Valeo has posted first-quarter consolidated sales down 8% on a like-for-like basis to EUR4.5bn (US$4.8bn).

OE sales totalled EUR3.797bn (EUR3.748bn) excluding the Top Column Module business), also down 8% on a like-for-like basis.

Since 10 February, production has gradually resumed at all 34 Group plants in China. Following “very sluggish” activity levels in February, sales in March climbed back to 60% of prior-period 2019 levels.

Activity levels should return to those seen in 2019 during the second quarter. In Europe and North America, Valeo has adjusted production levels in line with stoppages decided by automaker customers.

Automaker production should resume progressively by the end of April in Europe and by end April/early May in North America.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, my absolute priority is to protect the health of our employees from the moment operations resume at our plants,” said Valeo chairman and CEO, Jacques Aschenbroich.

“We have also implemented drastic cost-cutting and cash preservation measures, and, with EUR2.3bn in undrawn credit lines, have made sure we have sufficient liquidity to withstand any further prolongation of the current crisis.

“Despite the 16 point out-performance in the first quarter of the year confirming the acceleration in Valeo’s growth thanks to the technological platforms we have developed over recent years, the lack of visibility over the impact that the Covid-19 crisis will have on the automotive market and on production makes it impossible at this stage to provide a projection of our second-quarter and full-year 2020 results.

“In the current period of uncertainty, Valeo’s board of directors has decided to ask shareholders to approve a dividend payout of EUR0.2 per share.”

Highlights:

Since April, 2020, Valeo has been part of an international consortium led by Air Liquide in response to requests from the French government to supply 10,000 ventilators in 50 days between the beginning of April and mid-May. Within the task force, Valeo is supporting the Air Liquide teams by mobilising buyers, R&D teams and engineers specialised in wide-scale industrial production.

The Group has also donated equipment to various hospitals and medical centres, including tens of thousands of face masks, goggles, gloves, medical caps and protective gowns. For example, Valeo donated 30,000 FFP2/FFP3 masks to French hospitals.

Valeo’s senior management team has also relinquished a portion of its compensation: Aschenbroich has pledged to relinquish 25% of his compensation for the duration of the shutdown to support Covid-19-related solidarity initiatives. The members of the board and the Operations Committee have unanimously decided to follow suit.

The Group has also appealed for solidarity among its French employees:  In France, Valeo has launched an appeal for donations from employees. The funds raised are being paid to the Fondation de France to support healthcare professionals and researchers, as well as people who are vulnerable and living in isolation.

The Group has also set up a Solidarity Fund to help compensate non-managerial staff currently on short-time working arrangements for lost pay. To build up the fund, all managerial staff in France are contributing one day’s annual leave and an appeal has been extended to all Group employees to donate some of their annual leave in the same spirit of solidarity.

The supplier’s sites in Zaragoza and Martos in Spain are manufacturing protective visors for hospitals and nurses at French sites which are temporarily closed, are making themselves available to local hospitals.