We have an ongoing conscious review of our environmental impact and what we can do to improve it. This ethos has been in place for many years.
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
Pawnbroking is a service which uses an asset owned by a customer to obtain a loan. Hopefully the customer repays the loan and is able to borrow again but if they do not, the asset pledged is either refurbished and recycled 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 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 metal service. We buy from customers unwanted, damaged or un-hallmarked jewellery items. Those items are assessed for retail and refurbished and recycled accordingly or melted for its 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.
As part of our foreign currency exchange service, we issue the foreign currency notes in a clear plastic bag which was specifically designed to meet the airport security standards for carry on liquids. As airport security evolves to remove the need for this clear bag we will review how we package our currency notes for customers.
Energy & water usage including greenhouse gas emissions
Our main energy use is the heating and lighting of our premises. Smart meters are fitted in some 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 need. Water meters are installed at some stores with more being fitted on an ongoing basis.
Our greenhouse gas emissions are reported in our annual report and repeated here for completeness.
The data 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.
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.
It should be noted that the closure of stores due to the pandemic, some employees working from home and a general reduction in business operations resulted in a material reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions in the reported 18 months period.
As we have re-opened stores and open new stores our energy use will increase but in its simplest form we need to heat and light our stores.
We now use energy efficient LED lighting in all new stores and have a program of converting older stores to use LED lighting to make our energy use more efficient.
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.
During the pandemic there has been a reduction in business travel and greater use of tele and video conferencing. This change in behaviour is one that will last beyond the pandemic.
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.
At this time we do not have defined metrics or targets on the reduction in our energy and water use. This will evolve as we determine the most suitable reporting measure.
Packaging used and waste generated by the business
As above we have stopped using plastic boxes within our jewellery retail operations. We retain the use of a plastic bag for the issue of foreign currency notes as the bag has an intended second use at airports.
The waste mainly generated by the business is general waste 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 where appropriate, shopping centre landlords, to improve the amount of waste we recycle.
Our staff forum has established a ‘Think Green’ initiative 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, create new behaviours towards energy use and waste, hopefully collectively, at work and at home, we can play our 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 Tree 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.
Ramsdens considers itself a responsible lender, offering transparent simple 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. In previous customer surveys, the cost of a pawnbroking loan is often cheaper than people assume with interest accruing on a daily basis.
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. This saves the customer 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 as we believe this gets 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 what is owed to Ramsdens the surplus monies are returned to the customer. If the item sells for less than what is owed, the shortfall is written off by Ramsdens and there are no ongoing debt consequences for customers.
Customer Service Levels
The Group prides itself on its high repeat customer rates and the low number of complaints it receives.
Ramsdens are committed to offering the highest standards of customer service and appreciate that at times things go wrong. 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 uses Trustpilot for customer feedback on its retail jewellery and foreign currency offerings. Both services currently enjoy excellent 5 star ratings.
The Group, from time to time, undertakes customer pulse surveys through its branch network to obtain customer feedback. The data is used to improve the Group’s communication and marketing strategies.
Employee relations, engagement and development
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 groups 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 2020 through to July 2020 inclusive. By August 2020 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, training delivered remotely e.g. over zoom 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, 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 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 Group encourages flexible working arrangements for people to continue to develop their careers whilst choosing how to maintain their balance between work and home life. The Group reports on its Gender Pay results here.
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 32 to 56. 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, last meeting in March 20 just prior to the COVID -19 lockdown. The 2021 meeting is still to be finalised but the development of these key people influencers is at the core of the Group’s Senior Management Leadership development programme. Recent training has included mental wellbeing which has been useful given all things related to COVID-19.
Where possible, the Group wishes to promote from within. Three of the Four Regional Managers, five of the twelve 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.
The Group issues a weekly and monthly newsletter keeping all staff informed on Group matters and recognising the successes of individuals, branches or departments.
The Group has an Employee Forum which has met three times in 2021. The Forum comprises staff in a variety of roles from head office and branches in every country in which we operate. 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 had over 85% staff 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 next survey is planned to take place in summer of 2021.
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, 20 years’ service and beyond, with additional holidays and financial rewards at those milestones. We were pleased to recognise three 20 years service awards in the last reporting period.
The Group has a philosophy of wanting to share the financial success of the business with staff. Despite the trading challenges of COVID-19, 99% of all staff received a minimum of inflationary pay rise in 2021 and staff following successful completion of their probationary period with the Group are paid more than the national minimum wage. In addition to their basic remuneration of pay and pension, each member of staff in head office or branch has had 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.
Our philosophy with the Long Term Incentive Plan (LTIP) is to be inclusive with wider senior manager participation (now 21 participants). 50% of the LTIP award is based on earnings per share and 50% based on total shareholder return.
The remuneration of the two executive directors is not currently directly 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 has a program of supporting local and national charities and have used our commercial assets to do this e.g. using our sponsorship of Middlesbrough Football Club and Sheffield United Football Club to raise funds for charity. The biggest fund raiser was putting the name of two charities, based locally to Ramsdens head office, on the shirts. This not only raised great awareness in local and national media, we raised over £18,000 from the sale of the shirts for the charities.
Recent initiatives have involved 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.
In the last reporting period, the Group has raised or helped charities directly raise over £14,000.
Some of the charities supported are listed below:
Supplier relationships including 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 here.
The Group has three franchisees operating three franchised stores. All franchised businesses are well established and 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 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. This is the way in which we seek to manage the business.
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, 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 Annual Report.
The Nominations Committee undertakes a board effectiveness review every year and as part of that review discusses diversity and independence.
Further details are provided in The Board and Governance section of our website here.