The Board is collectively responsible for the long-term success of the Company and has ultimate responsibility for the management, direction and performance of the Group and its businesses. The Board is required to exercise objective judgment on all corporate matters and is accountable to shareholders for the proper conduct of the business.
The Board has a schedule of matters that are specifically reserved for its decision. All Directors have access to the advice and services of the Company Secretary who is a solicitor. The Company Secretary is responsible to the Board for ensuring that procedures are followed and for compliance with applicable rules and regulations.
There is a clearly defined division of responsibilities between the Chairman and the Group Chief Executive. The Chairman is primarily responsible for the leadership and effective working of the Board. This is achieved by:
- chairing Board meetings, setting the agendas in consultation with the Group Chief Executive and Company Secretary and encouraging the Directors to actively participate in Board discussions;
- leading the performance evaluation of the Board, its Committees and individual Directors;
- promoting high standards of corporate governance;
- ensuring timely and accurate distribution of information to the Directors and effective communication with shareholders;
- periodically holding meetings with the Non-Executive Directors without the Executive Directors present; and
- establishing an effective working relationship with the Group Chief Executive by providing support and advice whilst respecting executive responsibility.
The Group Chief Executive is responsible for the executive management of the Group and for ensuring the implementation of Board strategy and policy within approved business plans, budgets and timescales.
Non-Executive Directors bring a wide range of experience to the Group and are considered by the Board to be independent.
The Board meets regularly during the year as well as on an ad hoc basis, receiving appropriate information from management on a timely basis and making further detailed enquiries where necessary to enable the Board to discharge its duties. At each meeting the Board receives regular reports covering, for example, current trading, treasury, health and safety issues and capital expenditure proposals. There is a detailed process to ensure that the Board formally reviews and approves annual budgets and business plans. Throughout the year the Board reviews performance against these annual budgets and business plans.
The Board receives regular updates on strategy and reviews other topics, including material risks and legal issues affecting the Group and uncertainties facing the business. The Board also evaluates its own performance. In addition, each year the senior management succession plan for the Group is reviewed.
The Board has three Committees that assist in the discharge of its responsibilities:
The Remuneration Committee is responsible for making recommendations to the Board on the Group's framework of executive remuneration and its cost. The Committee determines the contract terms, remuneration and other benefits for each of the Executive Directors, including performance-related bonus schemes, pension rights and compensation payments. The Board itself determines the remuneration of the Non-Executive Directors. The Remuneration Committee comprises the Non-Executive Directors.
Remuneration Committee: Terms of Reference
The Audit Committee comprises the Non-Executive Directors. Audit Committee meetings are also attended, by invitation, by the Chief Executive and Group Finance Director. The Committee meets not less than three times annually.
The Committee is responsible for reviewing a wide range of financial reporting and related matters including the half-year and annual accounts before their submission to the Board. The Committee is required to focus in particular on critical accounting policies and practices adopted by the Group, and any significant areas of judgment that materially impact reported results. It is also responsible for monitoring the internal controls that are operated by management to ensure the integrity of the information reported to the shareholders.
The Committee provides a forum for reporting by the Group's external auditors, and advises the Group Board on the appointment, independence and objectivity of the external auditors and on their remuneration both for statutory audit and non-audit work. It also discusses the nature, scope and timing of the statutory audit with the external auditors. The Committee also reviews the appropriateness of the annual internal audit programme for the Group, and ensures that the business risk management and internal audit functions are adequately sponsored and resourced.
Audit Committee: Terms of Reference
The Nominations Committee is responsible for reviewing the structure, size and composition required of the Board when compared to its current position, and it makes recommendations to the Board with regard to any changes. It considers and reviews succession planning for main Group Board Directors, taking into account the challenges and opportunities facing the Company; it identifies and nominates for Board approval suitable candidates to fill Board vacancies as and when they arise, and it keeps under review both the Executive and Non-Executive leadership needs of the Company to enable the Company to compete effectively in the marketplace.
The Nominations Committee also has responsibility for evaluating the performance of Non-Executive Directors, recommending as appropriate re-appointment of Non-Executive Directors at the end of their specified terms of office, and overseeing the re-election by shareholders of any director under the ‘retirement by rotation’ provisions in the Company’s articles of association.
The Nominations Committee comprises at least two members, all of whom shall be independent Non-Executive Directors.
Nominations Committee: Terms of Reference
Induction, Development and Support
All new Directors receive a full, formal and tailored induction on joining the Board, including meetings with senior management and advisers and visits to the Group’s operational locations. The Board calendar is planned to ensure that Directors are briefed on a wide range of topics throughout the year and are given the opportunity to visit sites and discuss aspects of the business with employees. The Board recognises that the Directors have a diverse range of experience, and encourages them to attend external seminars and briefings that will assist them individually.
Directors have access to independent professional advice at the Group’s expense where they judge this to be necessary to discharge their responsibilities as Directors. All Directors have access to the advice and services of the Company Secretary, who is responsible to the Board for ensuring that Board procedures are complied with.
Board Performance Evaluation
To further strengthen Group compliance, the Board undertakes an annual performance review that reviews and measures its effectiveness and that of its Committees. Alongside this review each Director receives an appraisal. The Chairman conducts appraisals in respect of the Group Chief Executive and Non-Executive Directors; the Non-Executive Directors (following discussions with the other Directors) conducts the Chairman’s appraisal; and the Group Chief Executive conducts appraisals in respect of the other Executive Directors.
Conflicts of Interest
The Articles of Association enable the Directors to authorise any situation in which a Director has an interest that conflicts or has the potential to conflict with the Company’s and Group’s interests and which would otherwise be a breach of the Director’s duty under section 175 of the Companies Act 2006. The Board has a formal system in place for Directors to declare such situations to be considered for authorisation by those Directors who have no interest in the matter being considered. The Nominations Committee will review conflicts of interests when considering new Board appointments.
Management has considerable autonomy to run and develop the business of the Group. The Board believes that a well-designed system of internal reporting and control is necessary. The Board therefore continues to have overall responsibility to develop and strengthen internal controls further. The Audit Committee, on behalf of the Board, has the responsibility for reviewing internal controls. The system is designed to provide reasonable, but not absolute, assurance that the assets of the Group are safeguarded, that proper accounting records are maintained, and that reliable financial information is produced.
All subsidiary undertakings are required to adhere to specified internal control procedures. The Audit Committee receives regular reports on internal control.
Monitoring of compliance with the Group’s system of internal control is undertaken by all levels of management and reinforced by the role fulfilled by the Audit Committee.
Relations with Shareholders
An important role of the Board is to represent and promote the interests of its shareholders as well as being accountable to them for the performance and activities of the Group. The Board believes it is important to engage with its shareholders and does this in a number of ways through presentations, conference calls, face-to-face meetings and the Annual General Meeting. Following the announcement of the Group’s half-year and year-end results, presentations are made to analysts and major shareholders to update them on progress and invite them to ask questions.
The Board is updated on the latest shareholder information by the receipt of shareholder register movements, analyst reports and feedback from the Group’s brokers following investor road shows after half-year and year-end results.
All Directors attend the Annual General Meeting and engage in discussion with shareholders present.
Safety, Health and the Environment
The Group has a proactive approach to Safety, Health and the Environment and is committed to the highest practicable standards of safety and health management and the minimisation of adverse environmental impacts.
The Board ensures that Health and Safety issues for employees, customers and the public are of foremost concern in all Group activities. The Group Chief Executive, supported by external advice, is charged with overall responsibility. The Group encourages both internal and external training through a formal network of full-time officers and Health and Safety nominated "champions" at all levels. Statistical analysis is used to highlight any areas where additional training or improved working practices would be beneficial, and positive action is promptly implemented. All divisions have formulated safety management systems.
Compliance with Laws
The Group has systems in place designed to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations and conformity with all relevant codes of business practice.
Compliance with the Bribery Act 2010 involves an Anti-Corruption Policy and a Group Whistle-blowing Policy. Training is given to all appropriate employees through the use of online tools to ensure that there is full understanding of the Bribery Act 2010 and awareness of the consequences of not adhering to Group policies.
The Group has taken the appropriate steps to comply with the provisions of the Market Abuse Regulation and the Modern Slavery Act.