This statement describes our corporate governance structures and procedures, the work of the Board, its Committees and management, and how we have applied our chosen corporate governance code, the Quoted Companies Alliance Corporate Governance Code (the “QCA Code”).
THIS INFORMATION WAS LAST REVIEWED AND UPDATED ON 26 APRIL 2021.
The Board is committed to ensuring high standards of governance for the Company and considers that the Quoted Companies Alliance Corporate Governance Code 2018 (the “QCA Code”) provides the most appropriate framework of governance arrangements for a public company of our size and complexity. We have complied with all principles of the QCA Code throughout the year.
The Board remains committed to effective corporate governance as the basis for promoting the long-term growth and sustainability of the business for the benefit of our shareholders and wider stakeholders. As Chairman of the Board, I am responsible for ensuring that the Company has corporate governance arrangements in place which are appropriate for the size and complexity of the Company and that these arrangements are followed in practice. We are committed to delivering growth in the long term, building trust through open dialogue and maintaining a dynamic management framework.
We have sought to ensure that we have a dynamic governance environment which allows the business the opportunity to thrive in the long term, where the Group works towards its agreed strategy mindful of its impact on others and the threats and opportunities faced but is confident in its robust system of risk management and internal control. An environment where open dialogue is encouraged to build trust and ensure the legitimate motivations and expectations of both shareholders and stakeholders are recognised and met and where a diverse, skilled Board sets the culture of the Company by supporting the Group’s vision and values.
Whilst we have chosen to apply the QCA Code, we also continue to have regard to the UK Corporate Governance Code 2018 (the “UK Corporate Governance Code”) as best practice guidance and seek to comply with the UK Corporate Governance Code wherever this is appropriate for the Company. As a Board, we are committed to providing the robust leadership and oversight of the business required in setting and monitoring the Company’s culture to ensure that behaviours align with our purpose, values and strategy. The Board is very aware that the tone and culture set by the Board will greatly impact all aspects of the Group as a whole and the way that employees behave. We have a number of policies and procedures in place to ensure the culture the Board wants to foster is embedded throughout the business. Further information can be found within the Our Sustainability page. A healthy corporate culture is promoted within the business in various ways including by linking employees’ appraisal objectives and reward and recognition schemes to our vision and values. The Board assesses the culture of the Company through engagement with employees and other stakeholders (further details can be found in the Stakeholder Engagement section on page 21), the monitoring of the development of risks to the business and the external awards and accreditations we receive from organisations such as Investors in People. The Board is satisfied that a culture of openness, honesty and integrity exists within the business and is one that is consistent with our vision to be a leading force in the global homeware sector. Our business model and mitigation of our principal risks rely on positive relationships with key stakeholders which can only occur if a culture of openness and integrity exists. We promote knowledge of our whistle-blowing policies with employees and suppliers to ensure such openness is always available.
Our governance framework is kept under review. There have been no significant corporate governance challenges in 2020. Whist Covid-19 has clearly brought operational challenges, the Group has managed these in an exemplary way and our corporate governance has not faltered.
Maintaining a skilled, well-balanced and experienced Board is of fundamental importance to the long-term success of the business. During 2020, there were a number of changes to the Board. Two of our Non-executive Directors resigned during the year; Janis Kong at the AGM on the 19 May 2020 and Lawrence Bryan on 4 August 2020. Clare Askem joined us as a Non-executive Director on 4 August 2020, strengthening the Board with her experience in business change and digital transformation. Also, on 4 August 2020, the Group was delighted to welcome Jacqui Gale to the Board as Chief Commercial Officer and on 28 August 2020 Bill Robedee as President of North America. Jacqui has been with the Group as the Managing Director of Wax Lyrical Limited, the Group’s home fragrance division, since 2018. Bill joined us as part of the Nambé LLC acquisition in 2019 and integrated the Group’s two US businesses over the prior 12 months. Phil Atherton resigned as Group Sales & Marketing Director on 3 August 2020.
We currently have four Non-executive Directors alongside five Executive Directors. We have in place a Board that is extremely capable, energetic and focused on delivering our strategy for the benefit of all our stakeholders. We are of the view that the Board is a balanced team with constructive scrutiny and challenge from the Non‑executive Directors.
17 March 2021
As explained fully within our Strategic Report on pages 1 to 27, our strategy is focused around six key areas: focused brand and product development, digital and online transformation, continued focus on South Korean market, leveraging Wax Lyrical and Nambé opportunities, targeting rest of the world export growth and operating and procurement efficiency and capabilities. How the Company’s corporate governance arrangements support our strategy is detailed within the Our Strategy page. Information on our business model can be found on business model page.
Risk management and internal controls
As with all companies, the Group faces challenges in the execution and delivery of its strategy and business model. The environment in which the Company operates is continually changing and evolving which presents both opportunities and risks. To ensure the Company can capitalise on these developments whilst protecting the Group from significant risk, the Company has a comprehensive risk management and internal control system in place. Details of the Group’s principal risks and how these are addressed can be found on our Risk Management page.
The process by which the Board identifies, assesses and mitigates external business risks and principal internal control risks and how the Board gains assurance that the risk management system is effective is detailed in the Risk Management section.
The Board has an established internal control system for identifying internal control risks. As might be expected in a Group of this size, a key control procedure is the day to day supervision of the business by the Executive Directors, supported by the senior managers with responsibility for key operations. The Executive Directors are involved in the budget setting process, constantly monitor key performance indicators and review management accounts on a monthly basis, noting and investigating major variances. Where a new risk is identified, it will be assessed and then mitigated through the implementation of an appropriate control.
The adequacy of the systems for internal control is reviewed at every Board meeting. Furthermore, the Audit Committee reviews the adequacy and effectiveness of the Group’s internal controls and reports its findings to the Board on an annual basis. During the course of these reviews in 2020, no failings or weaknesses were identified nor have any been advised to the Board which the Board has determined to be significant.
The Group’s system of internal control is designed to identify fraud or material error and manage, rather than eliminate, the risk of failure to achieve business objectives, and so can only provide reasonable and not absolute assurance against material misstatement or loss.
The Board has considered the impact of the values and culture of the Group and ensures that, through staff communication and training, the Board’s expectations and attitude to risk and internal control are embedded in the business.
Understanding the motivations and expectations of our shareholders and stakeholders is imperative. The Board acknowledges that effective engagement can only be realised through:
- the opportunity for all shareholders and stakeholders to feed back their views to the Company based upon their understanding of the Group’s strategy and objectives; and
- the presentation of a fair, balanced and understandable assessment of the Group’s position and prospects.
During 2020, the Group made significant progress in a number of key areas as set out in Our Strategy and Our Strategy in Action sections page despite the challenges of Covid-19. Throughout the year, the Board was committed to ensuring that both shareholders and stakeholders were regularly updated on the Group’s progress.
A programme of two-way communication with both institutional and private investors takes place each year.
The Group provides information about its progress and strategy through its Annual and Interim Reports and Accounts, trading updates, results presentations and investor roadshows. Investor site visits allow shareholders to learn more about the operation of the business. Key announcements are made through the London Stock Exchange Regulatory News Service and on the Announcements section of the Company’s Investor Relations website. The Chief Executive engages with retail investors through the Investor meets Company forum.
The Chairman, with the support of the Chief Executive and Group Finance Director, is responsible for shareholder liaison. The Chairman talks regularly with the Group’s major shareholders and ensures that their views are communicated fully to the Board. The Chairman writes annually to significant shareholders offering a meeting to discuss corporate governance matters. No concerns were raised following this communication in 2020. The Non-executive Directors are also offered the opportunity to attend meetings with major shareholders.
The Board recognises the Annual General Meeting (AGM) as an important opportunity to meet private shareholders and, as such, normally, all Directors are and will be in attendance. The Directors are available to listen to the views of shareholders informally immediately following the AGM. If voting decisions at the AGM are not in line with the Company’s expectations the Board will engage with those shareholders to understand and address any issues. The Chairman and the Company Secretary are the main points of contact for such matters. At the AGM held on 19 May 2020, all resolutions were passed with a significant majority.
Due to the unprecedented uncertainty facing businesses around the world from Covid-19, there was no final dividend recommended for 2019 or interim dividend declared for 2020. The Board understands that dividend income is important to our shareholders and is committed to resuming sustainable dividend payments as soon as it is appropriate to do so. On the basis the trading environment continues to demonstrate a sustained return to normality, the Board anticipates recommencing dividend payments for the financial year 2021.
Our programme of stakeholder engagement is designed around our assessment of the materiality and impact of our stakeholders on the achievement of the Company’s strategy. Our key stakeholders have been identified via an assessment of the Group’s business model. Please refer to Stakeholder Engagement table below:
|Why we engage||Stakeholder expectations||How we have engaged||Engagement outcomes|
Our people deliver the high quality products and exceptional service that we are renowned for.
||Adapted work practices to make Covid-19 secure, taking all suggestions and concerns of employees into account to safeguard their health and wellbeing whether on site or remote working.|
Sourced product suppliers
In 2020, 58% of our products were sourced from third parties. We need to ensure security of supply and that all products are manufactured to our exacting quality standards.
||The Group worked collaboratively with suppliers to encourage increased sustainability in the production and packaging of sourced products.|
Our customers are at the heart of our operations. The longevity of the business can only be secured through maintaining and expanding our customer base.
Feedback from customers has led to the creation of customised product offerings and range extensions.
In 2020, we launched a business to business website for trade customers and further enhanced our ecommerce direct to consumer sites.
The Group uses finance to assist with its cash flow and to capitalise on business opportunities as they arise. Ensuring a good working relationship with our finance provider allows the Group to continue to trade and expand.
||The Group kept in close contact with its finance provider as the short-term impacts of Covid-19 were analysed. The Group ended 2020 with net cash of £0.7 million compared to prior year net debt of £(12.3) million.|
Defined benefit pension scheme (the ‘Scheme’)
The Group and the Trustees of the Scheme each have an important role to play in ensuring the proper management of the Scheme. As such, a good working relationship must exist between the Group and the Trustees of the Scheme. Key to this relationship is open and clear communication.
||The Group has continued to meet its financial obligations in accordance with the agreed Schedule of Contributions.|
Board composition and roles
The Board is responsible for the overall leadership and management of the Group. The Board comprises five Executive Directors and four Non-executive Directors. Biographies of all the Directors.
Dick Steele, the Non-executive Chairman, is responsible for leadership of the Board and ensuring its effectiveness in all aspects of its role. The Board has not appointed a Senior Non-executive Director. The Board believes that, given its size, there is sufficient opportunity for shareholders to raise any concerns they may have with the Non-executive Chairman, the Chief Executive, the Group Finance Director, the other three Non-executive Directors or the Company Secretary.
The Board delegates day to day responsibility for managing the business to the Executive Directors and the senior management team. Mike Raybould, the Chief Executive, has executive responsibility for running the Group’s business and implementing Group strategy. To ensure suitably defined separation of the responsibilities of the Board and the running of the Group’s business, the Board has a formal schedule of matters reserved to it. The schedule is reviewed annually and updated when necessary to ensure its appropriateness.
Matters reserved to the Board
The Board has three Committees which assist in the discharge of its responsibilities – the Audit, Remuneration and Nomination Committees. The terms of reference for each Committee are reviewed annually and are available here.
The expertise and wealth of experience from across different industries which are brought by our Non-executive Directors is considered invaluable to the Company. The Board, after careful review, considers that each Non-executive Director is independent and brings an unbiased critical insight, gained from their experience in high performing companies completely distinct to our own, to bear notwithstanding their length of service. The Board has considered the need for progressive refreshing of the Board in formulating this view. All Non‑executive Directors have contracts which expire on the completion of one year’s notice. These are available for inspection at the Company’s registered office and at the AGM. Whilst the Company’s Articles of Association require retirement by rotation every three years, the Board has decided to adopt voluntarily the practice that all continuing Directors stand for re-election on an annual basis in line with recommendations of the UK Corporate Governance Code. All Directors undergo a performance evaluation before being proposed for election/re-election to ensure that their performance is and continues to be effective, that where appropriate they maintain their independence and that they are demonstrating continued commitment to the role. Further details of the Board evaluation process.
For a Board to be successful, it must make decisions which are in the best interests of the Company without reference to the interests of the Directors. In line with the requirements of the Companies Act 2006, the Directors have put in place a policy and process for notifying and recording the nature and extent of their interests, together with those of connected persons, in organisations and companies outside the Group. Each Director must formally notify the Company if there is potential for these interests to conflict with their duties as a Director of the Company. All such notifications are regularly reviewed by the Board.
Time commitments and meetings
All Non-executive Directors are expected to devote such time as is necessary for the proper performance of their duties. This includes considering all relevant papers before each meeting and attendance at a minimum of five Board meetings per year, the AGM and such other meetings which are necessary. The Nomination Committee annually reviews the time required from Non-executive Directors, which includes assessing whether sufficient time is being spent by the Non-executive Directors to fulfil their duties.
All Directors receive regular and timely information on the Group’s operational and financial performance. Relevant information is circulated to the Directors in advance of meetings. In addition, minutes of the meetings of the Directors of the main operating UK subsidiary, Portmeirion Group UK Limited, are circulated to the Board.
The following table shows the attendance of the Directors at meetings of the Board during 2020:
Skills and experience
Details of each Director’s skills and experience can be found in the biographies on the Board of Directors page. The requirement for the Board to have an appropriate mix of personal qualities (including diversity and gender balance) and capabilities is considered in respect of new Board appointments (further details can be found in the Nomination Committee Report on pages 42 and 43), as part of the Board evaluation process and when addressing training and development needs of Directors.
All Directors have direct access to the advice and services of the Company Secretary and are able to take independent professional advice in the furtherance of their duties, if necessary, at the Company’s expense. The Company Secretary’s role includes providing guidance to the Board on its duties and ensuring that the Board complies with relevant legislation and the Articles of Association of the Company.
External advice was sought in relation to the Placing, Subscription and Open Offer which was approved by shareholders on 29 June 2020 and in relation to operational matters.
Board evaluation process
Each year the Board carries out an evaluation of its own performance in the first quarter looking at performance in the prior year. All recommendations arising from the Board’s evaluations of its performance in 2019 have been addressed. As part of the evaluation of 2020 performance, each Director reviewed Board performance against set criteria covering areas such as the Board’s approach to risk, the effectiveness of each Director and Board communication, as well as reviewing Board performance in respect of key events in 2020. Specific actions arising from the evaluation were:
(i) an analysis of how the Board had reacted to the challenges of Covid-19 and any learnings therefrom;
(ii) continue the successful separate strategy sessions; and
(iii) changes to the Chair of the Nomination and Remuneration Committees.
Following the evaluation, the Board is satisfied that it has a good balance of experience and skills, which allows both strong collaborative working and robust challenge.
Each year, the Board also considers the need for an external evaluation of its performance. No external evaluation was conducted in 2020.
The Audit Committee, Remuneration Committee and Nomination Committee’s performance is considered annually as part of the Board evaluation process outlined above. Furthermore, the terms of reference for each Committee are reviewed on an annual basis against good practice and appropriate guidelines. As part of this review, the Committees assess their performance to ensure they have fulfilled the responsibilities outlined in the terms of reference. Each Committee concluded that it had performed effectively during the year and there were no specific actions arising from the evaluations.
Induction, training and development
Key to the effectiveness of Board decision making is a detailed understanding of the homeware market, our history and products, the operating environment, relevant legislation and regulation to which the Group is subject and the challenges the Group faces.
All new Directors undertake a comprehensive induction process following their appointment to the Board. The induction would usually consist of main factory and distribution centre tours, full briefings on the operation and history of the business, the role of the Director and the operation of the Board together with meetings with the senior management team and Executive Directors.
Existing Directors are provided with ongoing training, as necessary, by the Company to ensure they have the requisite skills to discharge their duties. During 2020, the Board received updated anti-corruption and bribery training and the Executive Directors update training on data protection and modern slavery. Tailored Director briefing notes are provided throughout the year. All Directors are encouraged to attend relevant external training, seminars and conferences to facilitate their continuing professional development. Where specific training needs are identified, including as a result of the Board evaluation process and individual Director appraisals, the Company will organise the relevant training. The Company Secretary supports the Chairman in addressing the training and development needs of Directors.