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Stakeholder Engagement and Section 172 Statement

The Directors of the Company are required by Section 172 of the Companies Act 2006 to act in a way that promotes the success of the Company for the benefit of stakeholders as a whole and in doing so, they must also have regard to wider expectations of responsible business behaviour, specifically:

  • the likely consequences of any decision in the long term;
  • the interests of the Company’s people;
  • the need to foster the Company’s business relationships with suppliers, customers and others;
  • the impact of the Company’s operations on the community and the environment;
  • the desirability of the Company maintaining a reputation for high standards of business conduct; and
  • the need to act fairly as between members of the Company.

Key stakeholders and stakeholder engagement

The Board understands the importance of engagement with its key stakeholders as only through engagement can it truly understand their needs and concerns to support its decision making, and the likely impact of those decisions on each stakeholder group. The Company uses a variety of methods to engage, both formally and informally, believing that much can be gained from personal interaction.

The Board acknowledges that situations may arise where stakeholder groups have conflicting priorities. In these circumstances the Board seeks to understand the needs and priorities of each group, and assess them individually and collectively from the perspective of achieving its strategic objectives and the long-term sustainable success of the business.

The Board considers the stakeholders most relevant to the Company’s Business Model (see page 30 of the 2021 Annual Report) and delivery of its Strategy (see page 8 of the 2021 Annual Report) to be (in no particular order): its people; customers; suppliers; and shareholders (collectively the ‘key stakeholders’).

People

The knowledge, expertise and commitment of the Company’s people supports the customer service proposition, and ultimately the profitability and success of the business. The methods the Company uses to engage with its people is detailed within the ESG Report (see page 44 of the 2021 Annual Report). The Board receives regular updates from these engagements at Board Meetings, including from the Employee Forum which has Board representation. Additionally, Board members engage in more informal site visits, where they interact with the Company’s people to understand their views in person.

Customers

Customers are at the heart of the Company’s business as without them there would be no business to operate. Through providing customers with market leading service and solutions, the Company is best placed to achieve long-term sustainable growth. The methods the Company uses to engage with its customers include regular customer surveys, focus groups, and dedicated customer teams. The results of these engagement methods are reported to the Board for their wider understanding and decision making process.

Suppliers

The Company’s relationships with suppliers are key to ensuring the Company can supply the right product at a competitive price in a timely manner to meet its customers’ needs. The methods the Company uses to engage with its suppliers is detailed within the ESG Report (see page 44 of the 2021 Annual Report) and the Company’s Modern Slavery Statement, and includes physical meetings at both the Company’s and supplier’s sites. In 2021, the Company engaged with suppliers on a number of key areas, including: joint business plans and supply chain efficiencies; changes to regulation (including upcoming); sustainability ambitions; and supply chain risk assessment.

Shareholders

Shareholders own the Company through their ownership of shares in the Company. It is important that the Board is aware and evaluates their views on the operation, and strategic and corporate objectives, of the Company. The methods the Company uses to engage with its shareholders is detailed with the Corporate Governance Report (see page 62 of the 2021 Annual Report).

Engagement on Key Strategic Decisions

Detailed in the table are below, in the Board’s opinion, the top six key strategic decisions taken in the year; the strategic rationale for those decisions; how the Company engaged with and sought to consider the key stakeholders most directly impact; and outcomes. The Board, together with the Executive Team, has responsibility for setting strategy and monitoring its delivery.

All the key strategic decisions were considered at Board level, and taken to support delivery of the Company’s Purpose and Strategy (see page 8 of the 2021 Annual Report) and which can be encapsulated by the fundamental aims of:

  • Market leading customer service propositions
  • Organic revenue growth outperformance against historic levels
  • Improved operating efficiency, and achievement of stated 7.5% UK underlying operating margin run-rate in 2023
  • Supporting its people, including through cultural development, engagement, and investment.
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