Clear path forward with updated strategy
In an interview, Ambea’s CEO Mark Jensen summarises some of the key events of the year and looks ahead.
How would you summarise 2022 for Ambea?
A stable year with positive growth despite a turbulent business environment. Ambea achieved its highest-ever sales during the year, which meant we could provide even more care receivers with support and assistance. Demand for elderly care and social care was favourable in Sweden, and Vardaga and Nytida showed a positive trend during the year. In Stendi, we worked with capacity adjustments and ensuring that we have the right staffing, which began to show results in the second half of the year. In 2023, we will continue working to strengthen profitability in Stendi. In Denmark and Altiden, the focus was on the integration of several acquisitions and creation of a stable and sustainable platform for future growth. In our smallest division, Klara, we completed a strategic transition during the year with both acquisitions and divestments, which will create even better opportunities moving forward.
Was there anything in particular during the year that you would like to mention?
All of my meetings with care receivers and employees. I prioritise making many visits to our units and everywhere that I go, I meet highly knowledgeable and committed employees. My experience is that we are always striving to fulfil our vision – to make the world a better place, one person at a time. That means that we are always moving forward and developing our business at all levels. It is also clear that demands on us are increasing, so I would like to highlight our systematic quality management. In addition, I would like to thank all of our employees for their value-creating efforts during the year.
How have external events affected Ambea?
In many different ways. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused human suffering, as we all know, and we have tried to support the Ukrainian people and society in various ways. We have organised collections and donated funds to support humanitarian aid in the country. In Sweden, we have provided properties for refugee accommodation and created work experience placements and jobs for Ukrainians who have fled the war. Our units have also organised races and activities to collect clothing, food and hygiene kits that have then been sent to Ukraine. I am really proud of the commitment and local initiatives that have been taken within the organisation. And like everyone else, we’ve been affected by the economic situation with high inflation and sharply rising prices for food and energy. Despite the fact that we acted fast and took measures to dampen the effect, our costs rose to more than SEK 100 million for the full-year.
Have you updated your strategy?
Yes. It was a good time to update the strategy to move Ambea forward, and to take advantage of the business opportunities that we see in the coming years. All Scandinavian countries are facing a sharp increase in the need for care due to a growing and ageing population. An ageing population will not only increase the need for care, but also place strain on municipal budgets. Ambea can make a contribution here and help our clients with smart and efficient solutions so that society can continue to deliver personalised care and more people can benefit from this care.
Can you tell us about the strategy, and what is new?
We call it the ‘Strategy for future-proof care.’ The message we want to send is that we have solutions to the welfare challenges ahead, and that we are contributing to sustainable development. We have also identified and will work with four strategic focus area and the important dimension of sustainability. We have clarified our position – we want to be the leading care company in the markets in which we operate. That means that we will continue to focus on development and profitable growth in the segments where we are strong, but exclude areas with low development potential such as elderly care in Norway or home care in Denmark. In addition, we will place extra focus on the development of services based on the needs of our care receivers and clients, and our relentless work with competence enhancement and quality improvement will continue. We also want to create more time for our employees to deliver care by eliminating all unnecessary administration and increasing innovation in social welfare. We have an exciting future ahead of us, and Ambea can offer solutions that create sustainable care for all. Read more about the strategy here.
What are your predictions for 2023?
We will continue to deliver good and high-quality care to a growing number of care receivers. In 2023, there will be slightly fewer new-starts year-on-year, but there will be more in 2024, so we will also be preparing for them. In addition, we will be focused on implementing the strategy, actively seeking compatible acquisitions and working with business leadership in the day-to-day operations. We will always be affected by the world around us and the economic situation, but that doesn’t have to be all negative. As municipal budgets become more and more strained, the interest in private alternatives increases because we offer knowledge, quality and cost efficiency. At the same time, elderly care must be significantly expanded in Sweden and Denmark. So I would like to see more political dialogue and collaboration around how we create new care homes. This is becoming more and more urgent because the number of elderly people and people with dementia will grow sharply over the next five to six years.
Do you have any suggestions for how the expansion could be sped up?
Yes. Two specific recommendations that Ambea supports are the introduction of a national freedom of choice reform in all municipalities through the Swedish Freedom of Choice Act (LOV) for example. That would provide clear and stable conditions for private and non-profit players to create more new care homes. It would also increase opportunities for people to choose a care home according to their own needs and wishes instead of being placed on a waiting list, which creates anxiety and reduces quality of life. To increase the rate of establishment in Denmark, where private and non-profit players are entitled to the same compensation as municipal operators, a uniform and transparent model is needed to calculate municipal costs – something we would also like to see in Sweden.
Some final words?
We are looking forward to the future, and to welcoming more care receivers to us 2023. The need for care will grow sharply in the coming years and we have an important role to play here. We are convinced that public and private sector collaboration will enable us to create the best solutions. I would also like to thank our clients for their confidence in us, our care receivers who spend their days with us, their loved ones for good cooperation and, not least, our employees for their invaluable contributions.