For several years we have continuously reviewed our environmental impact and what we can do to improve it.
Our ethos is for the Ramsdens team to be better citizens by being more environmentally aware, and where possible to reduce energy use, recycle and reuse.
This review covers;
- The services offered by Ramsdens
- Energy & water usage including greenhouse gas emissions
- Packaging used and waste generated by the business
- ESOS Audits and data collection
The services offered by Ramsdens
The services offered by Ramsdens have a sustainability and recycling theme. Customers use already owned assets to obtain a loan or cash and those assets, if left with, or sold to Ramsdens, are repurposed, reducing the need to mine new gold, diamonds or other precious stones and thereby reducing the environmental impact.
While the expectation of a pawnbroking customer is to repay the loan in order to be able to borrow again, if they do not, the asset pledged is either refurbished and recycled by being sold to a retail jewellery customer or the item is melted for its intrinsic value with the precious metal content reused in the manufacturing of new jewellery or other manufacturing processes. The reclaimed precious stones are reused to manufacture new jewellery either directly by Ramsdens or through our trade contacts.
The same is true for our purchase of precious metals service. We buy from customers unwanted, damaged or un-hallmarked jewellery items. Those items are assessed for retail potential and refurbished, recycled and hallmarked accordingly or melted for their intrinsic value.
Our retail jewellery offering is a mix of second-hand stock and new stock with a good proportion of the new stock containing diamonds and semi-precious stones which have been recycled. We stopped using plastic jewellery boxes several years ago and now provide cardboard or polished wood boxes when we retail jewellery items. We have also introduced paper bags for customers and have where possible recycled older plastic bags.
As part of our foreign currency exchange service, we have moved from a clear plastic bag, which was specifically designed to meet the airport security standards for carry on liquids, to a paper wallet.
Energy & water usage including greenhouse gas emissions
Our main energy use is the heating and lighting of our premises. Smart meters are fitted in many stores with more being fitted on an ongoing basis.
Our water use is relatively low and facilitates staff personal needs as opposed to an operational requirement. Water meters are installed at all stores where possible.
Our greenhouse gas 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 2022 and is compiled in accordance with 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.
In summary, we use energy as we need to heat and light our stores. Our energy use has increased in the last year as our stores have been open for longer as the pandemic restrictions have eased.
We use energy efficient LED lighting in all new stores and have a programme of converting older stores to use more energy efficient LED lighting
Nearly all of our stores have air conditioning and guidance is given to staff on the most efficient way to heat or cool our premises.
We have continued to make greater use of video conferencing thereby reducing business travel but face to face meetings, especially for training purposes, are still required.
While we incur logistic costs and use energy to ship our goods to stores, we use couriers to do so, thereby sharing the transportation energy use with other businesses. We try to minimise the number of deliveries we make while also managing the security aspects of transferring high value parcels.
In 2023, we will reward our branch teams for reduced energy use, creating an incentive to do so for the years ahead.
As part of the purchase of our head office building, we are now able to invest for the long term in renewable energy. We expect to undertake expansion works in 2023 which will involve the fitting of solar panels with the hope that the building can be self-sufficient in energy use.
Packaging used and waste generated by the business
The Group now uses cardboard and wood boxes plus paper bags within our jewellery retail operations. We also now use paper wallets for the issue of foreign currency notes and have stopped re-ordering our re-useable clear plastic wallets which had an alternative use of carrying liquids through airport security checks.
The main waste generated by the business is general e.g. household waste, paper and cardboard. All of our confidential paperwork is shredded and recycled when destroyed.
We work with the company who manages our refuse collections and have provided each location with an ability to recycle and have carried out training to promote recycling by all staff.
Our staff forum ‘Think Green’ initiative continues to make all staff more conscious of energy use, not to print paperwork unless necessary and to re-use and recycle where possible. By influencing staff to be more personally responsible, and to create new behaviours towards energy use and waste at work and at home, we are confident that collectively the Ramsdens team can play its part in improving our environmental footprint.
ESOS Audits and data collection
We have complied with our ESOS audit requirements. Our audits have been undertaken by Green Team Consulting. Through these audits and our wider review, the business has developed a better understanding of its energy use and is using this data to identify and support the various initiatives detailed above.
The Board understands that the Group must play a part in and contribute to the wider society. The same ethos of seeking continuous improvement that is adopted for its customer proposition is adopted for its wider corporate relationships.
The Board continually reviews;
- Ramsdens' responsible lending
- Customer service levels
- Employee relations, engagement and development
- Charitable endeavours
- Supplier relationships including franchisees
Ramsdens responsible lending
Ramsdens is FCA authorised for its consumer credit activities of Pawnbroking and Credit Broking. As such, it is highly regulated and follows the FCA’s 11 principles, adheres to the Senior Management Regime and the Conduct Rules and welcomes the FCA’s New Consumer Duty initiative.
Ramsdens considers itself a responsible lender, offering transparent straightforward loans which are easily understood by customers. Unlike other forms of credit, pawnbrokers can assess creditworthiness based on the value of the goods, which therefore gives wider access to credit to those who may need it most.
Pawnbroking loans are typically small sum and are served face to face which results in a high cost to deliver with interest rates varying from 1.99% - 9.90% per month depending on the loan value. Our mean average loan issued during the year was £271 and our median average loan was £149. Interest is charged on a daily basis so the quicker a customer can repay the less interest is paid. To help facilitate this, Ramsdens has an online facility which is used by customers to repay their loans when convenient for them and then collecting the pledged goods later, thereby saving customer’s money.
We believe that our policies for pawnbroking and looking out for vulnerable customers are industry-leading in treating our customers fairly. The Group understands that circumstances change for customers and Ramsdens works with customers offering tailored financial solutions where necessary, as well as having automatic forbearance interventions that reduce interest rates for customers and in certain instances, stops charging interest altogether.
A pawnbroking loan is a flexible loan in that there are no expected weekly or monthly instalments. The customer chooses when they repay their loan. As such there are no missed payments until the loan period expires. Once a loan approaches its expiry date, Ramsdens contacts its customers to see what they wish to do and as part of that process signposts providers of financial debt advice should a customer need to consider this.
Where a customer’s pledged items do need to be sold to repay the loan, Ramsdens sells items by private treaty, a process that we believe achieves the best return for customers. During this process, Ramsdens caps the interest payable by the customer from the sale of the goods. If the item sells for more than the amount owed to Ramsdens, the surplus monies are returned to the customer. If the item sells for less than the amount is owed, the shortfall is written off by Ramsdens and there are no ongoing debt consequences for the customer.
Customer Service Levels
The Group prides itself on its high repeat customer rates and the low number of complaints it receives.
The Group is committed to offering the highest standards of customer service and appreciates that at times things go wrong. The Ramsdens philosophy is to see every complaint from the customer’s perspective and use a root cause analysis approach to put things right as quickly as possible and learn from any mistakes.
The Group uses Trustpilot for customer feedback on its retail jewellery and foreign currency offerings. Both services currently enjoy excellent 5-star ratings. In addition, from time to time Ramsdens undertakes customer pulse surveys through its branch network to obtain customer feedback. The data is used to improve the Group’s communication strategies.
Employee relations, engagement and development
The people within the business are the reason for the success that the Group has enjoyed and are the fundamental platform on which Ramsdens builds its strategic ambitions. 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 our teams can grow and develop, be looked after, well rewarded and well respected for their contribution.
The pride shown by all of our employees continues to create a working environment of infectious enthusiasm to deliver the Group’s mission statement, namely to provide a great customer offering and give such fantastic service that our customers become ambassadors for Ramsdens. Our aim is to ensure we remain focused on how we communicate and engage with all of our staff members.
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 which have been implemented include changes to the Group’s core IT system which have improved the customer experience and information to the business, as well as suggested changes to the Group’s marketing initiatives, environmental initiatives and staff rewards.
The Group has an Employee Forum which met four times in FY22. The Forum comprises staff in a variety of roles from head office and branches. 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.
Ramsdens undertakes regular anonymous employee engagement surveys. The last survey, undertaken in July 2022, saw 77% of staff members complete the survey. The Board is grateful for the high level of participation. The results of the survey are transparently shared with all staff and an action plan created for the Company to raise the bar where possible as part of its continuous improvement ethos.
The key findings in 2022 were:
57 questions were repeated from 2021 and for 53 of those questions the 2022 responses were more positive than the previous survey which itself had very positive answers. Notably:
- 92% of employees say their branch / department is a happy place to work (2021 - 90%)
- 94% of employees believe they have job security (2021 - 86%)
- 87% of the employees said they look forward to coming to work and are enthusiastic about the job they do (2021 - 84%)
Twice a year, all employees have a face-to-face discussion with their line managers. The discussion focuses on each individual’s happiness and wellbeing, and how supported they feel. The discussion then develops the staff member’s understanding of expectations in their role and staff development activity is agreed in order that the staff member can be more successful in their career. A bespoke training and development plan is then created for that individual.
The Group has comprehensive training programmes. These start with a week-long, classroom-based induction into the business, and are supplemented by instore mentoring, e-learning courses, training delivered remotely e.g. over Zoom and area face to face training sessions. Certain training courses are mandatory and must be completed on an annual basis e.g. health and safety, data protection, FCA conduct rules, 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 jewellery retail results.
Training is also provided on staff wellbeing. The courses are supplemented by an Employee Assistance Program provided by Health Assured. This programme provides hints and tips to manage and improve a staff member’s health and wellbeing but also includes confidential expert advice and support if and when needed.
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 ensuring that people undertaking the same or similar work are paid equally and have an equal opportunity to progress. The Group encourages flexible working arrangements for employees 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 Group has two executive committees. One committee is focused on compliance and risk matters and consists of seven people aged 33 to 57. The committee comprises people in various roles encompassing audit, IT, people and finance. Of the seven members one is currently female. The second committee, which is tasked with delivering the Group’s strategic plan, consists of 15 people representing all disciplines across the Group. The members are aged 33 to 60 and four are female. The committee continues to have great constructive and diverse input to how we move forward.
During the year, the business restructured the management of its store estate, going from four regional managers to three. One regional manager was promoted to Head of People, a key role that will support the Group in delivering its staff development objectives. The three Regional Managers and 15 Area Managers range from 28 to 61 in age. 50% of these roles were promoted from within the business and this level has an equal gender split. Our other key influencers are our field audit team. Three of the six auditors are female and five of the team were promoted from branch roles. 78% of the branch managers are female.
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 prior to the pandemic when only approximately 15% of the employees had service of less than one year. The recruitment and retention situation throughout FY22 has been challenging, in line with other retailers. At the year end, approximately 30% of all employees had less than 12 months’ service. The fact that the Group has been able to produce such good results is testament to the staff development programmes, quality of training and the systems which are in place to help new employees serve customers to the best of their ability.
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, 15 and 20 years’ service and beyond, with additional holidays and financial rewards at those milestones. We were pleased to recognise 31 members of staff who celebrated their 10 years’ service award in 2022.
The Group issues weekly and monthly newsletters, keeping all staff informed on Group matters and recognising the successes of individuals, branches or departments.
The Group has a philosophy of wanting to share the financial success of the business with staff. In recognition of the strong recovery, staff members with at least six months’ service received a ‘thank you’ bonus. This payment was in addition to the other available bonus schemes; cross selling success, branch manager performance bonus and a head office bonus scheme.
Following pay reviews in November 2021, January 2022, and April 2022, all staff were paid at least the recommended real living wage. The pay review in January 2023 will again increase the minimum pay to that of the Real Living Wage. Once trained, staff receive an increase to the basic level of their pay and subject to ongoing progression in their careers, incremental pay awards are available. We are very conscious that the pay of our branch managers and middle managers within head office has been squeezed in recent years as the focus has been on new entrant pay. The pay review in January 2023 will seek to address this. As we move forward, every staff member has the ability to earn a performance-related bonus. The Group has 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 during the year as well as the additional bank holidays.
Our philosophy with the Group’s long term remuneration incentives is to have wider participation across various senior managers, currently 21 participants. The Group offers a Long Term Incentive Plan (LTIP) which is awarded according to performance against targets for EPS growth and total shareholder return, and a Company Share Option Plan scheme (CSOP).
The remuneration of the two Executive Directors is not currently specifically linked to ESG objectives. The Senior Bonus Scheme has various clauses that enables the Remuneration Committee to have discretionary powers over any bonus amounts taking into account all aspects of the business including ESG. All bonus schemes including LTIPs have malus and clawback provisions.
The Group believes it has an obligation to give back where it can and has a programme of supporting local and national charities.
This support has included directly donating, raffle and auction prizes, sponsoring events and the collection of foreign coins. The Group also uses its expertise, including IT skills, to help smaller local businesses and charities.
In FY22, the Group has raised, donated or helped charities directly raise over £19,000. The encashment of the foreign coin collection was delayed beyond the year end and will be included in FY23 figures.
Supplier relationships including franchisees
The Group has a limited number of key trade suppliers. Strong relationships have been built up over many years, with the supplier and Ramsdens working 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 at www.ramsdensplc.com.
The Group has two franchisees operating two franchised stores. All franchised businesses are well established and were audited quarterly to ensure they meet the standards required by Ramsdens.
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 those 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. This is the way in which we seek to manage the business.
While we do not believe that we monitor social and human capital issues to a recognised standard we have a substantial suite of policies that include data security, customer privacy, anti-bribery, combatting modern slavery, whistleblowing, staff welfare, anti-money laundering, as well as adhering to all aspects of the FCA’s Senior Manager Regime and Conduct Rules.
The Group is a member of the QCA and adopts its code of conduct as detailed in our Corporate Governance section on pages 32 to 49 of the FY22 Annual Report.
The Nominations Committee undertakes a board effectiveness review every year and as part of that review discusses diversity and independence. As a result of those deliberations in FY22, Karen Ingham was appointed to the board on 1 November 2022. Further details are included in the Nominations Committee report on page 42 of the FY22 Annual Report.
Further details are provided in The Board and Governance section of our website here.