Corporate Responsibility

We take Corporate Responsibility seriously and our obligations evolve as the Group grows.

Corporate Responsibility covers a wide range of activities and our current focus is on the measurement of the impact of our operations, including those recently acquired.

Employees

The Board recognises that building and developing the skills, engagement and culture of the growing workforce, are essential to achieving the Group’s success. Succession planning is also important as the Group grows and mitigates the principle risk which can arise from the loss of key personnel and their associated knowledge, skill and experience. The average length of service, which remains consistently high at ca. seven years, reflects the stability and commitment of the employees. Staff turnover remains modest at ca. 20% whilst the number of working days lost to sickness has increased slightly to ca. 2% a year. These measures remain consistent across each of the Group’s sectors.

 

Key employee statistics

  2019 2018 2017
Average number of employees in year 1,896 1,765 1,658
Females as percentage of total 35% 35% 35%
Length of service (years) 6.7 6.8 6.7
Average staff turnover 19.8% 19.7% 20.6%
Sick days lost per person 4.1 3.6 3.3

The Group encourages good physical and mental health, but has seen an increase in the number of sick days lost per person this year. This is mostly due to specific, limited employee situations impacting both long and short term absence from work.

Set out below is an analysis of the number of employees by gender at the year end:

  2019 2018
  Male Female Total Male Female Total
Directors 5 1 6 4 1 5
Senior Manager 89 22 111 78 18 96
Employees 1,244 707 1,951 1,092 614 1,706
Total 1,338 730 2,068 1,174 633 1,807

Gender diversity in the Group is very important and currently ca. 35% of the Group’s employees are female. The Board continues to encourage and support greater diversity at all levels in the Group’s businesses.

The Group values the commitment of its employees and recognises the importance of communication in fostering good working relationships. The Group keeps employees informed on matters relating to their employment, business developments, successes, and financial and economic factors affecting the Group. This is achieved through videos, management briefings, internal announcements, this website and by the distribution of Preliminary and Interim Announcements and press releases. Copies of the Annual Review and Annual Report & Accounts are also made available in the operating businesses and provide employees an understanding of the Group’s business objectives and their roles in achieving them.

Both employment policy and practice in the Group are based on non-discrimination and equal opportunities. Ability and aptitude are the determining factors in the selection, training, career development and promotion of all employees.

The Group remains supportive of the employment and advancement of disabled persons. Applications for employment by disabled persons are always fully considered, bearing in mind the respective aptitudes and abilities of the applicants concerned. If an employee is, or becomes, disabled during their period of employment, the Group will, if necessary and to the extent possible, adapt the work environment to enable the employee to continue in their current position or retrain the employee for duties suited to their abilities following disablement.

Employment policies throughout the Group have been established to comply with relevant local legislation and codes of practice relating to employment, Health & Safety and equal opportunities. The Group provides good quality working environments and facilities for employees and training and development appropriate to each of their roles.

The Group provides sponsorship for high potential employees for higher education courses, where appropriate, and employees are actively encouraged to undertake Continuing Professional Development (“CPD”). Some of the Group’s operating companies have structured apprenticeship schemes of which nine (2018: ten) were undertaken in the UK this year.

In accordance with the Market Abuse Regulation of the Financial Conduct Authority, employees are required to seek approval of the Group Company Secretary before dealing in its shares.

Health & Safety

The Group is fully committed to ensuring clean, safe and healthy working conditions. The Group actively promotes a strong safety culture and a collective responsibility for ensuring Health & Safety standards are continually improved.

The Chief Executive Officer, assisted by a member of the Executive Management Committee and the Chief Executive of each Sector, has overall responsibility for Health & Safety policies and procedures across the Group. However, in line with the Group’s decentralised management approach, accountability for Health & Safety is with local management to ensure compliance with local regulatory requirements, cultural and specific business needs. The Group requires that each operating business conducts Health & Safety reviews against its specific operational risk profile and local regulatory requirements.

Health & Safety forms part of the induction process for new employees and, where relevant, more specialist training is provided for specific functions. The Group has good coverage of employees who have formal Health & Safety training and/or qualifications, and this has continued to increase during 2019.

Following the implementation of near miss reporting in 2016, the Group has now used its third full year of the system to assist in ensuring that Health & Safety hazards are proactively identified, and appropriate mitigation put in place to ensure that they do not result in Health & Safety incidents.

  2019 2018
Near misses 88 73
Minor injuries 101 71
Reportable lost time incidents1 9 1
Minor injuries per 1,000 employees 62.8 40.2
Reportable lost time incidents1 per 1,000 employees 4.7 0.6
1 Three or more days' absence from workplace.

The absolute levels of minor injuries and near misses have increased this year but are seen as an indication of more diligent reporting practices. The near miss reporting system has placed emphasis on the need to identify and implement corrective actions prior to incidents occurring, which assists with reducing Health & Safety risk. The number of reportable lost time incidents has increased although the majority of incidents resulted in fewer than five lost days. All incidents are fully investigated, and corrective actions and preventative measures are put in place to ensure that the incident does not reoccur, and future risks are mitigated.

Human rights

The Group’s activities are substantially carried out in developed countries that have strong legislation governing human rights. The Group complies fully with appropriate legislation in the countries in which it operates to ensure the rights of every employee are respected and to treat all stakeholders with dignity and respect.

The Group promotes employment practices to ensure fair regard to diversity and equal opportunities. Staff are provided with a safe, secure and healthy environment in which to work. Employees have access to an independent hotline to report any issues relating to Human Rights violations.

Modern slavery

The Group adopts a zero-tolerance approach to slavery in all its forms, including human trafficking, forced labour and child labour. Annually, each business assesses the risk of slavery taking place either within the business itself or among its principal suppliers. Group businesses continuously monitor and carry out due diligence of suppliers through questionnaires, audits and visits. Based on these assessments and the initiatives implemented by the businesses to counter slavery, the Board was assured that slavery is not taking place within the Group and has published a Modern Slavery statement on the steps taken to prevent slavery.

Read the full Modern Slavery Statement

Environmental

The Group comprises sales and marketing focused businesses that essentially receive products from suppliers and despatch them to customers. The Group’s businesses do not operate delivery fleets; they use third-party carriers to deliver their products to customers and to provide much of their packaging requirements. The Group’s ability to control the environmental impact of its logistics partners is therefore limited. The primary impact on the environment, which is entirely in the Group’s control, is consumption of the normal business energy sources such as heating and power, which the  Group aims to minimise through compliance with relevant environmental legislation.

The Group is committed to identifying and assessing environmental risks, such as packaging waste, arising from its operations. Waste management initiatives are encouraged and supported by the Group and materials are recycled where practical. The Group’s use of water is minimal and relates to cleaning, bathrooms and staff refreshments.

Local management are committed to good environmental management practices throughout our operations. The Managing Directors have responsibility for environmental performance of their operating businesses and each subsidiary is required to implement initiatives to meet their responsibilities.

Each facility participates in recycling paper, plastic, cardboard and wood from pallets and continues to focus on minimising energy consumption through the efficient use of heating and lighting. In addition, the majority of the businesses now use fully recycled and biodegradable filler materials for packaging.

Greenhouse gas emissions

UK listed companies are required to report their global levels of Greenhouse Gas (“GHG”) emissions in their Annual Report & Accounts. This requirement is for disclosure of Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (indirect) emissions and only to the extent that such emissions are the responsibility of the Company; direct emissions include heating, cooling and transport fuel and examples of indirect include purchased electricity.

The Group has considered the six main GHGs and report emissions in tonnes of CO2 equivalent (“CO2e”) for both Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (indirect) emissions. These emissions are calculated following the GHG Protocol and UK Government Environmental Reporting Guidelines. The Group has used Defra UK GHG Conversion Factors, US Environmental Protection Agency Emission Factors and International Energy Agency Factors.

As a distributor with no owned logistics or freight, the Group’s primary direct energy usage and related CO2 emissions arise from the Group’s facilities. Where possible the Group has reported billed data which represents ca. 80% of the Group’s global emissions. For the remaining entities the Group has used an estimation using sales data and local conversion factors.

An intensity ratio of CO2e per £1m revenue has been selected, which will allow a comparison of performance over time and with other similar types of business.

Tonnes of CO2E

Source of emissions 2019 2018
Direct emissions (Scope 1)    
Natural gas 907 726
Owned transport 95 65
Indirect emissions (Scope 2)    
Electricity 3,281 2,682
Gross emissions 4,283 3,473
Tonnes CO2e per £1m revenue 7.9 7.2
Task Force on climate-related financial disclosures ("TCFD")

As part of the Group’s annual risk management process the Group’s businesses consider climate-related risk and where significant, reports these to the Board for review and monitoring. The broad geographic and industrial sector spread of the Group’s businesses provide a high degree of resilience to climate-related risks.

The Board has identified that in the shorter term the principal risk from climate change on the Group’s businesses arises from extreme weather events that may significantly impact our facilities. In particular the North American Seals Aftermarket business is almost wholly reliant on its central warehouse located in Tampa, Florida. This geography is exposed to hurricanes, generally during the period from August to November each year.

In addition, a significant increase in energy costs caused by carbon taxation, regulation or limited resource would lead to higher costs from external freight and handling costs of delivering product to, or from our facilities.

Business ethics, corruption and bribery

The Group recognises its obligations towards the parties with whom the Group has business dealings including customers, shareholders, employers, suppliers and advisors.

In general, the interactions with these parties are managed at a local level by senior management and the Group expects a high standard of expertise and business principles to be maintained in such dealings.

The Group’s policy towards suppliers is that each operating business is responsible for negotiating the terms and conditions under which they trade with their suppliers. The Group does not operate a formal code that it follows with regard to payments to suppliers. Group companies agree payment terms with their suppliers when they enter into binding purchasing contracts for the supply of goods or services. Suppliers are, in that way, made aware of these terms. Group companies seek to abide by these payment terms when they are satisfied that the supplier has provided the goods or services in accordance with the agreed terms and conditions.

The Group also maintains processes and policies to monitor and review compliance across the Group’s businesses in connection with anti-bribery/corruption and international sanctions.

Community

The Group believes that good community relations are important to the long-term development and sustainability of the operating businesses. 

The Group’s businesses contribute to their local communities through numerous charitable and fundraising activities, primarily in support of health and children’s charities. 

The Group also contributes to local worthwhile causes and charities and in 2019 the Group made donations to charitable organisations of £46,441 (2018: £47,221). No political donations were made.