The Board is committed to corporate responsibility and sustainability, and the furtherance of the many and various ESG factors is an integral part of the DNA of the Group. The Board promotes the success of Norcros for the benefit of its shareholders as a whole.
In doing this, the Board takes regular account of many things, including the interests of all employees, the importance of positive relationships with suppliers and customers and the significance of environmental, ethical and social factors affecting the Group. We recognise that management of these matters is key to ensuring the long-term sustainability of our businesses.
We are focused on providing sustainable value creation whilst committed to operating in an ethical, entrepreneurial and responsible manner with the highest standards of corporate governance. Our commitment to uphold the highest level of corporate responsibility, including our supply chain, extends to the priority of minimising our negative impact on the environment and developing a rigorous ESG reporting framework. We are further positioning our businesses and products to benefit and pursue growth opportunities emerging from ESG trends and developments. Our businesses will have a positive impact on the local communities in which they operate and we empower our businesses to support local charities and community projects. We offer our employees a safe and positive working environment within an open, transparent and entrepreneurial culture and de-centralised operating model.
Norcros considers the following as the “building blocks” of a responsible and sustainable business:
The rest of this page looks at each of these in detail.
Care for the environment and sustainability are at the forefront of all our activities and products. The Board recognises that the Group’s activities do have an impact on the environment. We seek to manufacture all our products in a sustainable way and many of the products themselves contain environmental features – for example, our taps and showers encourage water and energy saving and our tiles and adhesives use recycled products where appropriate.
Norcros is committed to minimising this impact by continually improving its efficiency in terms of energy, water and material consumption. One particular area of focus across the Group has been taking steps to reduce plastics, particularly packaging. We also have rigorous programmes to seek to ensure compliance with all environmental legislation and requirements relating to our operations and our products.
The Group aims to minimise its carbon footprint. Its greenhouse gas emissions and energy use are reported on in detail on pages 79 and 80 of the Annual Report 2021. Whilst there has been a significant decrease in overall emissions compared to last year, this has to be considered in the context of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which reduced the Group’s energy consumption markedly, particularly in the early months of the year. In the context of the overall growth in the activities of the Group, relative to revenue, emissions have fallen by 24.9% year on year. Examples of the principal measures taken to improve energy efficiency are given on this page, and also include the introduction of electric vehicles and the promotion of the energy-saving benefits of our products.
For the last 20 years, Johnson Tiles has had a continuous “green policy” with pioneering initiatives. Every aspect of the business is subject to a strict environmental policy, which also includes its suppliers.
Each year, Johnson Tiles recycles 14,000 tonnes of ceramic waste, grinding it and then adding it to the standard ceramic materials, to create a new tile body. Recycling this waste saves 16,800m3 at landfill, and an estimated 235,000 miles of HGV journeys per year.
Second-hand pallets are used and if damaged, they are repaired wherever possible. Pallets beyond repair are sent for chipping and recycling. This saves 1,250 tonnes of virgin timber, approx. 10,000 trees, per year.
Plastic shrink-wrap has been replaced with recyclable corrugated card and the polypropylene strapping used for production boxes has been substituted with a new sugar cane product for pallet stabilisation.
Energy and water
By re-using 32,000m3 of water per year (30% of the total factory usage) and removing water from another part of the production process, Johnson Tiles can save an additional 2,100m3 of water per year.
In 2001, the new single fired production plant was re-sited, dropping the annual energy consumption from 195 million kWh of energy to 130 million kWh, while raising production from 53,000 tonnes of ceramic tiles in 2001 to 56,000 tonnes by 2019. This is an energy saving of 35% per tonne of ceramic tile, equating to 68 million kWh per year. By speeding up its kilns, using automatic light sensors and re-using kiln exit heat, consumption has been cut even further, saving around 9% of gas.
Johnson Tiles is the only UK tile manufacturer to use the most energy-efficient production process of a single fire.
Following a successful period of activities to reduce its impact on the environment, Triton Showers has committed to a number of new, bold goals.
The ambitious targets include a further reduction in gas and electricity use by 5%, as well as a 20% reduction in packaging.A concerted effort to reduce water usage by 7% has led to the introduction of two new water meters to help identify where the majority of water is being consumed. With production and the lab facility being singled out as key users, plans are now afoot to conserve the resource as much as possible.
Further developments to maintain its zero waste to landfill status has led to the purchase of a brand-new shrink wrap machine in 2019 which provides a 3,180kg reduction in material used, thanks to the equipment being able to stretch the existing shrink film two and half times more than the original.
Staying with packaging, Triton has pledged to minimise its usage by 20%. As a result, new tote boxes have been introduced to eliminate the repacking of items internally.Not resting on its laurels, Triton has challenged suppliers to remove unnecessary extras, such as tissue paper, bubblewrap and strapping used on the outer boxes. As a result, two out of three suppliers have invested in re-useable plastic containers, which has meant that Triton has seen significant reductions in the amount of cardboard being received from UK suppliers.
The problem with the introduction of the new 4 in 1 range, a rapid setting,antibacterial grout for walls and floors, Norcros Adhesives has seen a significant growth in demand for this product.The product has versatility with 15 different colours and the new efflorescence-free formulation helps to reduce the migration of salt to the surface of the grout.
The solution Norcros Adhesives has seen a programme of consistent investment in its manufacturing capacity with efficiency and environmental benefits. The latest being the installation of new "Form, Fill & Seal” equipment, to enhance both capacity and speed, as well as the new “blown air” in feed, which transports the powdered materials throughout the production line.It has also seen the introduction of a new ERP and warehouse system, in addition to the new packaging equipment.
The result The latest investment has resulted in new efficiencies and improvements in the production process. The new equipment is three times faster and brings with it a number of benefits,i.e. there is no requirement to produce labels for each pouch,saving both paper and operative time, and the machines enable the use of a new high quality bag, which exceeds the standard industry drop-test requirements keeping customers’ displays clean and free of grout dust.
Our lifeblood as a business is our innovative product portfolio. Within this we include many features that promote sustainability. We give examples on this page and also elsewhere in the Strategic Report section of the Annual Report 2021.
Being “eco-friendly” means living in a way that is not harmful to the environment. We have seen an increase in sales of reusable coffee cups, plastic straws being banned in bars and restaurants and brands like Evian promising to manufacture packaging from recycled materials.
For Abode, this presents an opportunity to focus on the solutions that aid the fight against single-use plastics and underlie the development of eco-friendly products such as water filter taps with Puria and Swich.
The Puria tap is a slimline and cost-effective water filter tap giving consumers more design choice and a more inviting price base, encouraging upgrade from a standard tap to a filtered water tap, and replacing bottled water with unlimited fresh, filtered drinking water on demand.
The innovative Abode Swich water filter diverter can transform any tap, new or old, into a filtered water tap enabling households to live more sustainably by reducing their use of plastic water bottles.
The Board ensures effective engagement with, and encourages participation from, all employees. There are many aspects to employee engagement including induction processes, communications, feedback, surveys and appraisals. The importance of good relations with all employees is well recognised and accepted throughout the Group. The Group is fully committed to keeping its employees informed about their work unit and the wider business, but because the Group’s activities are generally organised on a de-centralised basis, with each operating business having a reasonable degree of autonomy over its operations, there is no uniform set of arrangements for employee involvement imposed throughout the Group. Nevertheless, all businesses in the Group are strongly encouraged to devise and adopt whatever means of employee involvement best suits their circumstances. Amongst other things, employee communications focus on achieving a common awareness of the financial and economic factors affecting the performance of the business. Our approach to employee engagement provides flexibility and enables divisional management to tailor its many activities to the needs of its particular business. The Board stays in touch with all our employees via regular meetings with divisional management and, where this is practicable, site visits to our operations and receives reports on employee matters. Employees are encouraged to be involved in the Company’s performance through employee shares schemes, and other means of incentivisation and reward. In order to monitor employee engagement, the principal businesses within the Group conduct regular employee surveys as part of the business’s engagement programme, and other businesses have survey processes planned. With the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, the emphasis as regards employees necessarily switched to employee welfare and engagement on the impact of COVID-19 on the business and support to all employees affected directly or indirectly by it. Throughout this difficult time all our businesses have maintained good engagement with their employees.
Training and development
Across Norcros, great emphasis is placed on the recruitment, training and development of our people. All businesses have training programmes for staff and we have examples of best practice regarding management development. Norcros also recognises the need to train its staff, in order to give them the necessary skills to perform their duties to the high standards required.
We are committed across all Norcros businesses to education and career development.
Diversity and inclusiveness
Our people are key to our success as a business and we value the individuality and diversity that each employee brings. Prior to any senior appointment, the Nomination Committee ensures the best person for the role is appointed and in doing so gives due consideration to gender and diversity.
At senior leadership levels 18% of employees are female.
The Group will in due course publish its 2020 gender pay gap statistics for its UK employees in accordance with the Gender Pay Gap Reporting Regulations. These will be available on our website. They will continue to show the existence of a gender pay gap which ranks us towards the middle of the ranking of the reporting entities, using the “mean average hourly rate” measure.
The Board of Norcros plc is committed to gender equality and is satisfied that there is no pay inequality at Norcros – men and women are paid equally for equal work. However, for historical and sociological reasons, there is a preponderance of male employees in some areas of the business, particularly in senior roles. This generates a gender pay gap, as these roles tend to be better paid and receive larger bonuses. As stated above, the Board is committed to promoting diversity in all its forms and will seek to address the causes of this imbalance, where this is practicable.
The Group recognises its responsibilities towards disabled persons and therefore all applications from such persons are fully and fairly considered bearing in mind the respective aptitudes and abilities of the applicant. In the event of existing employees becoming disabled, every effort is made to ensure that their employment with the Group continues and that appropriate training is arranged. It is the policy of the Group that the training, career development and promotion of disabled persons should, as far as possible, be identical to that of an able-bodied person.
Gender of Directors and employees1
For the third time, Merlyn’s customer care team was awarded the highly coveted Team of the Year at the Irish Customer Contact & Shared Services Awards 2020. The company also won the National Buying Group (NBG) Supplier of the Year in the Plumbing, Heating & Showrooms category for the third year in a row.
The awards recognise the accomplishments of key individuals, team and brands within the contact centre industry, in sales, customer service and technical support.
“Our people are key to our success as a business. Merlyn staff have won praise for their focus on its customers throughout the pandemic, achieving high customer satisfaction levels, despite managing double the contact volumes.”
Technology is constantly changing, not least in the plumbing industry, with new trends such as the digital shower revolution seeing more and more installers returning to the classroom to get up to speed.
In 2019, Triton Showers trained more than 100 installers at its specialist facility in Warwickshire and visited a further 500 at colleges across the UK. Triton provides two-day courses covering electric, mixer and power showers.
Paul Rowley, Approvals & Training Manager, said: “In order to ensure all installers are able to access valuable resources, we want to be able to share information in a number of different ways. This includes producing video content and advice led pieces in the trade press and communicating in person. “We have found that the most effective way to build knowledge is to meet face to face with trade professionals.
This is why we place such importance on attending key exhibitions like Installer 2019. It gives us the chance to meet new people so we can boost awareness of our products and key technology. During such events, we can gain a better understanding of where plumbers need more support. “Our training doesn’t stop with qualified professionals though; helping apprentices to learn the plumbing essentials is also a key focus. We work closely with colleges across the UK to help educate the next generation, giving them hands-on practical experience.”
Our commitment to the society in which we operate is deep. Every Group business has programmes of social engagement, including many charitable activities. Each business has a track record of supporting local and national charities and other voluntary sector organisations. Given our de-centralised structure, business units in the Group are encouraged to become involved in and support local initiatives where possible. The Executive Management of the Group supports this commitment to our society and reviews each business’s activities on a monthly basis. Some particularly noteworthy examples of our commitment to the society in which we operate are given in the case studies within this section of the website.
4GoodPPE, the COVID-19 relief charity, creates environmentally friendly eye visors using biodegradable acetate and MDF frames, which are then distributed to healthcare workers, shops and groups within the local community.
Croydex understands the importance of giving back to the local community and wanted to make sure it assisted wherever it could. It has been able to provide the charity with re-usable packaging to help it make and distribute boxes of visors to those struggling to obtain PPE.
Triton has donated much needed supplies to The Trussell Trust Nuneaton Foodbank, marking the beginning of a long-term commitment to supporting families in its local community.
The Trussell Trust has been running since 2013, supporting a nationwide network of food banks to provide emergency food for people dealing with poverty throughout the UK.
Triton’s initiative, which was developed by its employees, involved the team coming together to donate more than 226kg of food, toiletries and toys.
As part of its commitment to support the government’s SAFE initiative, Tile Africa, a division of Norcros South Africa, over the last two years, has been working to upgrade school bathroom facilities for students at needy schools.Most recently Tile Africa assisted Nokwazi Junior Secondary School with new toilets for its learners. This is the first of five schools that the company has pledged to assist with providing bathroom facilities.
The Nokwazi School had no pre-existing bathrooms for its approximately 350 students. Located in rural Ladyfrere, Eastern Cape, the project presented some unique challenges, foremost being the fact there was no running water at the school. A two-fold approach was applied to solve this.Once construction was complete, Enviro-loo were contracted to deliver a sustainable waste management solution, the urinals and toilets operated on dry sanitation systems using sun and wind to transform human waste into a safe, stabilised material without the use of water, electricity or chemicals. For the basins, Tile Africa drilled a borehole in order to provide running water for the children.House of Plumbing, also a division of Norcros South Africa, supplied resin-based basins for the project, which are extremely strong and will not crack or chip, as traditional porcelainware can.
Norcros SA noticed that there was no formal kitchen space for school meals, so the team decided to go the extra mile and convert a storage container into a kitchen, with running water piped into the sinks from the new borehole. It trained community members in Ladyfrere on how to tile, in order to uplift their skills, and to enable future maintenance and repairs of the facilities. A supply of spare tiles and adhesives were left at the school for this purpose. Finally, a cleaner was also hired for the first three months and the division plans to return to the school by the end of the year to provide toiletries for the students.
The Donna Louise Hospice for children and young people provides a lifeline to hundreds of families across Staffordshire and South Cheshire who are facing every parent’s worst nightmare, the heartbreaking knowledge that they will almost certainly outlive their child.
April saw the completion of a striking vibrant blue butterfly sculpture in Trentham Gardens, Stoke on Trent, crafted by Johnson Tiles and Wade Ceramics.
Each butterfly is unique and has been crafted by Johnson Tiles, also the maker of the poppies for the internationally acclaimed Tower of London art installation. The butterflies were then glazed and finished by Wade Ceramics in Stoke on Trent. The project, which featured a total of 5,000 ceramic butterflies, was opened in May 2019 with the help of more than 30 businesses, which pledged their support.
The inaugural Vado Velo has raised a staggering £75,000 for charity after members of the KBB industry embarked on a gruelling 240-mile cycle ride through Northern France.Raising money for the African Children’s Fund (ACF), 38cyclists were challenged to a three-day voyage from Calais to Reims, via Arras and St Quentin. All participants were tasked with raising up to £2,250 each, with all funds to be donated to the ACF’s Kenyan Schools Programme to aid six schools located around Thika, a small town near Nairobi, Kenya.Departing Calais on 6 September 2019, cyclists travelled approximately 80 miles per day for three days, experiencing steep inclines, multiple punctures and various tyre replacements. To compensate for such arduous challenges, cyclists were treated to breath-taking landscapes, cultural land marks and well-deserved hospitality, courtesy of CCDGlobal Events.
Aiming initially to raise £55,000 for the ACF, the Vado Velo smashed its target sum, leaving the event organisers from the Vado sales team delighted at the event’s debut success.
Merlyn, the UK’s leading shower enclosure company, is delighted to be working with renowned breast cancer charity The Pink Ribbon Foundation in a partnership set to raise funds and awareness that will ultimately save lives.Keen to harness the positive power that a daily shower can have in our lives, Merlyn is initiating the campaign called “#justareminder…”, a simple, stickered prompt of the instantly recognisable Pink Ribbon symbol displayed on enclosures, accompanied by point of sale material and information in Merlyn’s bid to get the message across. Merlyn are also supporting The Pink Ribbon Foundation financially by organising and taking part in a series of fundraising events.
Sound corporate governance is at the heart of everything we do. Our commitment to good governance and our performance in this regard are set out on pages 50 to 53 of the Annual Report 2021.
Our corporate values focus on respect, integrity and fairness. We are committed to respecting the dignity of the individual and to support the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and other core conventions. As a result the Directors do not consider human rights issues to be a material risk for the Group, principally due to the existing regulatory frameworks in place in the UK and South Africa, being the primary geographical locations in which we operate. In South Africa, the businesses are cognisant of their responsibilities under the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment legislation. In addition, the Group has its Modern Slavery Act statement and a policy in support of this.
The Group aims to act with integrity towards all stakeholders in its businesses and respects the laws, regulations and customs in all the countries within which it operates. The Group makes every effort to ensure its employees are aware of, and comply with, the relevant business’s ethical code.
The Group has implemented an anti-bribery policy to comply with the Bribery Act 2010. Appropriate procedures are in place at each location to mitigate the risk of any employee committing an offence under this Act.
We have published a Modern Slavery Act statement, which emphasises the Group’s commitment to the eradication of slavery and human trafficking, both within Norcros and in its supply chains.
In order to promote an open culture of legal and ethical compliance, the Group has in place global “whistleblowing” procedures across all its locations, so that any concerns can be raised. During the year, the Audit and Risk Committee reviewed these arrangements and is satisfied that all Group employees may, in confidence, raise concerns about possible improprieties.
We seek to create and maintain long-term relationships with all our business partners, including our key suppliers, and often work together with suppliers, business partners and customers to develop new products and improve existing ones. The Group publishes its supplier payment data for the UK in accordance with supplier payment reporting regulations.
Triton, the leading shower manufacturer, has launched a new initiative to provide virtual guidance when needed most. With an increasing demand for digital resources, Triton has collated a series of Installer Head Cam step-by-step videos, aimed at supporting installers with some of the most common technical issues.
The demonstrations provide a “hands-on” view through the use of a head camera to capture the troubleshooting process from the tradesperson’s point of view, making them easy to follow. The clips cover a range of topics and are available to access on Triton’s YouTube channel, allowing installers to watch them anywhere.
The Group maintains a whistleblowing policy and engages two independent confidential whistleblowing service providers, one covering South Africa specifically and the other covering all other locations. Reports on the use of these services, any significant concerns that have been raised, details of investigations carried out and any actions arising as a result are reported to the Committee at each meeting.
The Committee also receives papers on incidents of fraud or attempted fraud and reviews them at each meeting. At least annually, the Committee conducts an assessment of the adequacy of the Group’s procedures in respect of compliance, whistleblowing and fraud.