The Company is committed to positively impacting the communities and local areas in which it operates. One key area is through providing employment opportunities and, as referenced in Our People on page 46 of the 2019 Annual Report, the Company actively recruited in all departments throughout 2019, with the Company’s businesses predominately recruiting from within their local areas. The Company’s new regional distribution centre on a brownfield site in Ipswich is scheduled to become operational during 2020, and in addition to rehousing existing businesses in a modernised facility is expected to create a significant number of new jobs in the local area.
The Company actively encourages each of its businesses to build strong relationships with the communities in which they operate. As part of this focus, the Company has in place a Charitable Donations Policy which supports locally-focused charitable giving and community involvement by each of the Company’s businesses, thereby allowing local communities to benefit directly from the Company’s activities in their area. Charitable giving is undertaken through both monetary donations and donations of floorcovering products to identified local good causes, with recipients during the year including a local community hub and an elderly people welfare association.
Monetary donations made during the year in support of charitable causes in local communities, nationally, and those of interest to employees amounted to £12,011 (2018: £24,172). This included a donation of £9,360 to Pennies from Heaven on behalf of the Company and its employees. Under the Pennies from Heaven payroll giving scheme, of which the Company has been a member since 2011, the Company matches the charitable donation made by its employees.
The Company is a corporate member of The Furniture Makers’ Company, the furnishing industry’s charity, and in 2019 signed up to support their ‘One Step at a Time’ campaign aimed at ensuring that all people working within the wider industry, as well as retirees and former workers, are aware of the charity’s welfare support in times of financial need.
While the Company positively impacts its local communities through employment, community involvement and charitable giving, it has a substantial understanding of the impact its day-to-day transport operations have on the local communities it serves and is committed to reducing this impact.
As detailed in the Environment section on page 50 of the 2019 Annual Report, the Company has in place a number of actions to reduce its transport-related emissions, which form a key component of its efforts to mitigate its direct impact on the environment. These actions have and will continue to reduce the Company’s impact on air pollution in the areas it operates, while the action specifically focused on more effective delivery fleet utilisation will additionally help alleviate traffic congestion in its delivery areas.
As part of its overall commitment to lessening the impact of its transport operations on local communities, operating more efficiently, and to achieving the highest standards of H&S management, the Company is focused on pedestrian safety and reducing the potential for road traffic incidents. Initiatives introduced in this area including making further applications for FORS accreditations, support of ‘Roadwatch’, and continuing to embed H&S culture across the business.