Last year many companies found themselves suddenly working as part of the Covid-19 relief effort, given their specialties in certain areas.
One example is Borregaard, the Norwegian chemicals company. Two smaller parts of its business – bioethanol and sodium hypochlorite – are used in disinfectant products, particularly ethanol, which is used in hand and equipment sanitizer.
In a best-practice interview, conducted in the run-up to the IR Magazine Awards – Europe 2020, director of IR Jørn Syvertsen discusses how the company communicated its role in fighting the pandemic.
‘We were classified by the Norwegian authorities, in these sectors, as a manufacturing industry of vital importance in the context of the pandemic,’ he explains. ‘And our view on communication has been – and still is – that we play a low-key [role] on that side of it, so we haven’t really gone out massively and talked about that.
‘The guiding principle for us was to use the same criteria we normally do when we communicate with investors and analysts – that is, we talk about the relevance for the business, the effect on profitability, sales, changing markets, switching from fuel to disinfectants, and so on.
‘But we did not engage in a lot of communication [saying], Look how important we are! Because, to be honest, there are many organizations that are more crucial in fighting the pandemic. We played our part, but we focused on the business side and the actual deliveries and doing the job, rather than on the communication.’
In the video, Syvertsen also discusses the broader impact of Covid-19 on Borregaard. ‘We did see some quite significant impacts on our business,’ he says. ‘The most prominent is that we had to close down our biggest manufacturing operation outside Norway, a joint venture in South Africa.
‘But I would say the total picture for us is not that bad because we have a strategy of specialization, we are very diversified and we have always tried to be flexible in our manufacturing and marketing, which means we can respond – at least that’s our strategy – to changes in the environment. I would say we are still standing quite well on our feet, but of course we have felt some quite strong effects as well.’
This video originally appeared in the winter 2020 issue of IR Magazine. To see Syvertsen discussing his company’s role in responding to Covid-19, jump to 2.54 in the video.