The following sets out the main principles of good governance in the 2014 UK Corporate Governance Code that have been followed by the Board and how those principles have been applied. The Directors are of the opinion that the Company has complied with the provisions of the UK Corporate Governance Code (which is publicly available at www.frc.org) throughout the year except:
- The Non-Executive Directors do not have a specific period for their appointment.
Reasons for its non-compliance are set out below.
Role of The Board
The Group is directed and controlled by the Board. It provides strategic leadership and support with the aim of developing the business profitably, whilst at the same time assessing and managing the associated risks. The Board ensures that the financial management, controls and resources are in place to enable the business to meet its objectives. The Directors take collective responsibility for the Group’s performance.
The Board has a formal schedule for reviewing the Group’s operating performance and has other specific responsibilities reserved to it, which include:
- Approval of the published financial results and dividends;
- Appointments to the Board and other Board committees;
- Approval of the strategic direction of the business;
- Approval of expenditure over certain limits;
- Approval for acquisitions and disposals;
- Approval of treasury policy and significant new financing; and
- Approval of the funding policies of the defined benefit pension scheme.
The Chairman is responsible for leadership of the Board. The responsibilities of the Chairman are set out clearly in a written document approved by the Board.
The Executive Directors manage the day to day operations of the business within the framework set out by the Board. Outside the formal schedule of Board meetings the Chairman and Non-Executive Directors make themselves available for consultation with the Executive team as necessary.
All Directors have access to the advice and services of the Company Secretary, who is responsible to the Board for ensuring that Board procedures are complied with. The Company Secretary is responsible for advising the Board, through the Chairman, on all governance matters.
The appointment and removal of the Company Secretary is a matter for the Board as a whole.
The Board has a schedule of seven pre-arranged meetings during the year. In addition, such other meetings as are required are arranged to deal with specific issues or transactions. During the year there was full attendance at all pre-arranged Board meetings, except that Dr Krishnamurthy Rajagopal was unavailable for one meeting.
The Board undertook a rigorous self assessment review during the year to consider its own performance. The procedures included individual interviews by the Chairman with each Director, completion of an assessment form and discussion of the findings at a Board meeting. The Senior Independent Non-Executive Director maintains regular contact with the other Independent Non-Executive Directors and the Executive Directors, sufficient to monitor the performance of the Chairman. The Chairman, in consultation with the Executive Directors, monitors the performance of the Non-Executive Directors.
Board of Directors
The Board consists of five Directors; two Executive Directors and three Non-Executive Directors, including the Chairman. The Board is chaired by Charles Matthews. Ben Stocks is the Group Chief Executive and Chris Tyler is the Group Finance Director. Paul Dean, Charles Matthews and Dr Krishnamurthy Rajagopal are Independent Non-Executive Directors. Paul Dean is the Senior Independent Non-Executive Director. The Board considers that Charles Matthews continues to be an Independent Non-Executive Director after his appointment as Chairman. Notwithstanding the fact that he has been a Director on the Board for a period in excess of nine years he continues to be independent in character and judgement.
The Directors’ appointment and removal is a matter for the Board as a whole. The Senior Non-Executive Director is available for consultation with shareholders through the Company Secretary, by written submission. The Executive Directors and the Chairman have met with the Company’s major shareholders and other potential investors on a regular basis and have reported to the Board on those meetings.
The Non-Executive Directors’ terms of appointment do not specify a specific period for their appointment and therefore the terms are not in compliance with provision B.2.3 of the UK Corporate Governance Code. However, in accordance with best practice all of the Directors offer themselves for re-election at each Annual General Meeting. All newly appointed Directors offer themselves for election at the first Annual General Meeting following their appointment. The Chairman has conducted interviews and assessments with each Director and the performance of the Executive Directors has been considered in detail by the Remuneration Committee. The Senior Non- Executive Director has reviewed the performance of the Chairman in consultation with the other Directors. The Chairman considers that, following the application of the Board’s formal performance evaluation programme, each Director’s performance continues to be effective and each Director has demonstrated ommitment to his role. On joining the Board a new Director receives appropriate induction including meeting with other Directors, visiting the Group’s principal operations and meeting with senior management and the Group’s principal advisers.
The Board has put in place a procedure by which any Director may take independent professional advice at the expense of the Company in furtherance of his duties as a Director of the Company.
The Company maintains Directors’ and Officers’ liability insurance.