John Nicholas


The Board continues to believe that strong corporate governance is critical to delivering our strategy. The Board is responsible for the leadership of the Group, ensuring our actions are in keeping with the values that shape our culture and in delivering long-term sustainable value for our stakeholders.

When we last met with shareholders in January 2020, we could not have predicted the Covid-19 pandemic and the changes that would arise over the following months. While still covering all the matters that needed to be covered as part of the Company's annual governance cycle, the Board meetings at the start of 2020 also had substantial additional focus on the Group's response to Covid-19, the priorities and goals for our businesses, and the extensive actions being taken in respect of our stakeholders. Since then the Board has continued to receive detailed updates on the pandemic as the backdrop to meetings, while ensuring that the Board continues its regular oversight and leadership functions.

We welcome the new UK Corporate Governance Code (the "Code") and consider that many of the updated Code principles or provisions are already being adhered to or considered in some way. However, cognisant of the importance that the Board places on governance, we have continued to review and enhance our existing governance processes to ensure they are suitable for our evolving Group and align with investor expectations. 

Central to the long-term delivery of our strategy is the Group's culture, underpinned by the values and behaviours expected of our colleagues. Therefore, we continually consider how our culture is aligned with our purpose, values and strategic objectives. 

Board succession planning continued to be a key priority in 2019/20. Through the Nomination Committee, we focused both on Board succession as well as the succession for the wider Group to ensure we have the right balance of skills, independence, experience and diversity in line with the needs of the Group. 

Strengthening the voice of our stakeholders at Board level has been a focus this year. We recognise the importance of our wider stakeholders in delivering our strategy and business sustainability. The Board feels well informed about broader employee concerns and has always been able to proactively consider employees as context for decisions. Given the Group's size and complexity, and its geographical spread, the Board proposes to continue with a muti-faceted approach to workforce engagement that is not led by any one Director or group of Directors. The Board considers that this approach is appropriate, but will continue to keep engagement mechanisms under review to ensure they remain effective. 

I would like to thank the Board and the Executive team for their ongoing support, particularly during the Covid-19 crisis. 

I hope that as shareholders in the Company you will be able to find time to attend our AGM on Wednesday, 20 January 2021 to meet the Board of Directors and challenge them on any matters you feel are important to the future development of the Group.

Read the full Corporate Governance Report 2020