1. Section 172 Statement
This section describes how the directors have had regard to the matters set out in section 172(1)(a) to (f) Companies Act 2006 in exercising their duty to promote the success of the company for the benefit of its members.
Those matters were addressed as follows:-
(a) The likely consequences of any decisions in the long term.
The Board remains mindful that its strategic decisions can have long term implications for the business and its stakeholders and these implications are carefully assessed. During the year, in approving the Company’s budget the Board balanced the need for capital expenditure on enhancing information systems and store refurbishments with a desire to remain resilient to risks being posed by the long term trends emerging in relation to multichannel retailing and latterly by the onset of the impact of coronavirus on all aspects of its business.
(b) The interests of the Company’s employees.
The Board takes active steps to ensure that the suggestion, views and interests of staff members are gathered and considered in its decision making.
The Company benefits from having a Board who have served it for over thirty years and continue to be actively involved on a daily basis by maintaining regular communication, attendance and meetings with branch staff.
Further examples of how the Board engages with its staff include regular updates on business performance KPI’s, linking an element of employee reward to the financial success of the Company, offering the employees the opportunity for career development and regular communication where necessary from the Company’s in house human resources department on all major matters of importance including the welfare and health and safety of the workforce.
Strategic Report (continued)
(b) The interests of the Company’s employees. (continued)
During the year, The Board reacted swiftly to the viral pandemic which resulted in the closure of its activities from 23rd March 2020 before the government lockdown was announced. It disseminated information throughout its branch network as soon as it was in a position to do so and maintained all furloughed employees on full pay assisted by the Government Job Retention Scheme.
(c) The need to foster the Company’s business relationships with suppliers, customers and others.
As all members of the Board work within the business this ensures regular dialogue with customers on the shop floor, key material suppliers by way of involvement with visits to their premises and landlords and regulatory authorities through electronic and other means of communication.
During the year, The Board also took immediate steps to inform all of its suppliers and landlords that its obligations to them would be met despite its inability to trade from 23rd March 2020 as a consequence of government lockdown regulations which had been issued to businesses in order to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus.
(d) The impact of the Company’s operations on the community and the environment.
The Board is committed to supporting the communities throughout the cities and towns where its branches are based and being environmentally responsible.
In addition to monetary contributions to charitable bodies it also provides gifts in kind for charitable events and encourages branch staff to become involved in local fundraising and awareness events in their local community and where appropriate will sponsor staff actively taking part in these events.
The Company is committed to minimising its environmental impact by reducing both the carbon intensity of its activities and the natural resources it uses through the development and operation of good business practices to manage resources more efficiently through their lifecycle.
The Company through its shop fitting programme, is continuously looking at ways of reducing its energy use, particularly in areas such as lighting and air conditioning.
The Company continues to liaise with suppliers to eliminate avoidable plastics in product packaging.
The Company has started to look at alternatives to plastic reusable carrier bags in the business which currently are 100% recyclable by using more environmental, friendly material. The proceeds of sale of our carrier bags go to the nominated local charities of each of our branches and support a wide range of charities.
The Company will continue to keep under review what process changes can be made to its operation to reduce the impact on the environment.
Strategic Report (continued)
(e) The desirability of the Company maintaining a reputation for high standards of business conduct.
The Board prides itself on its long history of honesty and integrity in its business dealings. It recognises the importance of operating a robust corporate governance framework and notwithstanding its private company status strives to adopt best practices such as those set out in the 2018 Wates corporate governance publication.
(f) The need to act fairly as between members of the Company
The Company has long term shareholders who are all Board members and active working directors. This close involvement assists greatly in ensuring that their interests are not only aligned but also addressed in an effective manner.