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Stakeholder Interaction and Engagement

Workforce Engagement

The Company has introduced a number of new forms of workforce engagement over the last few years which significantly increase the channels available to the Company to test ideas and actively seek feedback, making changes and improvements in response. Key new engagement activities are listed below, with these supplementing enhanced policies and procedures and regular interaction via various communication channels, all of which are designed to further improve the working environment. Further detail is given within the Our People section on page 46 of the 2019 Annual Report.

  • Senior management team events, with a range of presentations from the Executive Team covering operational, financial, health and safety, marketplace and strategic matters. The events include Q&A sessions, and a follow-up feedback survey is issued to all participants. Feedback received to date has resulted in enhancements being made to presentational content and event formats, and has proven this form of engagement to be well received.
  • Departmental group meetings, with members of specific departments such as sales, transport and warehouse from across the Company’s businesses coming together to discuss matters specific to their job function and future developments, with the opportunity to share their views and have input into decision-making.
  • Non-Executive Director visits to businesses as part of a comprehensive induction programme and an ongoing mechanism for Board members to observe operations and listen to views and feedback directly from employees across a wide cross-section of the workforce.
  • Employee Forum launched in 2019 and acting as the formal workforce advisory panel to the Board, its responsibilities include providing feedback from employees to be considered by the Board across a broad spectrum of matters. The Forum consists of elected employees from across the workforce alongside the Chief Executive and the Non-Executive Director holding the position as Chair of the Remuneration Committee.
  • Values and Behaviours workshops, held with 135 employees across several business locations during 2019, with the aim of collaboratively developing a bottom-up set of values and behaviours to subsequently be communicated and embedded across the Company.
  • Employee surveys, which were introduced in 2017 and are held across the whole workforce, with a pulse-check survey taking place in 2020. The surveys are instrumental in helping to monitor and continue to develop a positive workplace culture. Activities and actions as a result of feedback from previous surveys continue throughout the year, and have included improvements to the CRM system and commercial vehicles drivers app, and the introduction of team and social events.
  • Employee Champions, introduced following the first employee survey in 2017, are now an integral part of the local businesses. Regular meetings taking place where champions and management meet to discuss and implement actions to improve the working environment.

Supplier Engagement

The Company engages with suppliers through a variety of means including meetings, presentations, collaborative trade show events, reviews of practices and questionnaires, including in the area of ensuring a supply chain free from slavery and human trafficking. The Company has actively sought to increase its partnership approach with suppliers in 2019, including members of the Executive Team undertaking a more comprehensive schedule of meetings with suppliers with which to obtain feedback and which supplements the suppliers’ frequent interaction with the Company’s delegated buyers.

The Company shares market feedback and sales performance data to suppliers allowing them to adjust their ranges and production activities as appropriate, and actively supports suppliers in new product development and the marketing of innovative and sustainable products, an example of which is given in the Environment section on page 50 of the 2019 Annual Report.

Two further engagement initiatives instigated in 2019 are given below, both of which have increased the collaborative approach between the Company and its suppliers.

  • Brexit letter, issued to suppliers during 2019, with the purpose of confirming how the Company and the supplier would support each other around the potential impact of Brexit and preserve business continuity.
  • Inventory management project, which the Company is undertaking to improve product availability and stock-turn, has resulted in the Company working more closely with suppliers to improve production scheduling and buying, and increase the efficiency of both parties.

Customer Engagement

Customer relationships and their performance are integral to the success of the Company, and many different touch-points are maintained with customers. Customers have regular interaction with sales representatives, delivery drivers and customer service teams, all of which provide a method to gain feedback which is then utilised to improve customer service levels. The Company has increased its engagement with customers via formalised customer surveys and enhanced e-commerce support through the provision of a relaunched e-commerce platform, detailed below.

  • Customer surveys, introduced in 2019 and to be continued in 2020 to a wider audience. The customer surveys have been instigated to gain greater insight into customers’ requirements and preferences, with the resulting analysis to be used to enhance the customer service proposition.
  • E-commerce support, with an improved transactional B2B website relaunched in March 2020. The updated website will support customers in more efficient ordering and account management, and has a new feedback portal direct to the relevant team members servicing the customer.

Shareholder and Investment Community Engagement

Clear and concise regulatory announcements and regular interaction with shareholders and the wider investment community is essential for their understanding of the Company and its performance, and evaluation of the Company as an appropriate investment. The Company proactively offers meetings to its largest shareholders and analyst community, primarily following the publication of its interim and final results, while also encouraging the investment community to visit its main operating locations to review operations first-hand and meet additional members of the workforce. Feedback is actively sought, either directly or via the Company’s brokers, and then considered and monitored against performance and strategy, with investor and analyst feedback a Board Meeting agenda item.

The Company is committed to maintaining a comprehensive level of engagement with shareholders and the investment community, including via members of the Executive Team and the Board as detailed within the Corporate Governance section on page 58 of the 2019 Annual Report, with two specific areas on how this is done given below.

  • Investor Relations function, with additional resource added in 2017 to improve and increase breadth of communications with the investment community. Emphasis is placed on meeting with new potential investors and analysts due to the importance of liquidity on a company’s share price and the preservation of an orderly market.
  • Capital Markets Day, following a previous event held in 2018, it is the Company’s intention to hold an event at the Company’s new regional distribution centre following it becoming operational during 2020. This will provide greater first-hand insight into the Company’s operations and Strategic Objectives as detailed on page 20 of the 2019 Annual Report.

Community Engagement

The Company is committed to positively impacting the communities and local areas in which it operates, and strongly supports all its businesses in their various channels of engagement with the communities in which they operate. 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 and utilising a number of methods including local employment agencies, job boards and word-of-mouth.

The Company actively encourages each of its businesses to build strong relationships with their communities and 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.

When there are complaints from members of the public or other road-users regarding a member of the Company’s workforce or the Company’s operations, these are fully investigated by the business concerned with support from the centralised HR function.