard Moore. I very much look forward to continuing our close cooperation in this endeavor.” Roger Hagafors, Chairman of the Board

The start of 2020 was stronger than 2019, with a healthy increase in new client assignments but the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic for the global business and for our clients were soon evident. We then planned for a rapid decrease of income starting in March and continuing at least throughout Q2 and Q3 with a possible rebound starting Q4. Based on this scenario several substantial cost reductions were prepared and executed. These reductions meant an acceleration of changes in footprint, increasing focus on our main offices and moving in to a more modern and flexible office set-up with satellite offices in other locations. The number of consultants has also been reduced, without diminishing our strength in client care, assignment delivery or global reach in the premium segment. The increased focus on the premium business has continued to grow and now represents a major part of Mercuri Urval´s revenue.

2020 will still be a very challenging year but Mercuri Urval’s fast and effective response to the business effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it possible for the company to come through this crisis as stronger and more agile than before.

2020 will still be a very challenging year but Mercuri Urval´s fast and effective response to the business effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it possible for the company to come through this crisis as stronger and more agile than before.

I am convinced that the new Leadership Team will successfully take on the task to lead Mercuri Urval into the future executing our strategy for strength and sustainability making us the preferred, most modern and capable, Leadership Acquisition and Advisory firm for clients long-term.