"Under these conditions, 'a new normal' where historical references are no longer valid, I am satisfied with our performance for the quarter. We delivered a result of EUR 180 million, in the upper end of our guidance range. Our continued focus is on building business resilience and putting our efforts in the areas we can impact, that is serving our customers by keeping our operations running and mitigating supply chain challenges, securing liquidity and managing costs, margins and cash flow. Ultimately, we want to ensure our ability for a quick recovery once the tide turns.
"We were out early with actions related to Covid-19, including a global travel ban, social distancing and appointed work streams to keep business momentum. So far, our operations have been running normally on a global level. We have built a strong liquidity position amounting to EUR 1.4 billion, for a potentially longer and deeper recession. We have actions in place to enhance our cash flow going forward by active working capital management and cost savings. Our profit protection programme is delivering ahead of plan and we have increased our savings target to EUR 350 million (earlier EUR 275 million) by the end of 2021. During this first quarter of 2020, we achieved cost savings amounting to EUR 40 million, including one-time cost savings. In regards to managing a potential demand decrease, we have started preparations for potential temporary layoffs or shorter working time if and when needed.
"Naturally, it is fair to say that there are currently high macroeconomic uncertainties and low visibility relating to demand development. So far, our Paper and Wood Products divisions have been affected the most, while there is less impact in our packaging divisions. Biomaterials division is affected by the structural decline in paper end uses and high inventories in China, although the end uses within hygiene and tissue have good demand.
"In just a short time, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink many everyday things we have previously taken for granted. And yet, even in the most difficult of times, basic needs must be met; people need food, medicine and hygiene products. In many countries, packaging, and especially food packaging, is defined as a key or critical industry. The role and purpose of packaging - ensuring hygienic conditions and protecting e.g. food and pharmaceuticals during transportation and on the store shelves - is now as important as ever. This is among the areas where we have a solid offering.
"Our transformation projects are progressing well. The conversion of Oulu Mill into kraftliner is proceeding according to plan. In our constant endeavors for sustainability, we continue to launch renewable products with our customers. Unilever Finland introduced Ingman ice cream in a newly designed carton made of Performa Cream™ by Stora Enso with a plant-based PE Green™ barrier coating. Moreover, I am pleased that we were selected as the provider of wooden materials for 491 building projects around the world, using 41 000 m3 cross laminated timber (CLT) and 500 m3laminated veneer lumber (LVL). Trees absorb CO2, and wood stores it and keeps it out of the atmosphere.
"Going forward, we will concentrate on what we can impact, stay close to our customers, drive innovation and continue building on our growth strategy to be ready when the market turns. I am proud to work with the committed Stora Enso team in these challenging times, as well as with our dedicated customers and partners globally. Together, we will ensure that we are prepared for a more profitable future when the cycle turns. The future grows in the forest.”