Executive Board report

Our members

The interests of our members and customers are central to everything we do. All the services we provide are aimed at helping the bereaved and supporting the connection between people and generations. Partly thanks to our focus on excellent service, customer satisfaction has increased across all activities of the cooperative. Through our cooperative panel, we involve customers in improving our products and services.

DELA is committed to increasing the number of policyholders so that we can achieve economies of scale in purchasing and keep premiums as low as possible. Despite a shrinking market in the Netherlands, we had a robust net growth in the number of policyholders in 2018. The increase in Belgium was relatively stronger than in the Netherlands: this is where DELA has the most potential for further growth. DELA has also been active in the German market since the spring of 2018, and has got off to a promising start. In total, we had some 123,000 policyholders more at the end of 2018 than a year before.

Markets

DELA has core markets and new markets.


Our core markets are the Netherlands and Belgium

According to our long-term scenarios, it seems inevitable that the funeral insurance portfolio – the heart of our activities – will shrink in the Netherlands. At the same time, the funeral market as a whole will grow strongly due to the expected demographic developments. This will require a reconsideration of our core products and markets, which must result in new ways to connect people to the cooperative before, during and after a funeral. This can be achieved by making improvements to the current insurances we offer, by finding new ways to fund funerals or by introducing new forms of membership. This will enable us to serve more customers in the growing uninsured funeral market.

Belgium is our second core market, with very different growth prospects – in the long term, this market may still triple in size. Sustaining growth, as well as realising synergies between insurance and service, is the challenge in this context. Our insurance company takes care of the financial security of funerals, while our funeral services assist surviving relatives with funerals, crematoriums, repatriation and bereavement services.

Perspective for new markets: start in Germany

An exploration of possibilities in other countries in Europe has found opportunities for growth in several places, especially for entering markets via insurance. The basic principle here is that all growth abroad is at the service of the total cooperative. The German market is very large and our first point of order is to establish more of a presence there. This is why DELA opened an office in Düsseldorf in 2018.


Insuring

The size of our total portfolio, measured by the number of policyholders, is a major priority for DELA. Despite the shrinking market for individual life insurance policies, we again achieved significant growth in 2018 across all three product groups: funeral insurance, life insurance and savings insurance. The broadening of our services means we do not just provide more for our existing members and customers, but also attract new policyholders. The consolidated organic net growth was some 81,200 new policyholders (this figure was approximately 80,500 in 2017). Including non-organic growth, the total net increase was around 123,000 policyholders.

Policyholders

Number of policyholders per product at the end of the year and increase during the year under review

Policyholders
  2018  net growth 2017     
           
Nederland Uitvaartplan (funerals) 2,897,923  +10,758  2,887,165     
Nederland Leefdoorplan (life insurance) 282,153  +25,994  256,159     
Nederland Spaarplan (savings) 38,279  +5,221  33,058     
Total for the Netherlands 3,218,355  +41,973  3,176,382     
Belgium 835,392  +76,936  758,456     
Germany 4,100  +4,100  ‑     
Total 4,057,847  +123,009  3,934,838     

Funeral insurance

The year 2018 was very good for funeral insurance. In the Netherlands, both new revenue –largely realised online – and the existing portfolio produced good results. DELA's share in the Dutch funeral insurance market increased in 2018 and is now 39.1% (37.2% in 2017). As the funeral insurance market is still developing in Belgium the growth opportunities are even greater than in the Netherlands. The organic net growth in the number of policyholders was more than 35,100 in Belgium in 2018 (around 33,600 in 2017). In addition, the acquisition of the Belgian insurance portfolio of Hooghenraed, completed on 1 October, led to a migration of approximately 41,800 policies to DELA. At the end of 2018, DELA Belgium had a total of 835,392 policyholders, no less than 10.1% more than one year previously. At the end of October, DECAVI proclaimed the DELA funeral care plan the best funeral insurance policy for the second year in a row. A funeral insurance policy was also developed for the German market in 2018 and will be introduced in 2019.

Surrender of funeral insurance

As of 1 May 2018, deposits that include the previously surrendered amount of the funeral insurance can be surrendered. Since 2015, The Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) indicated that surrender should be made possible for new funeral insurance policies. DELA is a cooperative in which the members have the final vote. The surrender policy was adopted unanimously in the general meeting and implemented on 1 January 2017. A major difference with the previous scheme is that the calculated surrender value is paid out directly and no longer mandatorily placed in the deposit fund. This is under the condition that the surrender value before reduction is higher than a fixed minimum amount. In the old scheme, we did not pay out cash as the legislation and regulations did not allow insurance companies to do so. The surrender value would go into the DELA Deposit Fund instead. The amounts in this fund are supplemented annually by a good healthy interest rate. The built-up amount is released after death, allowing descendants to use it for the funeral.

Life insurance

Net growth in life insurance policies was around 26,000 in the Netherlands (approximately 32,500 in 2017). This score was hit in the year under review by the challenging housing market, which makes it difficult for first-time home owners to get mortgages and means fewer life insurance policies are sold. Life insurance policies are mainly sold through intermediary channels. DELA is seeing increasing competition in the Netherlands. In Germany, where DELA started offering life insurance in 2018, the circumstances are different. Life insurance is already a well-known product on the German market. In its first year of operation, DELA Germany sold no fewer than 4,100 policies and received an excellent (A) rating for solvency and stability from rating agency Assekurata, as well as a five-star rating for its products from Morgen & Morgen. We are very proud of these performances. DELA is not yet widely known in Germany, but the Dutch have a good reputation there for being reliable and friendly. The idea of a cooperative is also attractive to Germans.

Savings insurance

DELA also offers savings insurance on the Dutch market. This is a good way for consumers to put money aside for the long term at a fixed interest rate of 2.00%. This product offers a worthwhile alternative to banks now that they offer such low interest rates. Savings insurance policyholders deposit a periodical or one-off amount and receive a guaranteed amount at the end of the term. DELA renewed its savings insurance product on 1 January 2018, partly in relation to new European regulations (PRIIPs). The net increase in our number of savings insurance policyholders in the Netherlands was approximately 5,200 (8,800 in 2017). The decrease compared to the previous year is due to our interest rate adjustment at the start of the year. Towards the end of 2018 we again started seeing an increase in the volume of savings insurance policies.

Marketing

The increase in the number of policyholders across the full range of our products and markets was, of course, not automatic. DELA has an active marketing approach which seeks an ideal balance between commercial goals (appropriate to our objective of becoming as large as possible) and restraint (suiting our brand and products). We choose to engage in an active dialogue about socially relevant events. We use posts on social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook to communicate about DELA and passing away.

We have implemented a range of campaigns in the Netherlands in which marketing automation and one-to-one marketing became even more prominent. As well as increasing the effectiveness of campaigns in the modern digital media landscape, this ensures a better customer focus. In 2018, DELA Netherlands developed new propositions for the private funeral market that went live in September. There has also been work on the translation of the very successful ‘Waarom Wachten’ (‘Why Wait’) brand campaign from 2012 into an updated version. This campaign will be rolled out in 2019 and run for several years.

My memory of you (Je ne t’oublierai jamais)

Funeral specialist DELA aims to help people before, during and after the funeral. In light of this mission, DELA developed an online tool called ‘My memory of you’ together with bereavement specialists and bereavement therapist Lies Scaut to help children grieve. The fact that children mourn lost ones too is sometimes overlooked.

The app focuses on children in elementary school and aims to provide support with the bereavement process by keeping the memory of the deceased alive. The app’s main characters, Leon and Marie, take the child on a journey through the labyrinth of bereavement, and help them create a world of memories.

As children often have a wrong impression of everything related to funerals, the deceased or viewings, we developed an educational segment with informative videos on saying goodbye to loved ones. This way they can start the bereavement process well-prepared and with the right expectations.

DELA Belgium conducted the media campaign ‘U bent onvergetelijk maar niet onsterfelijk’ ('You are unforgettable but not immortal') using the song Unforgettable (1952) by Nat King Cole. This included a successful radio campaign. In addition, there were several online campaigns throughout the year, regular posts on Facebook and publicity provided by PR. An important way to improve customer awareness and the idea of DELA as ‘Belgium’s foremost funeral specialist’ is also an active, visible presence in the field of public information.


Funerals

DELA owes its success to a combination of insurance and care. Our employees offer concrete help and support our members and their relatives with advice and assistance. Originally this meant mainly taking care of the funeral, but the assistance that DELA offers has been expanded in recent years. At the end of 2018, DELA had a total of 145 funeral venues, including 25 crematoriums and 82 funeral homes.

In the Netherlands, over 153,000 people passed away in 2018 – more than had been projected by the mortality tables. This led to a busy period, especially in the first quarter. This was compounded by the fact that DELA had also strengthened its market share in private funerals. The number of funerals in Belgium fell slightly, however. Here, the focus was on strengthening the internal organisation, and we were aiming to achieve growth through acquisitions. The number of cremations in Belgium decreased, partly due to the fact that cremations in the city of Hasselt are no longer provided by DELA.

Funerals

Numbers

Funerals
By country 2018  difference 2017     
           
Funerals          
Netherlands 33,422 +1,601  31,821    
Belgium 11,461 ‑334  11,795    
Total 44,883 +1,267  43,616    
           
Cremations          
Netherlands 23,984 +1,203  22,781    
Belgium 8,367 ‑1,646  10,013    
Total 32,351 ‑443  32,794    

The total number of funerals in 2018 was approximately 44,900, a rise compared to 2017 of almost 1,300 funerals. This increase was recorded entirely in the Netherlands: the number of funerals in Belgium fell slightly compared to 2017, by around 300. The share of private funerals in the Netherlands rose every quarter in 2018, albeit gradually, ultimately going from 17% to 18%. In the four quarters of 2017, the proportion of private funerals fluctuated between 15% and 16%. This is a good development. The funeral company in Belgium, on the other hand, focuses primarily on the private market. Growth there must primarily take place through acquisitions. Margins are under pressure at funeral homes, particularly in the Netherlands due to increased competition.

Product development

DELA is committed to making funerals as sustainable and personal as possible, and our product development is focused especially on this.

In 2018, DELA and our supplier Kaspersma Uitvaartkistenfabriek developed a new type of coffin, which marks a significant leap forward in the field of corporate social responsibility. The sustainable coffin is expected to receive FSC certification and be introduced to the market in 2019.

The test phase of a new printing system, in which funeral directors arrange the printing themselves online, was successfully completed in 2018. A large-scale national rollout started in March 2019, after the usual busy period at the start of the year.

Takeovers

On 1 August, DELA took over Uitvaartzorg Lantmeeters - Geyskens in Genk (B). Preparations for two other acquisitions in Belgium were started in 2018 and the takeovers should be completed in 2019.

Zit-lig coffin

Sjeng Schellinx, a carpenter from Maastricht, joined forces with DELA in 2018 to develop the zit-lig coffin. It is common to tend to the deceased and then present them on their beds or in their coffin for a viewing. Initiator Schellinx developed a prototype based on his own personal wish to allow the deceased to be presented sitting up. The zit-lig coffin is suitable for burials or cremations.

New construction and renovations

DELA has carried out work on the Zeeuwse Land crematorium in Goes (NL), which opened in April/May. The new Hoge Boght crematorium in Veldhoven (NL) was operational for its first full calendar year in 2018. We also renovated facilities in Leiden and Oldenzaal (NL). In April, DELA started building a new funeral centre on the grounds of the Zegestede crematorium in Roosendaal (NL). The Ommering Crematorium in Spijkenisse (NL) was renovated from May 2018 onwards and reopened in March 2019.

The locations of Uitvaartzorg Forrier and Vangrunderbeek in Vilvoorde and Zaventem (B) have been refurbished. The beautiful new Bleyaert funeral home in Knokke (B) opened its doors. The auditorium of Uitvaartzorg Marote in Ostend (B) received a makeover. Uitvaartzorg Remans in Genk (B) and Uitvaartzorg Lambrecht in Blankenberge (B) were given new workplaces. New facilities at Uitvaartzorg Bemelmans in Trooz (B) and Laloux-Chaudoir in Salzinnes (B) are still under construction and will be ready in the first half of 2019. Taken as a whole substantial investments have been made and the facilities have been further modernised.

Mortuary Brussels Airport

DELA has its own repatriation centre by the airport in Zaventem, called Mortuary Brussels Airport. Our employees are available to help descendants repatriate their loved ones to and from foreign countries. Thanks to the extensive DELA network, we can provide smooth repatriation with respect for any religion, customs and rituals of the deceased and their descendants, always guaranteeing a personal and humane approach. The location has its own viewing facilities and auditorium for farewell/funeral ceremonies.

Learning and improving

By focusing on excellent services and continuously learning and improving together, we have enhanced customer satisfaction and with it our NPS figures, both in the Netherlands and in Belgium.

Excellent service
It is good to regularly test what we stand for and the service we offer on a daily basis with our members and customers. It is important to ask ourselves whether our services still fit their needs, wishes and expectations. The DELA assets (called the DELA pillars in Belgium) represent the issues policyholders consider important in our services. Things that sometimes feel ordinary in our work can be what make the most difference in the eyes of others. Working together on an excellent service level requires everyone to understand the essence of the assets and know how to translate them into their daily work.

Net promoter score
The net promoter score is the system we use to measure the satisfaction of our customers, our members and surviving relatives. NPS measures whether customers are likely to recommend us to others. Our overall score in the Netherlands rose to 53, and there was a very clear increase in our score in Belgium to 52 during the year under review.

Net promoter score

12-month average. Total DELA Group, weighted by respondents

Net promoter score
  2018  2017  2016  2015   
           
Netherlands          
Insurance 43 42 41 28  
Funeral services 71 70 68 58  
Customer service 35 32 26 32  
Total (weighted by respondents) 53 52 52 45  
           
Belgium          
Insurance 39 30      
Funeral services 74 71      
Customer service 32 26      
Total (weighted by respondents) 52 43      
           
Total group 53 49      

Excellent service

The funeral business in the Netherlands initiated the ‘Most Hospitable’ (Gastvrij de Beste) programme, focused on improving the competences of managers, detailing the value of engagement and developing a uniform impression, desired employee behaviour, an optimal working environment and simplified & clear protocols. The programme aims to ensure everyone receives a warm welcome.

Product development: ThuisBest

The elderly are now living at home independently until a much older age. In 2018, DELA started to develop a product that would enable insurance to be paid out for certain care needs related to old age, illness or accident. Research was carried out for this purpose in 2018, and product development under the name ThuisBest was initiated. It was eventually decided not to market the product, as the research showed that the target group of the product did not have a sufficient interest in the insurance.

Promoting members’ interests

By and for members
In the Netherlands, policyholders and co-insured individuals are members of the cooperative and therefore represent the collective 'owners' of DELA. Work on the legal structure for our policyholders in Belgium is still underway and will be completed before 2020: the intention is for them to join the cooperative as well. Once the number of policyholders in Germany reaches a certain number – for now we are considering a cut-off point of 100,000 – we would like them to become members of the cooperative too.

Taking part in consultations and decision-making
The general meeting represents our members and is the highest organ of our cooperative. It has the final say in appointments and policy, and appoints the Members of the Supervisory and Executive Boards. The way in which our cooperative is managed and our members’ interests safeguarded is described in the Corporate Governance section.

General meeting in 2018
There were two sessions of the general meeting in 2018, in January and May. The focus in the autumn was on continuing education.

The following matters were discussed on 13 January:

  • Seventeen new delegates or deputy delegates joined the general meeting;
  • The results of the FIT programme, which aims to make the cooperative more financially sound, innovative and future-oriented). This was started in mid-2015 after costs were found to be rising faster than turnover. FIT aimed to break this trend and structurally save €17 million by 1 January 2018 compared to the 2015 budget;
  • The deflation policy. Within DELA, we deal with the annual increase in average funeral costs by raising the funeral insurance premium. This increase is submitted to the general meeting for approval every year. A deflation policy has now also been established;
  • The reappointment of Ms Caderius van Veen to the Supervisory Board;
  • The budget, which was shared with the general meeting;
  • The capital policy, which was approved;
  • The profit-distribution scheme, which was approved;
  • The adjustment to the savings insurance policy that DELA introduced in 2018.

On 26 May, the general meeting discussed:

  • The surrender of deposits which include an already-surrendered amount on a funeral insurance policy;
  • The election of the Confidential Committee. In accordance with Article 10 of the Rules of Procedure, four members were appointed. The members are appointed for a maximum period of four years and one resigns in accordance with the pre-set rotation schedule each year. A vote designated Mr Slenter to fill the vacancy which arose in 2018;
  • The annual report. After detailed clarification by the Executive Board, the general meeting approved the financial statements for 2017 and the result appropriation, officially adopting the DELA annual report;
  • Discharge. The general meeting unanimously granted discharge to the individual members of the Executive Board for the policy pursued and to the Supervisory Board for supervising the policy pursued by the Executive Board;
  • The remuneration report. On the basis of the remuneration report, the general meeting established that remuneration for 2017 had been allocated with due care;
  • The average funeral costs;
  • The premium adjustment. The general meeting approved an increase in the premium to reflect the rise in the average funeral costs of 1.90%;
  • The determination of the distribution of profit for the DELA Spaarplan (savings plan);
  • The extra expenditure on digitisation over the previously discussed budget.

Consultation of members

DELA cooperative panel
To properly represent our members' interests, we conduct research and make choices with our members on matters such as products and operations. Consulting the members is an important aspect of this work. We have had a cooperative panel organised and run by and for our members since 2010. This panel was converted into an online platform in 2015, allowing a larger group of members to contribute ideas. At the end of 2018, 1,913 members (1,800 in 2017) were connected. In the year under review they contributed to the following topics:

  • The ‘dignity in old age’ programme, including the inventory of a new insurance policy;
  • Surrender costs;
  • Communication about the new 2019 policy;
  • The process of taking deceased individuals’ fingerprints.

All results are available in Dutch at https://www.dela.nl/over-dela/over-cooperatie-dela/lid-van-cooperatie- dela/cooperatiepanel/terugkoppeling-van-onderzoeksresultaten.

Our finances

The cooperative has been there for its members for more than 80 years now, generation after generation. Focused on security, care and continuity, we make sure we deliver on our promises: benefits that retain their value over time for a premium that is kept as low as possible through distribution of profits. While the operational results for 2018 were good, the investment result was negative so a substantial loss was reported on balance. As the solvency ratio shows, DELA is financially sound and in very good shape. Despite the disappointing investment results, the solvency margin rose and the cooperative was able to distribute €42 million of profit for the benefit of its members. Since its foundation, DELA has built up financial buffers in good times as reserves to use when things go less well.


DELA business model

DELA has a robust business model. The diversified investment of insurance premiums makes a structural contribution to our cooperative and its members in the long term. The nature of the insurance policies – in most cases paid out in the event of death – leads to long-term obligations. As this long horizon requires a relatively offensive investment strategy, investment results can fluctuate.


Premium income

Organic growth in premium income was four percent in 2018 (nine percent in 2017) and increased to €451 million. The lower growth compared to 2017 is entirely due to the fall in the volume of the purchase prices for the savings insurance policies. In the Netherlands, there was broad growth across all three product groups: funeral insurance, life insurance and savings insurance. Belgium achieved a greater percentage increase in premiums (discounting the German market, which is just getting started).

2018 was a good year for funeral insurance. Both the new turnover, largely realised online, and the management of existing portfolios was better than expected.

Premium income

€ x 1,000

Premium income
  2018  difference 2017     
           
Netherlands 341,580  2% 335,860     
Belgium 108,905  10% 98,913     
Germany 297  - ‑     
Total 450,782  4% 434,773     

Investment income

Fluctuations in the value of our investments during 2018 worked to our disadvantage, leading to a loss for the year under review. While we would of course have preferred a profit, volatility is a direct consequence of our strategic investment choices. These are aimed at achieving the solid long-term return on which the premium is based as well as to counteract the inflation in funeral costs. As we expect to achieve good results with our strategy over the years, we accept sizeable momentary fluctuations in the value of our investment portfolio.

Income from investments

€ x 1,000

Income from investments
  2018  difference 2017     
           
Income from investments, operational 130,314 5% 124,624    
Income from investments, non-operational ‑265,091 ‑187% 305,148    
Other expenses, including intercompany hire of crematoriums ‑4,510 ‑34% ‑6,799    
Income from investments ‑139,287 ‑133% 422,973    

On balance, the loss from investments amounts to €139 million. The return on investments differs by more than €500 million compared to 2017. Our investment strategy is relatively sensitive to negative market sentiment, and this was particularly the case in the fourth quarter of 2018. Relatively speaking, the average performance of our investments was in accordance with the relevant benchmarks.


Operating result

The operating result was solid in 2018, although significantly lower than budgeted. This decrease compared to 2017 was expected and is mainly due to the sharp increase in expenditure related to change programmes linked to IT and the digitisation of various processes. We also incurred extra marketing costs to increase our share in the funeral market and the new pension scheme also increased costs in 2018. Although the new scheme will result in additional costs in the short term, it entails fewer risks for employers in the long term.

On balance, the operating result was €35.8 million. Problems included the persistently high absenteeism due to illness, the aforementioned expenditure related to change programmes, the higher pension costs and the pressure on margins at the funeral company. While DELA gives priority to limiting the increase in average funeral costs and maintaining the quality of our services, we also wish the funeral company to end every year with a modest positive result. We expect that, after further investments, the funeral company will post a positive balance in 2021.

IT costs weigh heavily on the operational costs in the insurance business as they demand substantial investments, while the funeral business is experiencing pressure on the margins. The high absence-through-illness figures are not helping us either.

Operating result

€ x 1,000

Operating result
  2018  difference 2017     
           
Premium revenue 450,782  4% 434,773     
Investment revenue (attributed to technical account) 130,314  5% 124,624     
Turnover of funeral company 241,155  2% 237,110     
Other turnover 109  ‑97% 3,418     
Income 822,360  3% 799,925     
           
Expenditure (excluding extra costs for change programmes) 775,866  4% 744,045     
Extra expenditure for change programmes 10,700  - ‑     
Expenditure 786,566  6% 744,045     
           
Operating result 35,794  ‑36% 55,880     

DELA Digital: a basis for personal service

Digitisation affects the entire organisation. Business and IT joined forces to develop a strong foundation for personal service, the focal point of the digitisation process. In 2018, we learned a lot about what we can still achieve. The massive digitisation task requires DELA to invest in systems & processes as well as in people. It is crucial we reduce our basic costs in order to increase our flexibility, allowing us to invest more in digitisation, robotisation and artificial intelligence in the coming years.

FIT

The cost-savings programme called FIT (financially solid, innovative and future-oriented) started in the Netherlands in 2015 and was successfully completed in 2017. It initially started because costs were rising too fast compared to the turnover. The goal was to breach this trend and structurally save €17 million compared to the 2015 budget as of 1 January 2018.

The FIT project was also started in Belgium in 2017. The goal here was to achieve structural cost savings of €5.1 million on an annual basis compared to the 2017 budget starting from 2020. The goal was translated into incremental annual targets: the savings of €2.2 million for 2018 exceeded the goal of €2.0 million via structural savings in the insurance business, funeral business and various staff departments.


Solvency

Our solvency position remained very solid in 2018 thanks to the connections we have with our distribution of profit and investments. We strive for an optimal balance between investment policy, distribution of profits and solvency. The negative return on investments in 2018 shows the effect of this when the results are disappointing. While the negative return led to a reduction in the expected distribution of profit, having a mix of investments focused on many long-term assets ensured that this decrease remained limited. Solvency was maintained at the same level, with the mitigating effect of the system for distribution of profit playing a crucial role. The solvency ratio even increased to 373%, partly thanks to the effect of our system on the fall in share prices in December 2018. Model improvements enabled us to determine the mitigating effect of the distribution of profit with greater precision.

All this underlines the robustness of DELA’s business model. The investment policy ensures that expectations of the distribution of profit are not too badly affected by setbacks in the results, and the mitigating effect of the profit-distribution system ensures a constant solvency.

Solvency ratio

Percentage. In accordance with Solvency II

Solvency ratio
  2018  difference 2017     
           
Solvency ratio 373% +64pp 309%    

A solvency ratio of 373% demonstrates that DELA has a very solid starting position and is sufficiently robust to deal with currency fluctuations.

Distribution of profit

DELA aims to ensure members a stable pay-out for funerals. The costs of a funeral rise continuously due to inflation. Premiums are also increasing due to inflation as well as the costs of so-called backservice. We limit these increases for our members as much as possible by means of distribution of profit. The amount being shared depends on inflation: the higher the inflation, the higher the backservice and the greater profit we aim to share in principle.

Profit distribution scheme

The extent to which we can limit the back-serviced premium via profit distribution depends on the average coverage ratio over 12 months. An average coverage ratio of 225% or higher results in full profit distribution while an average coverage ratio of between 125% and 225% leads to partial profit distribution. No profit distribution applies below 125%. The coverage ratio depends on factors including interest, mortality and costs. If the interest is below 1%, and the coverage ratio is lower than 125%, DELA takes premium measures. Based on various scenarios, it is determined per annum what is best for the cooperative and what benefits members most in the short-term by keeping the annual premium increase as low as possible.  

Distribution of profit

€ x 1,000

Distribution of profit
  2018  2017       
           
Awarded 42,321  17,753       

Despite negative investment results, we were able to share €42 million of profit in 2018. The increase compared to 2017 is largely due to the fact that funeral expenses have risen by 1.9% and our wish to share more profit to compensate for the backservice. The average coverage ratio, which is at the base of the distribution of profit for 1 January 2019, has also risen to 189% - in 2017 it was still 171%.

Profit distribution makes DELA unique. The cooperative has allocated nearly €600 million to profit distribution in the past decade.


Average funeral costs

DELA closely monitors the average funeral costs in the Netherlands on an annual basis. In addition to paying out insured claims, we aim to compensate for the inflation in funeral costs. The average funeral cost was €4,197 in 2018, a rise of 1.5% compared to a year earlier.

Funeral costs

in €. For a pre-arranged set package in the Netherlands, per adult

Funeral costs
  2018  difference 2017     
           
Average funeral costs per person 4,197 1.5% 4,134    

Our people

DELA believes that happy employees ensure happy customers and members, and vice versa. We are therefore proud of our excellent results in the Great Place to Work survey. DELA Netherlands was named Best Employer 2018 and DELA Belgium scored a very respectable seventh place. Both scores were higher in 2018 than in the previous year.

At DELA everyone matters and all colleagues are supported from day one. Employee involvement is part and parcel of our culture: we strive for everyone to feel involved with our members, customers and role in society. But we cannot get there with commitment alone. We will continue to achieve good results via constant development and staying alert.

Good employer

DELA aims to provide the most pleasant and comfortable place to work. The opinion of our employees is very important to us and their feedback enables us to constantly improve.

Great Place to Work score

To see where we stand in relation to similarly sized companies, DELA participates in the Great Place to Work (GPtW) survey every year. GPtW focuses especially on trust as a key element of being a good employer. The score for our operations in both the Netherlands and Belgium improved in 2018. DELA Belgium in particular has improved significantly over recent years.

Employee satisfaction

GPtW (Great Place to Work) score

Employee satisfaction
  2018  2017  2016  2015  2014 
           
The Netherlands (category> 250 employees) 89 84 81 83 83
Belgium (category> 500 employees) 87 83 79 71 78

Best Workplaces

On 27 March 2019, DELA Netherlands was awarded first prize in the category ‘large companies’ during the presentation of the Best Workplaces awards by GPtW. This is the second year in a row that DELA was declared best employer in the Netherlands. DELA Belgium also did very well and was awarded sixth place among Best Workplaces in 2019. We are very proud of this recognition, which is a huge mark of appreciation and confirms that our colleagues feel heard. We work hard to achieve this together every day. The ranking of Best Workplaces consists of two components: the annual employee survey (which counts for two thirds) and feedback from the Culture Audit (one third).

On 20 March 2019 it was announced that DELA Belgium had risen from seventh to sixth position. A further step in the right direction!

On 27 March 2019 it was announced that DELA Netherlands had once again won first place and could continue to call itself Best Workplace!

Culture audit

The Culture Audit provides a detailed, illustrated impression of DELA’s employer policy and what makes DELA unique and special for many colleagues. Both DELA Netherlands and DELA Belgium performed an audit in 2018. The jury report praises DELA for addressing the needs of employees and having regular discussions in listening sessions and round-table meetings. DELA also stimulates its employees to fully develop themselves via the Personal Track programme, DELA summer schools and round-table meetings.


Recruitment and selection

Like other companies, DELA is finding it increasingly difficult to attract employees. Recruitment and employer branding projects and campaigns were set up in the Netherlands in 2018 and will go live in 2019. In Belgium, a study was launched into the need for employer branding. Our goal is to increase DELA's visibility in the market so as to fill vacancies faster and attract the right people. DELA vacancies are always advertised internally first, giving personnel the opportunity to take on new challenges within the company.

Meaningful work

DELA cooperative provides meaningful work for the meaningful life of many, working with colleagues who are known for their engagement, integrity and enterprising nature; people who live life to the fullest and make the most of it, driven by their passions and ambitions. Learning together is one of the success factors in this framework. DELA’s culture is pleasant, one in which everyone makes a contribution and feels trusted and interconnected.

Flexible employability

Being both an insurer and a funeral company can make it difficult to offer uniform employment conditions across our cooperative. In addition, flexibility remains very important, especially in the funeral department. While DELA can estimate the number of people who will pass away in a given year, it is impossible to do so for a given day. This is the main reason why our funeral department must be extremely flexible.


Health and illness

One of DELA’s goals is to help every employee remain physically and mentally healthy and capable of quality work, now and in the future. This attention to health is bearing fruit in terms of reducing absence due to illness, which has been falling since mid-2018. The annual figure remains higher than in 2017, however, and a range of programmes are being implemented and developed to remedy this. A working group was started in Belgium in 2018 and a vitality task force set up at DELA Netherlands. A number of monthly themes related to fitness have been deployed in the Netherlands. We still see a high risk of long-term absences, especially among funeral service providers. In this context, we are in the midst of a change of attitude towards disconnecting illness from absence at work: the motto should be that ‘you can’t help falling ill, but you can decide on your absence in consultation with your work'. We are still all too quick to equate illness with staying at home.

Absenteeism due to illness

Absenteeism due to illness
  2018  verschil 2017     
           
Netherlands 7.3% +0,3pp 7.0%    
Belgium 5.2% -0,5pp 5.7%    
Germany 2.4% - -    

Absenteeism is relatively high among staff in the funeral sector, not least because of the difficult nature of the work. Our employees are confronted with a great deal of grief every day and this can be emotionally draining. In addition, working hours are irregular and a certain degree of flexibility is required, risking physical fatigue. These are the reasons why we developed an attendance and reintegration policy this year, a tool to help prevent employee absenteeism as much as possible. It is also a guideline for our managers, whom we encourage to keep in touch with employees who stay at home. Despite all its efforts, DELA Netherlands did not succeed in reducing sick leave – in fact, there was an increase to 7.3% in 2018. Fortunately, things look different in Belgium, where absenteeism fell by 0.5 percentage points to 5.2%.

Diversity

DELA finds it very important that its employees reflect the full diversity of the society in which we operate. There is a relatively high proportion of women working at DELA, more than men. In leadership positions, the 30% minimum rule for women and men is respected everywhere except the Executive Board, all three members of which who are men. As there have been no changes to the Board in recent years, this situation will remain the same in 2018. We also consider it self-evident that DELA as an employer promotes other types of diversity, including hiring employees who have trouble finding suitable work.

Our strategy is anchored in employee involvement, honesty and entrepreneurial spirit. We call this our BIO strategy, based on the initials of the three key values in Dutch and the Greek word for ‘life’. These BIO values are deeply rooted in the cooperative.

Diversity

Number of employees

Diversity
    2018      2017   
  male female total male female total
             
Netherlands            
Senior management 5 2 7 5 2 7
Upper management 21 10 31 20 9 29
Middle Management 27 41 68 25 42 67
Other employees 462 1,001  1463 444  922  1366
Total 515 1,054 1,569 494 975 1,469
             
Belgium            
Senior management 2 1 3 3 1 4
Upper management 9 1 10 7 4 11
Middle management 3 12 15 4 12 16
Other employees 165 212  377 167 203  370
Total 179 226 405 181 220 401

 

 


Leadership

DELA's management strives to achieve a company culture that is as transparent as possible while always upholding common values. We therefore do our best to answer questions and share information among employees in a range of different ways. This takes place both directly – via workshops and meetings with employees – and online, both formally and informally. The shop floor at the offices in the Netherlands and Belgium consists of a single large open space, with managers working among their team. There are no ivory towers at DELA – the meeting rooms are literally transparent, having glass walls.

In Belgium, the role of managers was specifically studied in 2018. Flaws were found in coaching, which led to an additional focus on this topic in 2018. with all managers following a multi-day training course. A Managers’ Day is organised every six weeks, in which HR business partners also take an active part. The result of this extra effort was a noticeable increase in our coaching score.

The number of HR business partners is expanding. They help us better support and guide our managers and employees.

In 2018, DELA Netherlands started a monthly Practical HR meeting for managers, which focuses on all disciplines. It allows every manager to perform a value management assessment and gain insight into their motivation.

Short-cycle management

The short-cycle management (SCM) working method helps us learn from each other and from our customers. In all departments, tasks have daily, weekly and/or monthly starts. In Belgium, this method was started in 2018 and implementation will continue in 2019. In 2018, DELA Netherlands started a pilot in SCM 3.0 which involved looking across the departments and managing them at the level of the entire value chain. We started a pilot for both the insurance and the funeral department, both of which focus on managing the customer process. In October, we took stock and concluded that implementing management across departments takes time. The pilots will therefore be continued in 2019.


DELA Netherlands: Innovation Lab

The Innovation Lab of DELA Netherlands serves as a so-called innovation outpost. An independent and multidisciplinary team of nine individuals focus on developing new products and services in new and existing domains by building, testing and further developing them step-by-step; from concept to prototype and from construction to market introduction. In addition, the Lab focuses on resolving innovation issues from business practice by scouting and working with start-ups that offer relevant solutions. One of the services developed by the team is the ‘Before You Leave’ app. The team is also working on the ’Fello’ app and started a cooperation with social start-up Klup, which brings people over 50 together to participate in activities.

DELA Belgium: your own Harley Davidson

DELA Belgium initiated its first Innovation Award in 2016. Every year, funeral homes are invited to make proposals for innovations or improvements. The Business Development department receives, composes and describes the proposals before allowing all employees to vote for their favourite. The idea that is seen as the most valuable overall wins the Innovation Award. Concepts can be entirely out-of-the-box. One of the results of the competition was a concept involving motorcycle funerals, in which motorcycling buddies could bid farewell to their mate during a final ride-along. DELA purchased a Harley Davidson for this purpose and modified it to carry an urn.


Personal development

DELA Academy
DELA finds it important that employees be given opportunities to develop themselves. The DELA Academy offers a range of training courses every year which are open to all staff.

At DELA Netherlands we concluded the introduction programme by giving new colleagues the opportunity to start setting their own track. A Personal Track can act as a compass in making choices in one’s (working) life.

DELA Belgium received third prize in the Fopas Learning and Development Awards in June. Fopas is a training and competence development foundation for employers and employees.

Works Council

DELA Netherlands and DELA Belgium each have their own works council and their reports on 2018 can be found below.


DELA Netherlands

With no major discussion topics – such as a pensions issue or the cost-saving programme FIT – foreseen for the agenda in advance, 2018 promised to be a quiet year in terms of employee codetermination. Even so, the works council handled 18 requests for advice and 14 requests for consent this year.

Especially when it came to the internationalisation of the real-estate portfolio, the works council also had to keep the cooperative’s interests in mind.

When it came to the requests for consent to stop having Good Friday as a holiday and the changing of the attendance premium into an attendance leave, the works council was happily able to safeguard employees' interests above all.

To discuss all requests for advice and consent and to regularly consult with the Chair of the Executive Board in the presence of a Member of the Supervisory Board, the works council met 16 times. While this might seem like a lot, in the first half of 2018 the works council experimented with more frequent and shorter meetings. The online work and remote meetings required by this method were found to be suboptimal, and so the experiment was terminated in the summer. A search for a training course that would meet the wishes of the works council in this field was made in 2018. In addition to keeping abreast of developments within DELA in a critical fashion, listening to the grassroots, giving informed consent and making informed decisions, the works council also now has an interesting learning objective for 2019.

Works council members in the Netherlands

Works council members in the Netherlands
Name Position
Paul Beaumont member of the works council’s executive committee
Ans van den Boogaard member of the works council
Christa van den Broek member of the works council
Jan Cornelisse member of the works council
Roger Dautzenberg member of the works council
Judith van Gerwen member of the works council’s executive committee
Tanja Harms member of the works council
Petra Jansen member of the works council
Rene Jansen member of the works council’s executive committee
Chantal van Kruijsdijk member of the works council
Norman van der Loop chair of the works council
Ed Michielsen member of the works council
John Mulderij member of the works council’s day executive committee
Anouk van Nunen member of the works council
Maarten Schepen member of the works council
Melanie Willems official secretary

DELA Belgium

In 2018, the works council held 11 regular monthly meetings. Key figures, staff movements and vacancies were discussed as fixed agenda items. The figures and the overview of overtime were considered in detail every quarter. Every six months, the works council looked at how educational leave was developing. One Economic Financial Information (EFI) meeting also took place.

In addition, the following subjects were considered:

  • The employment regulations of the funeral and insurance operations, as well as the holding, were discussed and approved;
  • The follow-up to the transition of the social secretariat was explained;
  • The HR manager explained the new attendance and reintegration policy;
  • The CEO presented the final report of Nova Reperta and the elaboration of this report was also discussed. The director of funeral operations gave a presentation about the 'Samen Sterk' (‘Strong Together’) story;
  • The HR manager presented the HR strategy for 2018;
  • FINC explained the FIT project;
  • The new smartphone scheme was explained, as was DELA’s approach to the related concerns;
  • The works council was informed about a new project focusing on the role of employees. The goal is for every employee to be in charge of their own development.

Works council members in Belgium

Works council members in Belgium
Name Position
Jack van der Putten representing the employer
Ludo Verstraete representing the employer
Bruno Moors substitute member, representing the employer
Martine Verhoeven representing ACV trade union
Kristof de Buck representing ACV trade union
Ronny Bulcke representing ACV trade union
Jean-Marc Chapa representing ACLVB trade union
Jean-Marc Charpentier representing ACLVB trade union

Our environment

The DELA cooperative focuses on continuity of life, aiming to leave an equal or better world for current and future generations. We can achieve the most impact in this context with our corporate social responsibility policy. All options at our disposal as a shareholder are used to exert influence in this respect. DELA also focuses on sustainable and responsible business operations. For example, we have ambitions to reduce our CO2 emissions and those of our funerals and to reduce our paper consumption. At the same time, we look at where we can use our knowledge and specialisation to enter new social domains.

Although the interests of our members and policyholders are paramount for DELA, we realise that the large number of stakeholders means we also have a responsibility to society at large. In this sense, it behoves us to stand up for the interests of others and champion high standards and quality certificates in our industry. The activities of our charity funds contribute to commendable social initiatives in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Reputation

To understand how we fit within the surrounding society, DELA carries out structural reputation research. This shows that the cooperative has built up a good reputation in recent decades and that DELA has widespread name recognition. Our reputation is determined by all the things we show, say and do together. It is our daily behaviour that inspires confidence. A good reputation is of vital importance to us as DELA's raison d’être both as an insurer and funeral service provider is about trust. We periodically measure changes in our reputation in the Netherlands using the RepTrak methodology, a reputation survey developed by the Erasmus University in Rotterdam and the Reputation Institute and used all over the world.

Our reputation in the Netherlands remained stable in 2018. Our score with the general public was 72, just like in 2017, keeping us at the top of financial institutions with a good reputation. Our reputation among members also remained very high, with a score of 79 (80 in 2017) and we are proud of that. Our ambition is to stay at a minimum of 80, although we unfortunately fell just shy of that goal in the year under review. Our reputation among non-members did not change from 2017, remaining at 65. Our score for spontaneous name recognition in Belgium remained stable. This is a very complicated and volatile parameter, however. In 2017, the proportion of people giving an affirmative answer to the question ‘Is DELA the funeral specialist for you?’ rose from 62% to 72%. This percentage was 70% in 2018, a very limited fall.

Reputation

RepTrak (Reputation Institute), pulse score. Indicates reputation in the Netherlands.

Reputation
  2018  difference 2017     
           
Members 79 ‑1  80    
Non-members 65 ‑  65    
Total 72 ‑  72    

General social responsibility

DELA aims to have a far-reaching role in society and to stimulate and promote topics such as connecting generations, life and death, funerals, mourning and a dignified existence across the board. In this context, we undertake a range of activities and support various charities.

Children’s theatre on death, loneliness and bereavement

The Maaslanden crematorium in Nieuwkuijk (NL) hosted the children’s theatre show ‘Any more Questions?’. Performed by youth theatre group TAK, the show covers mature subjects such as death, loneliness and bereavement.  

Mortuary management in the Netherlands

In cooperation with the trade association, DELA took the initiative to tackle problems with mortuary management in care institutions. We proposed a major transformation of the management of mortuaries in care institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes. In the current situation, it is often unclear who commissions the services supplied by the mortuary and who is responsible for the costs. Moreover, there is often a conflict of interest between the mortuary manager and the funeral provider, in which privacy regulations are violated and the freedom of choice for consumers is affected.  Although hospitals and nursing homes aim to focus primarily on the medical care of people, they also have a moral duty to ensure a properly functioning mortuary management, including clarity of the supplied care and costs. DELA proposed to extend the period of necessary care from 3 to 12 hours, giving descendants more space and time to make arrangements.


Sustainable investment

An important component of our business model is the diversified long-term investment of insurance premiums. DELA uses an offensive investment strategy to meet its long-term commitments. This aims to achieve the long-term returns on which the premium is based while also counteracting the inflation in funeral costs. DELA has demonstrated its capacity over recent years to achieve better long-term results and we wish to continue doing so in a socially responsible way.

DELA aims to be one of the most socially involved investors by 2020 and is therefore very particular about our policy in the field of socially responsible investing (SRI). Our SRI policy contains all the guidelines and frameworks with which DELA aims to comply as an investor and is available on our website. DELA has set itself the goal of reaching VBDO’s top 10 sustainable investors benchmark.

Engagement

We refer to the degree of involvement and influence DELA has in the companies in which we invest as our engagement. DELA has its own voting policy. We cast our vote at all shareholder meetings of the companies in our investment portfolio. An active voting policy is part of the dialogue we conduct with the companies concerned. Leading up to shareholder meetings, companies are contacted to share expectations and address issues. A contrary vote (or abstention) is usually explained to the companies concerned after the shareholders' meetings if this is a benefit to dialogue. We also talk to other major investors in companies when we wish to see improvements in the areas of good corporate governance, social issues or the environment. We periodically post these voting and engagement reports on our website. DELA addressed a total of 398 companies in its equity portfolio on engagement topics in 2018 and this had an effect on 163 occasions. A dialogue was sought with 88 companies within the corporate bonds portfolio, which led to 52 positive changes.

Stricter exclusion standards

DELA uses an exclusion list of companies and countries in which we, and our external asset managers, do not invest for social reasons. This includes companies that produce controversial weapons or violate human rights. The definition of involvement in controversial weapons was broadened in 2018: we previously only excluded companies if they made tailored key components for controversial weapons. From 1 October 2018, any companies that provide essential and/or customised parts or services of any kind for these weapons was considered to be involved in their production. This excluded a further 18 companies from our investments and ensured that we are acting in even closer alignment with the spirit of our ideas.

Green bonds

We have continued to invest in green bonds over the course of 2018. The money that companies obtain through the issuance of green bonds can only be used for specific projects of a sustainable nature. Examples include the generation of green power or the construction of a sustainable head office. This means that green bonds have both a financial yield and a social one. In late 2018, DELA had approximately €52 million invested in green bonds (2017: €35 million).

Privacy and data protection

DELA is not just focused on the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (AVG) within our own company. In 2018 we met over 50 companies to discuss ways they were implementing the statutory AVG requirements. A substantial number of companies gave us access to experts who were directly responsible for the protection of privacy. These meetings were informative and detailed. The meetings were in stark contrast to the superficial reporting most companies had on the subject, however. Our engagement meetings built a clear picture of important innovations and best practices, and we will use these findings to formulate goals in the field of corporate reporting. This project is connected to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 16: peace, justice and strong institutions.

International covenant

DELA also complies with the International Responsible Business Conduct (IRBC) covenant in which pension funds and insurers will work with the government, trade unions and social organisations over the next four years to prevent and resolve the negative impact on society and the environment caused by companies in the portfolio. Based on an active voting policy as part of the dialogue with companies, various subjects were discussed in 2018, including:

  • Cooperation against greenhouse emissions: Climate Action 100+, a global initiative between investors launched in December 2017 in which DELA participates. There were 277 meetings in 2018 between investors and the companies involved.
  • Reducing plastic in the oceans: Pollution of the oceans has rapidly become a major issue for companies and consumers alike. DELA supports the UK Plastic Pact and the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, both geared towards developing circular business models for plastic.
  • Demanding accountability for policy against modern slavery: Since the implementation of the British Modern Slavery Act in 2015, many companies have published statements on the subject, which includes issues such as forced labour, child labour and human trafficking. In 2018, we had meetings with 16 British companies. As an investor, we believe it is our role to hold companies accountable for their obligations and encourage them to uphold a strong policy to reduce modern slavery risks and improve the information supply so stakeholders can be sure that sufficient effective measures have been taken.
  • Responsible pricing of medication: The goal of this project is to stimulate companies in the pharmaceutical industry to develop a transparent and responsible pricing policy which not only focuses on profits, but also on the interests of patients and society.

Responsible operational management

Fingerprint issue

Although DELA rarely ends up in the news for negative reasons, this was unfortunately the case in October. Dutch television programme Radar accused DELA in the strongest terms of taking the fingerprints of deceased individuals without permission for commercial gain. This was followed by an allegation from two anonymous sources who claimed that DELA employees or external parties working for DELA falsified fingerprints.

Fingerprinting method
DELA adjusted its fingerprinting method on 1 September 2018. The cooperative had been receiving regular reactions from relatives that it was a shame that fingerprints of their deceased loved ones had not been made – fingerprints can only be taken shortly after death and this was not done if no next of kin were present. From 1 September, DELA therefore decided to start taking prints in these situations and to discuss the matter with the relatives later. This procedure was designed with the best of intentions and due care. We see every day that something tangible, such as a fingerprint, can help relatives keep the memory of a loved one alive.

As soon as we received customer complaints, we eliminated this procedure and went back to only taking fingerprints on request and with the express permission of relatives. We were very unhappy to imagine that someone would think that we would do this for commercial gain. DELA is a cooperative of members and commerce is not the most important thing in our work. We have apologised and addressed this matter in our publications.

Allegations of falsification found to be groundless
Two anonymous sources claimed that DELA employees or external parties working for DELA forged fingerprints. Our reaction was one of shock. The allegation was painful not only for relatives of deceased individuals, but for everyone who works at or with DELA. An independent investigation was launched to remove any uncertainty. After more than three months of research, no incidents with fingerprints were found, confirming what we already thought to be true. The investigation found no facts to substantiate the statements made by Radar and the two anonymous people in the broadcast. We never doubted our integrity, but were pleased to see it confirmed by the investigation. In the meantime, we were happy to receive heart-warming support from many people, including members and relatives of people who have passed away.

Reducing our footprint (CO2 emissions)

DELA Netherlands aims to reduce the CO2 emissions we produce via gas and electricity consumption in our offices and our lease vehicles by 50 percent in 2021 compared to 2014. We aim to be climate-neutral in this respect by 2050. Climate-neutral means that we no longer produce any net CO2 emissions. To achieve this, we are following three tracks: making savings, increasing sustainability and carbon offsetting. We also aim for a 50 percent reduction in 2021 compared to 2014 with regard to CO2 emissions caused by commuting and business travel.

Energy savings
Firstly, we aim to save as much energy as possible, for instance by realising technical improvements such as light sensors and more efficient installations. It is also important to change the behaviour of our employees. A second step in reducing our footprint is the use of sustainable energy. We already purchased green electricity and since 2018 all electricity consumed in the Netherlands originates from Dutch solar and wind power. As it is not currently possible to avoid all emissions, we will use CO2 offsetting and aim to keep the percentage we need to compensate as low as possible. Offsetting is achieved by investing in third-party initiatives that realise CO2 reductions; for instance, by planting trees or investing in (international) sustainable energy projects. Offsetting is only an option once we have reduced CO2 production as much as possible.

In 2018, DELA Cooperative opened the doors of its thoroughly renovated and far more sustainable head office in Eindhoven (NL). The ground floor includes a publicly accessible restaurant.

Sustainable construction
When building and renovating our locations we take the sustainability of the buildings and interiors into account wherever possible. This ranges from the use of sustainable materials and more efficient installations to ensuring sufficient daylight for employees. For the renovation of the head office, we received a BREEAM certification. BREEAM-NL is a tool for the integrated measurement and assessment of new buildings, existing buildings and demolition projects.

CO2 emissions by category

In tonnes. Results of DELA Netherlands, including funeral activities

CO2 emissions by category
  2018  difference 2017     
           
Offices 311  ‑13% 359     
Funeral homes and crematoriums 3,907  ‑11% 4,370     
Funeral transport 310  ‑2% 316     
Lease vehicles 1,541  ‑3% 1,589     
Business travel 361  ‑22% 465     
Commuting 878  ‑19% 1,087     
Total 7,308  ‑11% 8,186     

CO2 emissions by scope

In tonnes. Results of DELA Netherlands, including funeral activities

CO2 emissions by scope
  2018  difference 2017     
           
Scope 1          
Gas consumption 4.133* ‑1% 4,183     
Funeral transport 310  ‑2% 316     
Lease vehicles 1,541  ‑3% 1,589     
Other 82  0% 82     
Total 6,066  ‑2% 6,170     
           
Scope 2          
Electricity ‑  ‑100% 625     
Heating 0%    
Total ‑100% 628     
           
Scope 3          
Commuting 878  ‑19% 1,087     
Business travel 361  ‑22% 465     
Total 1,239  ‑20% 1,552     

* Estimated, not yet known

Sustainable procurement

The Procurement department in the Netherlands has initiated various developments to contribute to our sustainability goals. This includes a stronger and more explicit focus on sustainability aspects (people, planet, profit) in our sustainable procurement policy. This means we can demand suppliers and their products and services meet certain sustainability requirements. In the future, we will also increase cooperation with suppliers to realise new sustainable products.

Final Footprint Challenge

To realise sustainable funeral services, the funeral sector requires more sustainable innovation. This is why, as an industry, we aim to stimulate the development of new knowledge, products and services. And we can’t achieve this alone; we need to work with others within and outside of the sector to increase the sustainability of the entire market together. This is one of the reasons why DELA took the initiative to establish the Final Footprint Challenge in which the funeral sector asked everyone to consider what a sustainable funeral might look like by 2030. We would all like to leave a better world for current and future generations and making funerals fully sustainable can play a crucial role. Some 37 parties registered for the Final Footprint Challenge, all of whom contributed a solution for realising sustainable funerals. Ten were chosen to participate in a boot camp after which the winner was selected and is being supported in the further development of the product.

Reducing paper consumption

DELA Netherlands aims to have reduced its paper consumption by 50% in 2020 compared to 2014. Paperless working means that we work digitally wherever we can. This applies to the use of paper in the offices, which we were able to reduce by 16% compared to 2017, as well as in client communication. We hope to achieve this via digitisation, meaning the increased use of laptops, tablets and smartphones. Although the tools to make this happen are being facilitated, another significant aspect is employee behaviour. DELA Belgium started a 'print on demand' project via a marketing publish site, stopping unnecessary stock from being built up and print materials from being thrown out.


Charities

DELA was established based on a deep-rooted social engagement which is still part of the company today. This is why the DELA charity funds in the Netherlands and Belgium support social initiatives. By doing something good for other people together, we aim to make life more meaningful.

Since 2014, the DELA charity fund supports people with a disability who volunteer to help others under the ‘Unlimited’ theme. To enforce this theme, we have also established an annual incentive award. ‘The Golden Venus de Milo’ is awarded to the most inspiring Dutch person man with a disability who also helps others. Disabled people give their own life more meaning when they support others while also being of significant value to society. We also worked on a parallel theme in 2018 that involves connecting the generations.

DELA Belgium chose to use financial support from the DELA charity funds to help Boven de Wolken (Above the Clouds) expand to Wallonia. Under the name Au delà des nuages, the foundation provides a website with a network of photographers who are willing to do a professional photo shoot of deceased children free of charge. DELA also launched a grieving app for children in Belgium: ‘My memories of you’ (Mijn herinnering aan jou in Dutch and Je ne t’oublierai jamais in French).

The DELA charity funds were used differently in Belgium in 2018 than had previously been the case. By spending more on one good cause instead of spreading funds around, we hope to achieve more and make a greater difference.

Stichting Handicamp

Stichting Handicamp aims to show that camping is possible with any handicap. During the annual camping weekend in 2018 in Schaijk, Marc de Hond (TV presenter, businessman, author, theatre maker and former player in the Dutch wheelchair basketball team) met with participants to ask them about their experiences. Not having to explain anything is a major aspect of feeling like oneself during the camping weekend. As many participants have limited means, the foundation is fully reliant on sponsoring and donations. The organisers were therefore delighted with the contribution of the DELA charity fund.

Above the Clouds

Boven de Wolken (Above the Clouds) is a volunteer organisation in which professional photographers capture subtle images of recently deceased children (‘star children’) free of charge and create lasting memories for their parents. The initiative was exclusive to the Flanders region until last year but when we saw the role these images were playing in helping parents process these deaths, the DELA Belgium charity fund decided to extend this unique initiative to everyone in Belgium and enabled the organisation to expand to Wallonia. This financial support enabled the French-speaking organisation to start in 2018 under the name ‘Au dela des nuages’.


DomusDELA

DELA is currently renovating and redeveloping the Mariënhage cloister in Eindhoven (NL). Mariënhage is a place with a special cultural and historical value to the city of Eindhoven, both because of its architecture and its rich history. Underneath the cloister, for instance, are the remains of the old castle of Eindhoven, dating back to the 13th century. The new destination, called DomusDELA, will be a place for meetings, connections and reflection. It includes two ceremony facilities, a congress hotel with supporting hospitality & meeting facilities, a restaurant, a new outdoor area and the cloister gardens. The new purpose of the cloister itself has yet to be determined.

Several information days were held for neighbourhood residents in 2018. A medieval cloister chapel wall was found during the renovation activities that had been hidden by another wall for over a century. This new discovery was made accessible to the public on Open Monument Day in September. In December, we reached an agreement with the Henri van Abbe Foundation on the construction measures for the Paterskerk church, bringing a halt to the court appeal process and allowing the renovations and refurbishment to get underway. The reopening is planned for 13 November 2019, the birth date of Saint Augustine.   

The Mariënhage area in Eindhoven (NL) before its transformation into DomusDELA.

Prospects

DELA will continue to grow, both in the number of insured and in terms of turnover. This makes our cooperative stronger. The core of our service provision – insuring and arranging funerals – will be placed in a broader context. After our start in the German life insurance market, we’ll introduce a funeral insurance in kind policy in 2019. We will also be investing in systems, processes and people in 2019 to ensure we stay ahead in the digital world, and work on strengthening our market share in the Dutch and Belgian funeral markets, offering our services to everyone, whether insured with us or not.

Change programmes focus on IT and innovation

DELA started implementing a number of large change programmes in the Netherlands in 2018, including replacing the applications for the back office. IT and innovation will also be major focal points in Belgium in the coming year. In addition to the higher IT expenditure involved, this demands a major expansion in the business to design and implement these trajectories in a controlled way. There is a much greater need for process managers and business analysts/consultants (among others). We must take into account that it will take at least three years to successfully finalise these trajectories and that additional funds are required. Although this will be at the expense of our operational result in the coming years, the changes will benefit customer services and costs will be recovered in a reasonable term.

Digitisation impacts the entire organisation. To work efficiently, you must know what you hope to achieve, why you wish to achieve it and how to get there. This is a process that business and IT must work through together. In 2018, we learned a lot.

New corporate campaign

After a period of relative quiet, DELA Netherlands is starting a new corporate campaign in 2019 with a primary goal to reach people who are less familiar with DELA. A strong reputation eventually results in more clients and a greater attraction to the tight labour market. DELA obviously wishes to stay focused on providing excellent services and continue to improve. We will work hard to further increase our net promotor scores and Great Place to Work rating.  

Focus on growth

DELA expects to expand further, especially in Belgium. For Germany we are raising the bar higher by connecting to a large group of intermediaries.

Extra marketing efforts should ensure growth in the private funeral sector in the Netherlands, while growth in Belgium will mainly be realised via takeovers. This is also necessary as gross margins in the funeral business are under pressure and the extra costs in the field of IT and internal management must be recovered.

Diversified investment portfolio

With regard to investments, our main spearhead is transforming the current Dutch real estate portfolio into a more diversified international real estate portfolio.

Word of thanks

The Executive Board thanks all stakeholders for their involvement in DELA and would again like to congratulate our employees for attaining first place in the Netherlands and sixth place in Belgium in the Great Place to Work evaluation. DELA is a people business. And although we are increasingly focused on digitisation, we do so in order to provide our members and clients with even more personal quality and custom services. It’s DELA’s employees who realise and represent our quality. The fact that they do so with such a level of satisfaction, as shown in the employee survey, makes us both proud and confident for the future.

Eindhoven, 17 April 2019

DELA Cooperative

The Executive Board

E. Doeve MAIA
J.A.M. van der Putten MMO
J.L.R. van Dijk RA