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Why is it important?

Striving for continuous improvement across our four sustainability pillars is essential to support the long-term success and sustainability of the Group. Delivering value, in an ethical and transparent manner, helps to build strong relationships with customers, suppliers and shareholders, increasing our prospects of accessing new business opportunities.

Management approach

As outlined in the 'principles of governance' section below, our interactions with stakeholders are governed by several key corporate policies and procedures, including modern slavery, human rights, anti-bribery, competition law and whistleblowing. Our policies require us to conduct our business in an open and honest way, and, as a result, we aim to have a positive impact on our local communities in which we operate.

Much of the value the Group creates is redistributed throughout the local communities, through payments to local suppliers, to our local workforce (wages and benefits), to the Group's providers of our financing facilities and other capital providers (interest payments, loan repayments and dividends) and as donations to local charities and community groups supported by our colleagues.

We acknowledge that improving our sustainability performance is only possible if we collaborate with businesses that share our commitment. Our supply chain predominantly consists of subcontractors working on our sites, and materials suppliers. We have a comprehensive Group-wide supplier accreditation process, managed through our central procurement team, which continually assesses our supply chain on areas including quality, safety, responsible manufacturing and ethical resourcing to ensure compliance with the Group's policies.

Through our central engineering team and Project Horizon (our new digitisation project), we are constantly striving to develop innovative products and services that deliver positive environmental or social outcomes through the value chain and will contribute to the Group's sustainable growth. In order to achieve this aim, the recruitment, development and retention of highly skilled employees who are proficient in new and emerging digital technologies is key and aligns to our second sustainability focus area of 'people'.

Our progress against our targets

During the year, the Group generated economic value of £491.8m (2022: £403.6m), an increase of 22 per cent from the prior year and distributed £467.5m (2022: £382.7m), resulting economic value retained of £27.1m (2022: £21.0m).

In 2023, the Group continued its work to embed its sustainability framework into our purpose and corporate strategy and further evolve our sustainability reporting to provide our stakeholders with transparent and useful information on the Group's climate-related risks and opportunities, in line with the TCFD recommendations. External advisers were appointed to support management with this task and to help model the climate change scenarios, which are disclosed on Building a Responsible and Sustainable Business.

We continued our engagement with our key suppliers and customers to help drive the steel industry's transition to low embodied carbon steel production. We are involved in the supply chain project with Balfour Beatty, demonstrating how we are engaged in their ambition to 'Green the Chain' since the supply chain is responsible for c.80 per cent of the construction sectors emissions.

The Group's high-quality order book of £510 at 1 June 2023 (2022: £464m at 1 November 2022) contains c. 50 per cent of value from projects that are contributing to positive environmental outcomes, including battery plants and projects developing the UK's rail infrastructure, especially, but not limited to, those for HS2 and the electrification of the rail network.

Similarly, the current level of tendering and pipeline activity across the Group is very encouraging and also includes a good proportion of projects which will contribute to a global green, more sustainable economy, including additional rail infrastructure projects and fabrication of wind turbine blades.

During the year, 100 per cent (2022: 100 per cent) of the Group's suppliers were subject to our annual supply chain contractor due diligence reviews to ensure our supply chain maintains the highest operational and ethical standards. Our commitment to bring our supply chain along on our sustainability journey is underpinned by our 'very good' BES 6001 accreditation and 'A minus' CDP supplier engagement rating.

Recognising the importance of dividends to our shareholders and to our investment case, we paid ordinary dividends of £9.9m (2022: £9.2m), a 7.6 per cent increase on the prior year.

2024 areas of focus:

  • Continue to engage with key suppliers on the availability of low-carbon steel.

  • Continue to develop and incorporate new product development processes through Project Horizon and investment in research and development.