Dear Members of the Verein Zuger Gründerzentrum, Dear Guests and Representatives of Authorities and Business Associations, Dear Tenants of BusinessParkZUG.
This year, I am once again pleased to welcome you face to face with a smile and to present the annual report orally. This gives me great personal pleasure. Nevertheless- the official restrictions due to the Corona virus have not disappeared yet and generally it is felt that one has to learn to live with this circumstance. We have taken all precautions today and thank you in advance for following our instructions.
We started the new year in January 2020 with a very good occupancy rate. Our mountaineering team, to continue with the comparison of our last year’s annual reports, has reached the mountain top. Of course, the objective was defined as keeping the troop at the top for as long as possible. But things turned out quite differently during the year. The weather change occurred relatively early in the year. Worldwide, the authorities ordered lockdowns because of the Corona virus, forbade the free market economy to develop freely or to continue only restrictively with protective concepts, home office recommendations and duty became the standard. A new situation also for our BusinessPark.
Although we already offered some of our tenants a rent reduction of 60% over two months in June – as was also proposed by the Federal Council – not all sectors were able to survive. Thus, also in the BusinessPark some companies had to cancel their offices and finally liquidate them completely. It is therefore not surprising that the average occupancy rate in the year under review fell to 84.5% (measured in CHF, previous year around 90%), although we can still be satisfied with our results. Unfortunately, the downward trend has continued in 2021 and, of course, we are doing everything we can to halt this trend. But we are still dependent on all financial support to keep the BusinessPark going.
We are very grateful to our landlord, Alfred Müller AG, that we can continue to count on their valuable support. We would also like to thank WWZ Energie AG, which has extended the sponsorship contract for another year. Furthermore, on behalf of all users, we would like to thank the board of trustees of the Fondation “Antoine Blättler”, who have once again financed the Co-Working-Space. The Co-Working-Space helps people who are working on projects and want to exchange experiences from time to time – be it in the cafeteria over a coffee or in the Co-Working-Space itself. The exchange is very important for us!
Unfortunately, we were almost unable to organize any events. However, two could take place. There was a “Fiesta Argentina” in the summer at our neighbor’s Pizzeria Mediterraneo. 35 tenants and some representatives of sponsors participated in this festive evening event. Conclusion: This change of pace was a perfect fit for the pandemic year 2020.
The annual excursion to Europa-Park Rust could also take place and all tenants who participated in this one-day event were enthusiastic as always.
Otherwise, all scheduled presentations, especially our popular lunchtime events as well as our Christmas dinner, had to be cancelled. What a pity!
Mr. Gian Tgetgel decided to resign from the board after Christmas. We would like to take this opportunity to thank him sincerely for his work and wish him only the very best for the future. As he is the tenant representative on the board, it was important for us to be able to propose a new representative for election at this year’s general meeting. We were able to convince a long-time tenant of our work. Marc Scherrer has a cosmetic company and he would be very happy to contribute his manpower and innovative ideas to the board.
In addition, the Board of Directors decided to place the auditing in other experienced hands. Acton Revisions AG has served us very well as a professional auditing company. But since we no longer have any debts, are an association and are no longer in an over-indebtedness situation, we can dispense with the costly option of a limited audit and today propose two expert persons from our own ranks as auditors.
In terms of personnel, an important change took place at BusinessPark at the end of last year. Our Managing Director, Roland Wyss, decided at an early stage to continue to be available to the Verein Zuger Gründerzentrum at 60%, despite the fact that he is approaching retirement age. Silvano Monn, also well known in the BusinessPark, was also brought on board and will take over the remaining 40% in the future. The board is convinced that with this team, the BusinessParkZUG ship can continue to stay on course.
It will become clear in the future what far-reaching effects the Corona virus restrictions will have. The questions at the moment are many: How is the job market changing in general? Will most people stay or have to stay in the home office? Can all “home office workers” work efficiently in the “private atmosphere” at home? What do companies do that redimension and thus no longer need office space? How does the pricing of office space behave?
These questions will be partially answered in the coming months. We believe that the market for commercial and office leases is becoming more volatile than it has been in the proven past. It is no longer possible to automatically draw conclusions about the future from the past, which will also make planning a lot more difficult for us. We are trying to maintain our attractiveness and increase our occupancy rate with new offers, such as renting out work rooms by the day, week or month for “home office weary” people, renting out meeting rooms or with our new photo studio.
But there are always new conditions that require our full attention. The G7 countries have just decided on a worldwide minimum tax rate of 15% for companies. In Zug, we have reduced this rate to 12% at the beginning of 2020 in order to remain attractive in the international market environment in terms of tax competition. What impact will such unilaterally directed orders from the powerful have on our small Swiss democracy and our tax-attractive location Zug? The future will tell.
But if such orders are implemented with the same speed in the future as the restrictions around the Corona virus, I see very dark storm clouds gathering in the sky for the self-determination and sovereignty of our country and for the attractiveness of our business location Switzerland and Zug. It is difficult for me to derive anything positive for economic development from the “Corona Year” 2020. We Swiss, and we Zugers in particular, have always been innovative. And innovation and entrepreneurial spirit will continue to prevail and succeed in the future. I am convinced of that.
It is therefore all the more important for us to adapt to the new framework conditions that will apply to us in the future and to develop new models accordingly in order to be able to respond to the ever faster changing market and environmental conditions. I will of course make my contribution to this and hand over the presidency to younger hands in good time, but I will also continue to support our association in the future and provide support where necessary.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the BusinessParkZUG management team, Roland Wyss and Silvano Monn, for their tireless efforts and the great organization and support they provide for our tenants in the BusinessPark.
I would also like to thank our Board of Directors, who are always creating new ideas and bringing support for their implementation. It’s great to be able to draw on everyone’s experience when needed.
We would also like to thank everyone who has supported the Verein Zuger Gründerzentrum in any way. Our association members and our tenants who have remained loyal to BusinessParkZUG. And to our new tenants, we extend a warm welcome to our family BusinessPark. We are doing everything we can to ensure that the BusinessPark environment is constantly improving and becoming more attractive, so that all tenants feel comfortable and are happy to recommend us to others, so that all offices will soon be occupied again and remain busy.
President of the Verein Zuger Gründerzentrum