Corporate and Social Responsibility

Introduction

Our commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility ("CSR") is included within our group procedures manual which sets out our undertaking to act ethically and responsibly in all of our business dealings with stakeholders and includes our ethics, fraud and whistle-blowing polices, which are communicated to employees. We do not permit bribery, anti-competition or corrupt practices in any dealings. We are committed to continuous improvements in all aspects of CSR – our polices, our systems, our performance and our reporting. Our management structure allows the consideration of social and environmental factors by both individual businesses within the group and also at a group level. Our links with external stakeholders continue to grow including improved customer liaison and community involvement. We aim to manage our relationships with our stakeholders and communicate with them professionally and responsibly. The board has identified its principal stakeholders as shareholders, customers, employees, suppliers and local communities and also recognises its responsibility to the environment. Responsibility to the board for relations with all our stakeholders lies with the Group Chief Executive and the board as a whole reviews key CSR elements.

We monitor our performance against objectives with the aim of continual improvement. In addition to improvements in respect of environmental and social responsibility performance, we have continued to make positive moves in waste and energy management, supply chain accountability, sustainable development, health and safety and staff development and welfare.

Our policy

Our policy sets out the framework for the development and implementation of CSR activities across the group. We will conduct all our business activities in a fair and balanced manner, respecting and responding to legal, social and ethical issues arising from our commercial activities. We are committed across the group to continued progress in the following areas:

These areas reflect our main responsibilities as the leading European floor covering distributor. They will inevitably be widened to encompass other stakeholders as our CSR programme develops.

Improving the quality of our products, processes and services

We aim to increase awareness and communication of the environmental strategy and commitments through a programme of employee training.

We work with our main suppliers to improve working practices and the environment management of our supply chain, although we recognise that many of our suppliers already work to exacting standards. We seek to improve in these areas and would comment on our commitment as follows:

Investment in automated dispatch sortation equipment has significantly reduced manual handling which in turn will reduce the number and frequency of reported manual handling accidents.

Training in health and safety awareness, impending changes in relevant legislation and other specialist subjects is fully supported. Health and safety activities are verified by regular site audits and inspections. During this year the group health and safety policy was introduced into recently acquired businesses. This coordinated approach, with a common policy approach throughout the group, improves our governance and shows additional commitment to being an employer of choice. Good relationships are maintained with regulators in the areas in which we operate.

During the year we have improved policies on work related driving and stress, where new approaches have been launched. Feedback from health and safety committees has also been used to develop health and safety improvements. Whilst we aim for lower levels, the low level of accidents reflects the success of our health and safety policies.

Working with local communities around our business.

We recognise that our business should be conducted in a socially as well as environmentally responsible way. Listening to and learning from what our customers, employees, suppliers and other stakeholders tell us about what is important to them is a feature of how we work. It has helped us keep in touch with what is happening in the markets in which we operate. We are committed to managing the social responsibilities connected with our business in an open and honest way. We try to make a positive contribution to all the communities in which we operate. We support local community activity and give charitable donations. Where suitable opportunities are presented, the focus is on creating links that are sustainable, and on improving the image and understanding of the business in the community. Examples include the provision of work experience placements for local schools, the use of facilities, employees acting as school governors and engaging with local organisations.

Protecting the environment

The board is committed to keeping the environmental impact of the group's facilities and activities to a minimum. We have a structure in place that facilitates the pooling of information and resources to ensure best practice is shared across the group. In recognising our responsibility to protect the environment we have adopted an environmental policy which is reviewed periodically. Our policy seeks to cover the various aspects that affect our businesses, including the following:

The group seeks to improve its environmental performance and to minimise the impact of its operations.

Achieving sustained growth and profitability

Whilst achieving the group's goal of sustained growth and profitability in future years, there are a number of key areas which will assist in the attaining the financial at the same time as meeting corporate social responsibility obligations.

Through improving our understanding and control of our supply chain, we shall continue to investigate the benefits from using green specification guides and modify our strategy accordingly. We shall continue to work with suppliers to ensure products are supplied from renewable sources and that their manufacturing processes fairly reward employees and do not seek to exploit. We shall continue to work with our suppliers to investigate the potential for improvements in product design. Where choice of suppliers is possible, various procurement methods are used depending on the type of product or service being procured. Local suppliers for service functions to our businesses are used where commercially practical. There are no significant supply contracts which are essential to the business of the group.

We place great importance on effectively managing our operations to minimise the likelihood of adverse impact. We pro-actively manage our facilities to minimise energy consumption utilising energy efficient lighting and heating. Our new sites are subjected to an environmental assessment prior to any construction taking place. This allows solutions to any identified environment issues to be incorporated into the planning process. Recognising that development can be potentially damaging, we seek to minimise energy consumption during the construction of new premise and the effects on the environment. Wherever possible, subject to the operating constraints of the business, existing trees and vegetation are retained and augmented as necessary. Existing sites are maintained in a tidy condition to minimise ecological impact.

As part of our commitment to sustainable development we work with transport consultants to formulate green travel plans incorporating car sharing schemes and provision for bicycles when designing new facilities.

We recognise that our business operations will be around for many years, having an impact on future generations, and to this end we work with local authorities to design new properties which not only comply with guidelines but seek to blend in with their surroundings though the careful use of quality materials, landscaping and design features. We support the desire to see development take place in sustainable locations.

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