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Chief Executive Officer's Review

Dear Shareholder,

I was delighted to be appointed Chief Executive Officer of Smith+Nephew in November, succeeding Namal Nawana. The Company was already well known to me as I was a Non-Executive Director, but since taking on my new role it has become even clearer that this is a great Company with exciting prospects.

People are the backbone of our businesses. I have visited many of our sites around the world and been impressed with the calibre of our employees and their commitment to our business and customers. Their pride in the work we do, the difference we make, and our purpose of Life Unlimited is clear to see. Our culture pillars of Care, Collaboration and Courage are things I believe in strongly, particularly as they relate to valuing diversity and being inclusive. Our new brand identity, evident in this Annual Report, is an outward expression of our renewed purpose and vitality.

As a Non-Executive Director I fully endorsed our strategy and the move to a franchise operating model, changes put in place by Namal. Their impact was important in delivering the improved performance in 2019, they stand us in good stead for 2020 and beyond, and we intend to build on them.

Positive 2019 performance

The Group delivered good growth in 2019, with revenue up 4.8% on a reported basis and 4.4% on an underlying basis. Highlights included the double-digit growth from Sports Medicine Joint Repair and China. I was equally pleased with our progress turning around franchises that have underperformed in the past, such as Arthroscopic Enabling Technologies.

We built momentum across the year, and at the same time were able to continue to invest behind our commercial teams and acquisitions to support sustained success over the medium-term. We launched a number of important new products, and brought new technologies and expertise into the business through acquisitions. You will find more detail on all these areas in this report.

The operating profit margin of 15.9% reflects restructuring and acquisition costs. The trading profit margin of 22.8% reflects savings realised under the Accelerating Performance and Execution (APEX) programme offset by re-investment in the business, including more in R&D, and dilution from acquisitions.

2020 priorities

2019 showed that we are on the right path. In 2020 our emphasis is on sustaining the positive momentum.

Our first priority remains commercial execution. All of our franchises are expected to build on 2019, with additional benefits coming from cross franchise opportunities such as the growing ambulatory surgery segment in the US, our strength in the Emerging Markets, and bringing greater rigour to product launches and portfolio management.

Second, we are renewing our commitment to innovation and to bringing the best technology to customers. This means taking our R&D programmes up a level. There are a number of important launches planned for the year, including a new robotics platform. We will also continue to bring new technologies in through
acquisitions, such as Tusker Medical, which completed in January 2020 and which gives us a unique technology in the ENT segment, an important area of opportunity for us. We plan to invest more in R&D, both to accelerate the cadence of launches, and to position us at the forefront of converging surgical technologies in areas such as digital health and regenerative medicine.

Third, we see opportunities to drive excellence across our operational backbone. These include operating an optimal facility footprint, driving lean manufacturing methods across our network, identifying opportunities within our supply chain to deliver world-class service levels, and building an ever-more efficient support infrastructure.

We also believe that we can be more responsive to the challenges facing society in areas where we can make a meaningful difference, and have updated our Sustainability Strategy for 2020 and beyond.

Enhancing stakeholder value

2019 has been one of the most successful years in Smith+Nephew’s history and I congratulate and thank our employees for this. However, I have been clear that it is only the start of our transformation. I want us to consistently deliver to high standards, becoming one of the most innovative and fastest growing companies in our medical technology space.

Achieving this requires us to be more agile so that we can move faster and become easier to do business with from our customers’ perspective. In this way we will enhance our value to all our stakeholders over the medium-term and help transform the quality of life for more patients.

Yours sincerely,
Roland Diggelmann
Chief Executive Officer