Sustainability is an integral part of the Bekaert strategy. We are committed to create value for all our stakeholders by delivering on both financial and non-financial objectives. In this report we describe how we convert, through the implementation of our strategy, the resources we invest (‘inputs’) into sustainable value (‘outputs & impact’) for our shareholders, customers, employees, communities, and other stakeholders.
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1 Based on the framework Guidelines of Value Reporting Foundation (International Reporting Council (IIRC) & Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)
2 JVs included
3 23 568 in consolidated entities + 3 613 in joint ventures = 27 181 combined
4 Total Recordable Incident Rate and Lost-Time Incident Frequency Rate 2021 versus 2020
Strong cash generation over the past years has enabled us to free up cash for value creating investments. In 2021 we invested € 153 million in capital expenditure (PP&E) and € 67 million in Research & Innovation (R&I) activities (before deduction of grants and tax credits).
We sourced materials and services from 16 000 suppliers globally and employ more than 27 000 people in 45 countries in the world, including manufacturing sites in 25 countries and additional sales and distribution facilities in 20 more countries.
We invested in developing sustainable solutions and digital manufacturing systems and raised our sustainability ambitions and targets in line with the transition to a low-carbon society. We continued to invest in health & safety and learning & development, and we extended our digital capabilities to improve data insights and customer services.
2021 marked a record year in sales and EPS. Underlying EBIT increased by +89% to € 515 million at a margin of 10.6%. The strong results and record net result attributable to equity holders of Bekaert resulted in the proposal of the Board of Directors to distribute a dividend of € 1.50 per share.
We serve 13 500 customers in 130 countries in the world. Our investments in research and innovation added 25 first patent filings in 2021, which resulted in a portfolio of patents and patent rights of more than 1 900. 21 partnerships with academic and research institutes help accelerate our innovation efforts and more than 85% of our Research & Innovation project list target distinct benefits in sustainability.
Efforts to reduce our carbon footprint are ongoing and 100% of steel-based scrap returns to the steel mills for recycling. € 133 million in income taxes were paid in the countries where we are active. Continued priority actions in health and safety led to a reduction of safety incident rates for the fourth consecutive year. All managers and salaried professionals sign off the Code of Conduct annually. Our focus on diversity & inclusion, training and development, and other employee engagement initiatives drive the irrepressible spirit and strong delivery and engagement of our teams worldwide.