Corporate Social Responsibility
The Group has always prided itself on acting responsibly in every aspect of the business. We operate with three core values, of being trusted, open and passionate about our business. We believe that engaging with our stakeholders, be that, employees, customers, shareholders, regulators, suppliers, franchisees or the wider local communities we operate in, and living our values, are the best ways to develop long term relationships for mutual benefit.
The success the Group has had to date, is down to its people. Implementing a continuous improvement ethos can only be achieved because of the hard work, dedication and enthusiasm of the people within the business. In return we are committed to create a working environment in which the employee can grow and develop, be well rewarded and well respected for what they contribute.
During the COVID-19 lockdown period we have focused on supporting our staff both emotionally and financially. A communication network was created in March 2020 to check on the wellbeing of each of the almost 700 individual employees who were furloughed. Through social media messenger channel group’s and weekly emails all staff were kept up to date with the Group’s response to the pandemic. To help support financially the Group topped up the pay of all furloughed employees to 100% from March through to July inclusive. By August the majority of the staff had returned to work.
We have been working hard to build on the progress made by recruiting, retaining and developing the best people. Great progress had been made in reducing staff turnover from April 2019 to March 2020 prior to the pandemic. Following this period there has been minimal turnover as a result of furlough and the unusual situation created by COVID-19.
The Group has comprehensive training programmes. These start with a week long, classroom-based induction into the business, and supplemented by instore mentoring, e-learning courses and area face to face training sessions. Every staff member has one to one development discussions with their Line Manager and training courses are provided as required. Certain training courses are mandatory and must be completed on an annual basis e.g. health and safety, data protection, cyber risks and anti-money laundering, while other courses focus on the development of an individual’s skills. We have continued to invest in jewellery and watch knowledge and selling skills, which have helped drive the great jewellery retail results.
The Group is an equal opportunities employer and we believe in appointing the best person based purely on merit to any role within the business. The Group is committed to ensure that people undertaking the same or similar work are paid equally and have an equal opportunity to progress. The Business encourages flexible working arrangements for people to continue to develop their careers whilst choosing how to maintain their balance between work and home life.
At Ramsdens we believe that being a diverse organisation allows us to grow and become the business we aspire to be. The executive committee of the trading company has been extended from six to eight members. The team consider the monthly reports of all department heads, signing off project initiatives in line with the Group’s strategy. The executive committee consists of 6 male and 2 female members, with different specialist skills, aged from 31 to 55. The committee continues to have great constructive and diverse input to how we move forward.
Including the executive committee members, the top 45 people influencers in the business meet annually and have continued their collective development within the Group’s Senior Management Leadership programme. It has been interrupted by COVID-19, but is in a great place to recommence in 2021. A new training course in mental wellbeing is currently been rolled out to this leadership team.
Where possible, the Group wishes to promote from within. The three Regional Managers, four of the eleven Area Managers and five of the six Internal Auditors and over 55% of the Branch managers were promoted from within the business.
Staff engagement is important to the Board. The Group operates a staff suggestion scheme and a department feedback scheme. Both are well supported as our people contribute to how we can continue to evolve and improve our products or processes. Suggestions received have included changes to the Group’s core IT system which have improved the available information for the branch staff to make better decisions, simplify cross selling opportunities and improve the speed of transaction to improve the customer journey. Other suggestions have included changes to marketing initiatives, the structure of employee remuneration and how to improve our covid-secure procedures. A centrally issued weekly newsletter keeps all staff informed on Group matters.
One of the developments held up by the pandemic is the first face to face meeting of the Employee Forum which was formed in 2020. The Employee Forum has a remit of discussing general matters that affect the business as well as how the Group can improve with the use of technology or its contribution to the environment.
The Group recognises and values long service. Each staff member receives an additional day of holiday entitlement for their first five years’ service and upon reaching their 5th anniversary they receive company wide recognition and a monetary award. Further recognition happens at 10 and 20 years’ service, with additional holidays and financial rewards at those milestones. We were pleased to recognise three 20 year service awards in this reporting period.
The Group has a philosophy of wanting to share the financial success of the business with staff. All staff received a minimum of inflationary pay rise in 2020 and in addition to their basic remuneration of pay and pension, each member of staff in head office or branch has the ability to earn a performance related bonus. The Group has introduced health insurance for its senior management team plus extended company sick pay benefits. All staff benefited from their birthday being an additional day’s holiday.
As part of the Board’s desire to reward key senior employees over the long term, the Group extended participation in the long-term incentive plan to 17 staff members in 2019.
The Group prides itself on its high repeat customer rates and the low number of complaints it receives and is committed to offering the highest standards of customer service. We appreciate at times things go wrong and the Ramsdens philosophy is to use a root cause analysis approach to put things right as quickly as possible and learn from any mistakes.
The Group recognises that it has a need to be a responsible lender, be aware that customer’s circumstances change and be proactive in assisting the needs of all customers. It has policies and procedures to help customers, including proactive forbearance programmes, and recognise signs of vulnerability including any customers who may be suffering from modern slavery.
The Group uses Trustpilot for customer feedback on its retail jewellery and foreign currency offerings. Both services currently enjoy excellent ratings.
The Group undertakes pulse surveys through its branch network to obtain customer feedback. The data is used to improve the Group’s communication and marketing strategies.
Suppliers & Franchisees
The Group has a limited number of key trade suppliers. Strong relationships have been built up over many years where the supplier and Ramsdens work together to improve the trade for both parties. Ramsdens reports on its supplier payment practices and believes in paying all suppliers as and when payments are due. The Group has sought assurance from its suppliers that they have no modern slavery practices within their supply chains. The Group's statement on its compliance with the Modern Slavery Act is available on its Website, www.ramsdensplc.com.
During the period, two of its main suppliers had difficulties. Travelex, had both cyber and group financial difficulties but maintained all services for Ramsdens. Wirecard Card Services UK Limited’s global difficulties led to a short interruption to the Group’s currency card but with minimal customer impact. The card program is now with Railsbank as issuer.
The Group has three franchisees operating four franchised stores. All franchised businesses are well established and audited quarterly to ensure they meet the standards required by Ramsdens.
The Group engages proactively with, and believes it has, open and good relationships with its Regulators.
Communities & the Environment
The Group is committed to engaging with its local communities and has assisted in a variety of fundraising initiative's raising money for both national and local charities.
This was primarily done through donations of jewellery for raffle prizes or auction lots, foreign coin collections and a matched funding scheme for staff taking part in local charitable events.
In addition to fundraising, the Group has been using its IT expertise to assist a local hospice improve its IT systems and reporting. This project is ongoing with delays caused by the pandemic.
This financial year the company has raised or helped charities directly raise over £14,000.
Some of the charities supported are listed below:
We also understand that, as a company, we can help make a difference to the environment.
The Group is constantly striving to reduce its carbon footprint by using materials from sustainable sources where possible, through means of recycling as much as we can and planning how what we use can be recycled or reused. The Group supplies its foreign currency exchange customers their notes in a clear plastic bag which is the exact size to meet the airline requirements for carrying liquids on board in hand luggage.
How we can improve our environmental footprint is a big challenge the Employee Forum has been tasked with.
GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
This report has been prepared in accordance with our regulatory obligation to report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions pursuant to the Companies (Directors’ Report) and Limited Liability Partnerships (Energy and Carbon Report) regulations 2018, which implement the Government’s policy on Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting.
All the Group’s Emissions fall under Scope 2, indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy. The Group’s methodology involves the initial collection of energy use data in respect of Electricity and Gas from suppliers, business mileage data for transport and the subsequent use of UK Government Conversion Factors to calculate emissions. The emission data set out below is for the period ended 30 September 2020.
The Group’s initiatives to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions include:
- An ongoing replacement of light bulbs in all our properties to energy efficient LED’s
- The reduction in business travel through the use of tele and video conferencing and car sharing
It should be noted that the closure of stores due to the pandemic, employees working from home and a general reduction in business operations has resulted in a material reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions in the last 18 months.