Message from the CEO
Navigating towards value creation
From the very inception of our organisation, we promote a high-quality parking experience for our customers. As one of the larger market players we know what they expect: clean, secure, well-lit and accessible parking facilities, close to wherever they need to be. We want to make our customers feel they are more than welcome at Q-Park.
Our challenge for the future is to get to know our customers even better and to tailor our services even more to their wishes. The market is moving in our favour, there is a great deal of value in the operational side of our parking company. This strengthens our belief that with our customer-oriented philosophy, we are making the right choices.
At the crossroads of megatrends
We are exceedingly well positioned to benefit from the megatrends now coming our way. A strategic study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group confirms this. Car parks are more than just a collection of parking spaces. With the boom in electric cars, car sharing, and soon even self-driving cars, our facilities are being transformed into meeting places. Places that contribute to shaping the sharing economy in which we are already fully established.
Our facilities contribute to reducing the number of cars in the urban environment, so that our cities remain liveable. We offer customers facilities for parking and recharging their electric city cars, and subsequently for exchanging their e-car for one suited to longer distances. Our parking facility becomes the crossroads where various megatrends meet.
At the best locations
Q-Park’s strength lies not least in our property and contract portfolio: we are present and visible at the right locations, which will only become increasingly more attractive. Q-Park’s facilities can be found in multifunctional inner city areas, where there's something to experience, where people want to be, or want to live and work. And this urban environment is only going to increase in importance in the coming decades. Add to that the ageing population which is still extremely attached to car ownership and which has adequate financial resources to pay for living and parking in the large cities. All this ensures that the number of cars in urban areas continues to increase.
Greater choice for the customer
Q-Park is in good shape, but we want to excel even further. We have therefore set ourselves a number of goals. Firstly, through our portfolio management, we want to condense our presence in multifunctional cities so we can present our customers with a variety of choices. Our aim is that customers can always park at a Q-Park facility close to wherever they need to be. By using our knowledge of our customers' needs, we can accurately fine tune our supply with demand, perhaps in cooperation with partners in various contractual constructions, but always with the functional Q-Park quality. For this reason, we always choose the best locations, from the conviction that, in line with retail trends, only the best locations will retain customers.
Part of the mobility chain
If we want to make better use of the limited space available in crowded cities, we have to seek cooperation with local authorities. After all, making the right choices for society and the environment, which at the same time are financially sound, is something we face together. Our second goal is that, as a parking provider, we form an even more integral part of the urban mobility chain. This is already the case in many cities. Every day, we demonstrate that we make a positive impact on the quality of urban life. We are expanding this influence by investing in systems that direct motorists to a vacant parking space quickly. Our data shows the amount of traffic entering and leaving individual parking facilities, so we can specifically direct traffic looking for a place to park. We enter into dialogue with local authorities regarding parking tariff policies that further influence driver behaviour. What is important to society, is that the amount of city traffic decreases. This way, we contribute to an environment where people like to spend their time and where the focus is on culture, shopping, fun and education: things that really matter to people.
Digital, yet human
Thirdly, we are increasing our commitment to mobile and online services. Customers can already pre-book a parking space at various Q-Park facilities. This is particularly important when they want to be assured of a spot, such as at airports, train stations, or events. Paying online and driving in and out quickly using your smartphone or debit card is already everyday practice. We will be optimising these capabilities in the coming years.
It is important that we realise, for all digital developments, that we are providing a service and that our customers value good service. For this reason, we are connecting more and more parking facilities to the Q-Park Control Room. Our parking hosts are available for on-site assistance and a sense of security. We deploy our mobile teams wherever they are really needed. This increases our customers' quality experience and our employees' job satisfaction. Both remain important goals.
Local excellence through knowledge-sharing
Throughout North-West Europe, our brand is an important name in the sector. But our operational strength lies in local excellence. At each customer encounter, we want to further improve the parking experience. We will do this by learning from best practices in other Q-Park countries and by implementing our competencies even more widely. We are also committed to collaborating with partners to offer customers a surprisingly good service. For example, we enable customers to make mobile payments or to book a car-sharing space at our facilities via another service provider’s app.
Naturally, our financial strategy supports these goals. Q-Park has recently taken decisions to increase the company's resilience. An important starting point is that we want to be less dependent on the economic cycle, which has certainly affected us in recent years. The goodwill impairment and the downward revaluation of investment property are examples of this.
We will manage more firmly on cost savings and on increasing free cash flows based on realistic plans. In 2014, we completed the divestment programme which has enabled us to reduce our debt position, and reduce our interest costs considerably.
Value creation for all stakeholders
We are sailing a steady course. We assume a conservative scenario focused on value creation for all our stakeholders. We maintain established relationships in the mobility chain, and that our stakeholders regard us as a reliable partner is vitally important to us. The added value that Q-Park inherently provides is the combination of knowledge of investment property, the integration of parking facilities in the urban environment, and the operation of parking facilities. We know what we are talking about and demonstrate that we are a reliable partner for the long term.
We have built up an excellent reputation and position and we will continue expanding the company based on our value creation strategy, with careful portfolio management focused on stable cash flow, and a strong brand name in which Q proudly stands for 'Quality' for the customer.