December 05, 2019 Webranking

Belgian homepages set a standard the rest of their sites don’t meet

 By Timmy Fredriksson

The results from the 13 largest Belgian companies in Webranking by Comprend have arrived and they show a slight decrease in score overall: this year the average score is 41.7 points (out of 100) compared to last year's 43.7. When taking a closer look, we can see that the homepages of Belgian corporate websites have undergone significant improvement in delivering the most sought-after content to their stakeholders, but it is elsewhere throughout the sites that the availability of information is not up to scratch. In particular, Belgian career and IR sections need to provide a better service to jobseekers and the capital market.

Clear homepages serve immediate needs

The homepage is often the first page a visitor encounters and should therefore contain a clear selection of the most important content for stakeholder groups. This is something that Belgian companies clearly understand; financial reports and press releases, amongst other elements, are generally staples of their corporate homepages. This information is presented to the extent that they outperform the European average in terms of stakeholder fulfilment (average score divided by maximum score). The Belgian average fulfilment is 68% compared to Europe's 58%, reinforcing that a visitor to a Belgian homepage can expect to be met by a superior amount of key content than a visitor to a homepage elsewhere across the 500 largest companies on the continent.

Careers are lagging behind the European average

Overall, the career section is something that requires attention from the Belgian companies. While the average fulfilment of the most important career content amongst Europe's 500 largest companies is 46%, the Belgian average is just 34%. As a result, the 13 largest companies in Belgium might be missing out on great talents by failing to provide enough content on their websites. For example, two important pieces of content according to jobseekers is information about what it's like working at the company and information about compensation and benefits. Providing this would give potential employees a good understanding of what their future career could be like, outside of the work tasks.

Jobseekers can't contact Belgian companies

To enable jobseekers to fully understand everything about a potential new job, questions need to be answered. Since information is on the scarce side in Belgian career sections, HR contacts - both general and per job vacancy - could be greatly helpful in answering questions from jobseekers. This year's ranking has shown that none of the Belgian companies provide contact information. Neither does any of the ranked companies provide other lines of communication to a HR representative, such as chat bots or the possibility to ask these kinds of questions on social media. This is a great opportunity though: the first company to provide this information could be seen as a progressive early-adopter amongst the Belgians.

The Belgian leader for providing important careers content among the 13 ranked companies is UCB. With a score of 8.6 out of 13, they're one of the few Belgian companies to perform above the European average. They provide information both on compensation and benefits and a satisfactory amount of content on what it's like working at the company.

IR should still be a key focus area

Just like last year, a key focus area for the Belgian companies should be improving their IR content, as their average fulfilment is a fairly meagre 24%. They're not alone in this predicament, though, as the European average is only 27%. Similarly to last year, the most urgent priority when building up the key content would be forward-looking statements such as megatrends that could affect the business, as well as financial targets and outlooks. These remain some of the most highly valued information items for capital market professionals.

Don't let debts be forgotten

In our latest capital market survey, it was clear that debt information is becoming increasingly important in uncertain times. Information regarding bonds, credit ratings, and debt ratios hasn't been as important as it is now in many years. For the most part, the Belgians are on top of this. Their debt content is on average slightly better than the European average, with a fulfilment of 36%. Where they're trailing behind is in visualising their debt maturity structure and providing their different sources for funding. These are both important aspects in helping investors to make solid assessments.

Out of the Belgian companies, KBC Group stands out as best in class when it comes to investor relations. Beating the runner-up with almost two points, KBC Group has a score of 8.5 points out of 14.

Belgium's top performers and climbers

Last year's second placed company, Ahold Delhaize, can be found in third place this year with a score of 54.5 points. The new name in second place, Solvay, is also one of this year's climbers in the Belgian list. With an increase of 9.5 points to 59 in total, they share the biggest climber title with Ackermans & Van Haaren, who also increased their score by 9.5 points to 32.2. Standing firm in their place as the overall winner for the fifth year in row is KBC Group, with a score of 61.5 points.

RankCompanyScore (out of 100)
1KBC Group61.5
2Solvay59.0
3Ahold Delhaize54.5
4UCB53.9
5Umicore52.1
6Galapagos42.2
7Anheuser-Busch Inbev38.9
8Ageas37.3
9Proximus Group34.4
10Ackermans & Van Haaren32.2
11GBL (Groupe Bruxelles Lambert)28.7
12Colruyt26.0
13Argenx21.8

See the Belgian results

Helena Wennergren

Head of Research

helena.wennergren@comprend.com

+46 70 971 12 10

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