I must begin this report by mentioning my deep
admiration and thanks for the way our colleagues within the RINA Group
responded to the extraordinary challenges presented by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In March 20, we reset budgets with worst-case and best-case scenarios, and, at
the end of the year, we slightly exceeded our best-case scenario, grew by 4%
from 2019 and increased margin returns by 10%. This result is extremely
positive and reflects the strength of our resilience, organisation and
The work and investment we had already
carried out in our IT and digital tools, the differentiation of our services, and
the differentiation of our markets, provided us with the ability to react positively
to the pandemic and to achieve good results. We had systems in place to swiftly
and smoothly move to remote working and the technology and communication
protocols required to conduct remote inspection services. Indeed, we were the
only classification society to be authorised by a flag state to carry out
remote inspections. The way we have developed this capability means conducting
inspections is as reliable as attending a site in person and, with the support
of other digital tools including drones and thermal cameras, etc., we can
inspect to even greater levels of accuracy. I am in no doubt that the future of
inspection will leverage remote capabilities.
In response to the pandemic, we also quickly
released a new Biosafety Trust Certification; a voluntary certification which
recognises organisations that have applied procedures and processes to reduce
the risk of spread of infection.
A digital future
We continue to invest in the digitalisation of processes, which will help improve our efficiency, effectiveness and margins. This is an ongoing process and takes time and investment, but we anticipate an increase in margin of 1% per year until 2023 because of the work we are doing. Initially we thought of digitalisation was a matter of creating tools and products to meet the needs of the market, we now understand this is not our role. Our philosophy is now to use, rather than develop, digital tools to deliver increased service and value to our clients through our competencies and deep understanding of their processes. We will continue to use our advanced digital platform for storing data, RINACube, but will find ways of using this data and developing algorithms to improve and differentiate our services to clients.
ESG is at the heart of RINA
Sustainability relates to people, the planet and profit, one part of which is ESG - one of the pillars of RINA’s development. We are already present in these three areas through our attention to environment, our fight against global warming and our work on energy transition. Our social commitments include our longstanding position as consultants to international financial institutions, including the World Bank and European Central Bank, and continuing efforts in CSR certification. We also work a great deal in anti-bribery and governance certification for many companies and, in Italy, certify more than any other body. Energy transition is becoming a point of investment and, as such, we have dedicated a dedicated business area and manager to develop this business. For many years, we have considered hydrogen to be an important solution in our drive to decarbonisation. Today, we are working on both ‘green’ and ‘blue’ hydrogen initiatives, and have established close cooperation with various companies that are active in these. RINA will be carbon neutral by 2023 and we are already buying renewable energy, abandoning the use of plastic in our offices, and drastically reducing the amount of paper used in the business. But we have not stopped there; we have also started a joint venture to plant trees in city areas. For RINA, ESG is not just a strategy, it is an integral part of our company. It means a deep respect for the environment, respect for people and respect for the way we conduct governance. It is not something we have done because to be “on trend”. We have taken these steps because it is morally correct. Put simply, RINA investing in ESG is good for both the world, community and for our business.
Highlights in a year where many have spoken of resilience, but RINA has shown it
I am immensely proud of the reaction of our colleagues as they continued to work remotely in a responsible manner, without the traditional ‘control’ of the work environment. This has been a philosophical quantum leap for us, switching our focus to output rather than hours worked. We have seen our strategy of having parallel TIC and consulting businesses as being successful. The size of contracts we are being awarded is growing and we are increasingly being recognised as a company that brings value to the market. The successful Genoa San Giorgio bridge project helped, but this reputation for value comes from the competencies we are demonstrating in the projects we are managing across the business. For example, our work in energy transition and our understanding of market developments clearly demonstrate to me that we are following the right strategy. In common with many companies RINA was been subjected to a malicious cyber-attack on our business in November 20. This was carried out by a Ukrainian organisation (the leaders of which have now thankfully been arrested) that infiltrates businesses, cryptolocking files and systems and then holding them to ransom for their release. Many large companies have paid significant sums to retrieve data and unlock their systems. However, RINA’s robust cyber defence protocols stopped the attack and within one hour all our data and systems were online again. Again, I am pleased at the professionalism and speed reaction demonstrated by my colleagues, which ensured business continuity, both for RINA, our clients and other stakeholders.
Looking to the future
Areas where we will continue to invest include cybersecurity and energy transition, specifically in the rapidly developing area of offshore wind power generation. Although already present in both these areas, we will look for acquisitions to strengthen our market offering. We also see opportunities in infrastructure and transportation, particularly in the USA where aging infrastructure requires improvement and so will invest to leverage this and other opportunities. We will also work to build on our success in the Space & Defence market. We will, following a challenging year, look to increase our merger and acquisition performance in 2021.