Annual Report 2021

tomorrow's world

Why and who we are

welcome to (y)our world

The CFE Group, which is active in the areas of marine engineering, construction and real estate development, is a major player in the transformation of our living environments, our cities, our communities. Our commitment: to invent the future by wholeheartedly accepting our social responsibility and maximising our positive impact. This annual report presents and clarifies this vision, which is illustrated by our credo “Together shaping tomorrow’s world”.


marine engineering

Avec une flotte de plus de cent navires dans le monde, DEME est l’un des leaders internationaux de l’ingénierie maritime. Ses quatre divisions – dragage, offshore, environnement et infrastructure – répondent à des besoins essentiels de notre société et de notre planète. En proposant des solutions toujours plus innovantes, DEME pose les bases d’un avenir durable. 


real estate

Développer des projets qui définiront les contours des villes de demain, inventer les nouvelles formes de vivre-ensemble, imaginer les espaces de cohabitation du futur... Au travers de son activité de promotion immobilière, BPI se positionne comme un acteur majeur du changement en défendant des valeurs fondamentales : durabilité, haute qualité architecturale, respect de l’environnement et engagement sociétal.



Au cœur de nos villes, CFE Contracting transforme notre cadre de vie et bâtit les infrastructures indispensables de notre quotidien. Construction, Multitechnique et Rail & Utilities sont les trois divisions de ce pôle qui se place systématiquement sous le double signe de la durabilité et de l’innovation afin de relever les challenges contemporains. Des projets d’avenir au service d’un monde en constante évolution.

In the heart of our cities, CFE Contracting transforms our living environment and builds the essential infrastructures of our daily life. Construction, Multitechnics and Rail & Utilities are the three divisions of this pole, which is consistently dedicated to sustainability and innovation in order to address today’s challenges. Future projects for a world in constant development.

With a worldwide fleet of over one hundred vessels, DEME is one of the international leaders in marine engineering. Its four activity segments - dredging, environment, offshore and infrastructure - meet the essential needs of our society and our planet. By offering ever more innovative solutions, DEME lays the foundations for a sustainable future. 

Developing the projects that will define the outlines of tomorrow’s cities, inventing new forms of living together, conceiving the co-living spaces of the future, etc. Through its real estate development activity, BPI Real Estate positions itself as a major driver of change by defending basic values: sustainability, high architectural quality, respect for the environment, and community involvement.

CEo's message

(Y)our future begins with sustainable thinking

Through its various business lines, the CFE Group plays an essential role in the evolution of our environment, in a broad sense, and of our living together. A social responsibility that the three divisions – DEME, CFE Contracting and BPI Real Estate – take to heart, as evidenced by their sustainability commitments and their desire to build a better future for all. A look back at the year 2021, which was marked by reconquest and transformation.

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key figures

YeaR at a glance

2021, a significant growth

In 2021, CFE recorded a very strong growth in its revenue and its results while the pandemic situation has not yet stabilised. All the segments and divisions contributed to this remarkable performance.
The order book once again reached a record level at no less than 7.5 billion euros, thanks in particular to several exceptional orders in offshore wind in the United States.
Significantly lower financial debt completes this extremely positive picture.
Continuing operations include the activities in real estate development, construction, multi-technics and rail, reported an operating margin of 5.15% and a net profit of 39.5 million euros, a level never reached before. Equity increased significantly: +40% in one year. 

Fabien De Jonge
CFO of the CFE Group

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Employees, a central value

”After a difficult year in 2020, marked by the health crisis, 2021 allowed us to get back on track with our strategic objectives in the area of human resources. We have worked hard to redefine our procedures by focusing on the needs of our employees. Digitalisation has been a key element, with a series of new applications to facilitate leave requests or recruitment. Investment in training has been stepped up, particularly around leadership and sustainability. We want to help our talents to face today’s challenges and we have therefore laid the foundations for the future CFE Academy, which will be launched during 2022. The human aspect remains at the centre of our concerns, so we have also developed a teleworking framework that allows us to meet the current expectations of our colleagues. Our commitment to eco-responsibility is more than ever affirmed with the start of the renewal of our vehicle fleet. We have already significantly increased orders for hybrid and electric vehicles and are aiming for 50% green vehicles in the short term." 

Valérie Van Brabant
Chief Human Resources Officer


Working safely

The objective of zero accidents/zero incidents remains the central goal of CFE and is supported by the HSEQ (Health, Safety, Environment, Quality) board, with a focus on all the elements of well-being and prevention that are inseparable from genuine safety for everyone at all times in the workplace. To this end, we have established clear priorities that are translated into concrete actions. After defining a common vision and policy for all entities and introducing unified reporting of HSEQ statistics, we were able to develop a four-pronged approach in 2021: developing and implementing an alcohol and drug strategy, increasing the number of reports of high-risk acts or situations, launching a campaign on Life Saving Rules focusing on working at heights, and setting up a Safety Awareness training programme for management. Prevention and awareness remain essential. The 24% increase in the number of pro-active reports of acts or situations at risk compared to 2019 is evidence of a good collective awareness that forms the basis of our safety policy.

Digitalisation and innovation go hand in hand

“Digitisation plays an increasingly important role in our sector in general and for our Group in particular. Digitisation enables us to respond correctly and efficiently to current and future challenges for all our activities. In 2021, we were able to make significant progress with a number of initiatives. Firstly, we launched the ‘Search It’ platform for construction companies. Search It contributes greatly to collaboration in our group because it is an umbrella knowledge database that allows us to share our procedures and expertise with each other in a simple manner. In addition, in 2021 we put all our efforts into analysing and preparing our future ERP solution within the Fture program. This builds the foundations of our organisation and allows us to look with a clear view to a ‘future proof’ integrated management software package, for which implementation is scheduled to start at the end of 2022. The evolution of our digital tools for the human resources departments in the Group has also started. After a joint analysis, a choice was made for the recruitment application that will be implemented for the entire group in 2022. At the same time, we will be looking for a common platform with which e-learning and development can be offered efficiently across the Group. Besides all this digitalisation, innovation is also at the heart of our philosophy. We have made all the preparations to launch the ‘Innovate it’ platform in 2022 where we can involve everyone in our innovation ideas while also keeping an overview of what is going on.”

Hans Van Dromme 
Chief Information Officer 


“Since 2019, the CFE Group has been working to clarify its own sustainable development objectives based on the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Group has a clear desire to emphasise sustainable aspects both in the construction process and in the projects themselves. This has made it possible to define a policy structured around ESG which has already found its first concrete forms in 2020 with, in particular, the creation of a dashboard of non-financial indicators and, for CFE Contracting, much more regular reporting (4x/year instead of 1x/year). Several pilot projects allow the monitoring of the most complex themes such as the transport of materials, circularity or the protection of the environment. Each indicator ensures regular monitoring of the priority objectives set. The pandemic crisis has confirmed the relevance of the latter, in particular the acceleration of digitalisation as well as the focus on operational excellence which have proven to be essential for the continuation of activities on site, in offices or in homeworking.” 

Isabelle De Bruyne 
Chief Sustainability Officer 

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how we shape the world

The strength of our assets and our constant reflection on the Sustainable Development Goals allow the CFE Group to have a positive long-term impact on the world.

for the future

The fight against global warming is a major challenge of our time. The CFE Group is fully aware of the current challenges, and fully assumes its role as builder of a responsible future for all. Whether through the development of pioneering projects, the use of sustainable materials or the design of environmentally-friendly buildings, everything is done to be part of a dynamic for the future. The reduction, recycling and reuse of waste, the control of energy consumption, water management: there are so many concrete areas of action that support this very long-term vision.

Be a great place to work

Providing a safe and fulfilling work environment. Enabling everyone to develop their talents, and to progress in their careers. Providing adequate training opportunities for all, within a caring environment. These values are essential for the CFE Group, which highlights the collegiality of its teams through the concept of ‘Togetherness’. Well-being at work, health and safety are, of course, fundamental, in particular in the context of the health crisis that has strongly marked the past year, but the CFE Group goes further in its desire for inclusion and empowerment within all its entities.

towards climate neutrality

Two years ago, CFE Contracting and BPI Real Estate initiated a new sustainability policy based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, following the long-standing work carried out by DEME. Carbon neutrality is one of the major points of this strategy. After the analysis and establishment of the relevant KPIs, 2021 was the year of implementation, with action plans initiated in all the entities, as well as a clear ambition to reduce direct carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. The commitment of the CFE Group is reflected in the desire to do everything possible to reduce the impacts from the early design stage of the projects. 

offer innovative solutions

Innovating in order to move forward, to progress, to respond even better to the needs of a world that is constantly evolving, but also innovating as a contribution to living together in a sustainable manner. By adopting new processes on its construction sites, imagining the housing options of the future, and developing technological solutions to environmental challenges, the CFE Group is asserting its desire to be a conscious and responsible protagonist in the construction of our future together. This also requires a reasoned governance and increased digitalisation of operating methods.

a partner for change

The CFE Group systematically seeks to put itself at the service of the community, and to use the know-how and the skills of its teams to further improve our living together. The strengthening of social links, the consideration of environmental issues and the integration of new technologies are all elements present in each project, with the goal of transforming our living environment in a positive manner. The infrastructures created by the different entities literally shape our daily lives. The CFE Group is positioning itself as a partner of change, in both the short and the long term.


concrete achievements

The sustainable philosophy of the CFE Group is reflected in hundreds of concrete achievements on a daily basis.
Flagship projects or global solutions, here are the most telling examples.

Show allSustainableDigitalMarineUrban


Large-scale circularity

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Energy under control

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An ecological giant of the seas

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Wind power, the Atlantic force

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Rent-A-Port Green Energy

Electrical storage: a step ahead

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A wooden construction in the capital

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Hornsea Two

Renewable energy on the move

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The future of living together

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Grand Poste

A new lease of life for Liege

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Enves – ETCS2

Belgium on track

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Red Cross

CFE solidarity

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