These are as follows:
(a) the likely consequences of any decision in the long term,
(b) the interests of the company's employees,
(c) the need to foster the company's business relationships with suppliers, customers and others,
(d) the impact of the company's operations on the community and the environment,
(e) the desirability of the company maintaining a reputation for high standards of business conduct, and
(f) the need to act fairly as between members of the company.
The consideration given to each of these matters for Specsavers’ large UK companies is set out below.
In the below discussion, Specsavers means the group's ultimate parent and all its subsidiaries. The board of the company is responsible for fulfilling the company's legal and fiduciary responsibilities. It achieves this in conjunction with two other bodies: the Specsavers Executive Committee (SEC) which is the main decision-making body for Specsavers, the majority of whom are also board members of the group's ultimate parent; and the territory operating boards. These are all internal executive committees with powers delegated from relevant boards, not linked to any one specific company within the organisation, but are responsible for the delivery of the Specsavers strategy within the context of each territory. The SEC directs the overall strategic direction of Specsavers globally; determines risk appetite and control measures; promotes professional standards, corporate responsibility and regulatory compliance; and upholds high customer service standards.
Long term decision making
The SEC had previously created the long term framework which underpinned all strategic decisions taken by the board and was used to deliver the success seen in the financial year under review. However, as a result of the impact of Covid-19 on the business and on the UK economy, the SEC took the decision to stop the long term framework ambitions and focus on a short term framework to recover and rebuild, with the ambition to emerge stronger by 2022 to provide a platform for long term growth. That pivot into a short term framework from a long term framework has not changed the overall vision of changing lives through better sight and hearing, making a positive difference to the lives of all and using our compassion and expertise to help people feel good; cared for; and smart.
Consideration of employee interests
Specsavers’ ethos is to offer inspiring development and fantastic opportunities to our store, support office and other colleagues.
Specsavers recognises the benefits of embracing a diverse and inclusive workforce, in terms of better business performance, more engaged employees, enhanced employer brand and greater innovation. The key focus has been to build a shared basic understanding around diversity and inclusion across the support offices and manufacturing and distribution sites - raising awareness of unconscious bias and encouraging everyone to challenge their own behaviours.
For store colleagues, recognising the importance of convenience and making learning easy to access, Specsavers consolidated our product training content and worked on ways to digitally improve our offering. The result was a mobile-friendly Product Learning Hub and proved that easily accessible, bite-size learning is key to helping our teams offer great service to customers.
Nurturing business relationships with suppliers, customers and partners
Specsavers is passionate about our customers, the lifeblood of our business. It is no secret that our success lies in our unrelenting passion to make a difference for our customers worldwide. Offering the best possible experience, value and choice in eyecare and hearing care ultimately enables us to help our customers live a better quality of life.
Our online appointment system in the UK and Republic of Ireland makes it easy for customers to find their nearest store and book an eye or hearing test at their convenience.
Specsavers is passionate about partnership, which is at the heart of everything we do. The strength of the Specsavers partnership is paramount to our success. Supporting our partners (store director-owners) to lead their teams in making a difference to people’s lives is what sets us apart.
Wherever possible, we develop strong, long-term relationships with our suppliers so that we can work together towards our mission of passionately providing best value optometry, audiology and other healthcare services to everybody, simply, clearly and consistently - exceeding expectations every time.
Specsavers will identify opportunities to share best practice and collaborate with our key supply partnerships to drive improvements.
Community and environmental impact
At Specsavers, we are passionate about giving back to and working with our local communities, wherever in the world we operate. We support many local, national and international causes, and are committed to supporting eyecare and hearing care projects in developing countries.
Our stores and support offices raised over £400,000 for various good causes, including Vision Aid Overseas, Glaucoma UK, Royal Voluntary Service, The Jo Cox Foundation and The Reading Agency.
Specsavers is committed to taking responsibility for the impact our business has on the environment and has adopted a risk-based approach to understanding, minimising and mitigating this impact. This is conducted in line with our values and the responsibilities we have to our customers and our people, as well as our obligations in the countries in which we operate.
Our environmental programme is an important element of our corporate responsibility approach. We understand that both global and local environmental issues can have a wide-reaching and long-term effect on our society, now and in the future. We also require our suppliers to take the necessary steps to protect the environment.
We recognise that the consumption of energy, the use of non-renewable resources, water, plastics and packaging, and waste creation are all things we need to monitor and reduce in every part of our business:
- Our stores account for the largest share of our carbon footprint through the direct and indirect emission of greenhouse gases related to energy use.
- Our manufacturing and distribution sites have a significant carbon impact through energy use, with the additional elements of water, packaging and waste.
- Our support offices also contribute to our carbon impact by using energy for administration and IT infrastructure.
In the current year we:
- Continued to review the installation of smart metering and brought in a new partner and platform for energy data collection and analysis, with the capability of push reporting and alarm reporting.
In 2021/22 Specsavers will, amongst other activities:
- Monitor legislative progress towards and continue to plan for the introduction of the proposed UK plastic packaging tax in 2022
- Finalise the data collection and reporting methodology required for compliance under Streamlined Energy & Carbon Reporting (SECR) mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting for 2021/22
- Monitor legislative progress towards the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) system for packaging due for introduction in the UK in 2023, and better understand the environmental impact of our packaging use, and impact of changes to the legislation
Specsavers has had in place since 2008 a supplier ethical trading code of conduct, which enshrines the key requirements of: obeying all applicable laws, treating people with dignity and respect, protecting the environment and complying with anti-bribery and corruption policies.
Trading ethically is integral to the way we operate. We work to ensure the people who make our products have safe and healthy workplaces, where human and civil rights are protected.
We are committed to our global ethical trading policy and ensure regular, independent audits of all our major suppliers who do not operate in globally-recognised regulatory environments.
Primarily our products come from globally-recognised regulatory environments or factories situated in low and medium-risk countries. We continue to monitor activity in these countries to ensure that slavery and human trafficking does not exist in our supply chain.
Tax payments make a vital contribution to sustaining social welfare, enabling the UK government to fund policies that help people avoid economic hardship. We recognise our responsibility to pay the amount of tax legally due in the country in which that liability arises and to comply with the applicable rules and regulations in each of the countries in which we operate. Our tax strategy in relation to UK activities is published on our website at https://www.specsavers.co.uk/news-and-information/uk-tax-strategy.
Governments, regulators, and consumers have increasing expectations of brands to act in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic required us to reassess our business priorities during 2020/21, we’re now starting to once again focus on strengthening our social and environmental responsibilities.
In 2021/22, Specsavers will:
- Enhance the way we manage ethical trading compliance in our supply chain and across our global estate.
- Focus primarily on supply chain risks associated with employment standards, working environments, business practices, and environmental impacts.
- Deliver new policies, processes, and training to stakeholders to effectively manage these risks.
- Identify and address any key ethical trading risks in our current supply chain.
Treating all shareholders fairly
Specsavers’ large UK companies are 100% owned by Specsavers Optical Group, and Specsavers is jointly owned by DJD and ML Perkins.
A proportion of shares in the store subsidiaries is held by the store partners. In order that the respective rights and responsibilities of the group and partners are clearly and fairly established, a detailed written joint venture agreement is entered into by both parties.