Letter to the stakeholders

Gianmario Tondato

2009 was a year of exceptional complexity and enormous challenges for the Group thanks to its diversified business sectors, its cohesive management and the implementation of efficiency boosting measures.

Despite the recession, we managed to pursue policies appropriate to differing needs and circumstances in the Group’s 42 countries and apply an integrated approach to economic and financial choices and the Group’s “Afuture” sustainability philosophy.

Our integrated approach was also seen in the setting up of an international laboratory of sustainable initiatives designed to spread the principles of continual innovation and consolidate the competitive edge we have gained on the market through our respect for people and our safeguarding of the environment.

Over the year this process included: the innovation of points of sale that use renewable energy sources and share best practice to both employees and customers; the development of concepts increasingly geared to sustainability and featuring quality products from local businesses; the innovation of individual protection devices to ensure high safety standards for employees; environmental and social certifications; modifications to the material used in packaging the commercial offering, thus reducing weight and volume and facilitating waste disposal; and the use of recyclable bags in the Retail division.

Next year we will start reaping the benefits from our work in the international “Afuture” laboratory and be able to open the Delaware Welcome Center in the USA, a structure of around 4,000 m2 designed to LEED standards (international design and construction standards for sustainable building) and start construction on the “Villoresi” project on the outskirts of Milan, which will be an important step towards the creation of an eco-compatible commercial structure along major motorways.

These are small beginnings but we believe it possible to construct a more sustainable future by continuing along this road.

We are convinced, in fact, that this strategy, in line with our long-term economic and financial objectives, will enable us to consolidate a global approach to social and environmental issues and become an enterprise in which sustainability is at the core of our general management philosophy, and will gradually inform all the Group’s business.

Gianmario Tondato Da Ruos