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"As a people-led business, we adopt responsible and ethical working practices to protect and enhance the communities and environments in which we operate."

Our people

Our employees are our greatest asset and are trained to meet our requirements of efficiency and service to customers and suppliers.

The Group recognises that its performance and ongoing success are directly related to the quality and effective performance of employees. It is the policy of the Group to ensure that employees are able to improve their performance by having appropriate access to effective training, development, coaching and counselling facilities. Induction training sets the foundation for all employees and introduces the Group's operational best and required practices which are documented in comprehensive SPIs. This is followed by specific on-the-job training, in-house or at accredited third parties. Many of our engineering apprentices attend courses with the National Fluid Power Centre (NFPC), an independent training body. Where the demands of the business allow, flexible working is encouraged. Across the Group, over 190 employees attended some form of training course in 2017.

The Company is an Equal Opportunity Employer. This means that the Company's established policy is to ensure that no unlawful discrimination occurs, either directly or indirectly, against any person on the grounds of colour, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, race, religion, nationality, ethnic or national origin or age.

The Company's policy covers direct and indirect discrimination and failure to make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees, victimisation and harassment.

Health and safety

Health and safety is taken very seriously by management at all levels in the Group and our accident rates are very low with no RIDDOR incidents during the year. The workforce has almost doubled and minor incidents have understandably increased but only 31 were reported across 522 employees. Overall two days were lost. We are working to standardise procedures in the UK and after a market review we are now working with Croner at nine Group sites to develop common procedures and will continue to roll out their programme in 2018.

Apprentices

Many of our businesses have a long tradition of apprenticeships. Through training and encouragement, we nurture and develop local talent and support school leavers seeking commercial or engineering experience. We enjoy a high retention rate as most apprentices go on to secure permanent positions with us. In 2017 we retained five apprentices across the Group, one in the FTUK call centre, one engineer at Group HES and three engineers at Primary Fluid Power.

Number of apprentices:

G = graduated or left, N = new, C = current (year end)

See table below.

Company201720162015
GNCGNCGNC
Primary Fluid Power401125214
FTUK114044000
Orange County013112022
Group HES137235324
Hi-Power 001001001
TOTAL161711

Diversity

We recognise and value all forms of diversity in our employees and endeavour to promote diversity in our workplace to enhance the success of our Group. We currently employ 29% females across the Group with 50% of senior management positions at our Skelmersdale office occupied by females.

Our customers

The Group values each customer regardless of size and is committed to developing mutually beneficial relationships at local, national and international level. All divisions have a customer-centric approach and it is vitally important for to us to work closely with the customer base to understand the underlying drivers in their marketplace. Continued dialogue has enabled the Group to develop its product and service offer and so match these changing requirements.

During 2017, FTUK introduced a new 'out-of-hours' service to support customers with critical emergencies. They also upgraded their e-commerce app to support ordering convenience on mobile and tablet devices and easy stock replenishment with a handy barcode scanner feature. Indequip has enabled Irish customers to trade in their own currency by printing a Euro-version of the distributor catalogue, which they design and print for customers with their own company branding. As specialists within fluid power, increasingly our PMC businesses are providing training as part of the installation service, enabling us to help our customers create a safer working environment for their own teams.

Suppliers

The Group nurtures its relationships with leading fluid power suppliers while developing its complementary exclusive brands and own manufactured products. We have a dedicated team in Shanghai to manage relationships with our Far Eastern suppliers, ensuring we can overcome local cultural and language barriers.

This year we have secured many new distribution agreements across the Group which further expands our product portfolio to existing customers and enables us to secure business with new customers.

Three significant developments include the Parker Partnership with Group HES, the launch of Techmatic, a new exclusive pneumatic brand for Indequip and a new hose service for Flowtechnology Benelux through the acquisition of Hewi Slangen in September 2017.

Representatives from all business units in the Group either exhibited at or attended over 15 supplier and end user trade shows in 2017 in the UK, Europe and Asia. The FTUK 2017 Distributor Convention, held under the wings of Concorde in Manchester, was attended by over 40 suppliers, a 25% increase on previous years. This year all PMC division members exhibited as one 'Fluidpower Group' at the Lamma 2017 agricultural and machinery show, promoting a complete hydraulic offering to the market and reducing the cost of exhibiting independently. The Group continues to build relationships with trade associations including the BFPA, FADA and NFPC. John Farmer from FTUK joined the BFPA board, taking a more active role with numerous recommendations being acted upon. Furthermore, FTUK hosted its first BFPA seminar at its newly refurbished premises.

The environment

The Group is mindful of the impact that its operations have on the environment and is committed to reduce its carbon footprint. Amongst the measures in place are:

  • We recycle as much 'waste' as possible in the form of plastic, paper, metals and cardboard. In Benelux they are proud to achieve 100% recycling on all paper and plastic. Three new lifts have enabled the distribution centre to reduce packaging by £20k which is 12% of their annual costs. At Orange County UK they recycle 100% of oil rags. At most warehousing and production sites, paper and cardboard is shredded and reused again in packaging. FTUK, Indequip and Group HES have removed personal bins in the offices in favour of designated recycling bins for various materials
  • The Group fleet utilises the BMW efficient-dynamics range whenever possible and encourages employees to share the benefits through a salary sacrifice scheme for personal use
  • We reduce energy use through low energy lighting and motion sensitive lighting in our warehouses and newer meeting rooms
  • Over 80% of Group HES's power is generated by solar panels which were fitted in 2014. Furthermore, the company currently has three electric company cars and two charging points onsite. They aim to have all 15 vehicles replaced with electric alternatives by 2020. We aim to share such initiatives across the Group
  • Encouraging cycle use through local government initiatives in both the UK and the Netherlands
  • Wherever possible orders and invoices to suppliers and customers are sent via Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) with a consequent reduction in the use of paper
  • Adopting digitalised processes – including use of scanners, dropbox for data sharing. This year Hydroflex went more than 90% paperless, assisted by their customer scan2order system, which sees customers using a supplied barcode scanner to order product
  • Financial reports are issued to the majority of shareholders as an interactive report on our website

Community

Bringing together employees outside of work promotes cohesion in the workplace. Employees are encouraged to participate in regular fundraising events for local and national charities.

  • This year FTUK donated over £4,000 through various activities including a summer open day and Christmas pantomime for staff and family, charity raffle at their annual convention and various dress down days
  • Local football sponsorship is encouraged to support junior teams in the community and with both Primary Fluid Power and FTUK management actively involved with playing and coaching for local teams including Quarry Green FC, Skelmersdale United Youth Academy and Wigan Ladies Football Club
  • Group HES is active in the community, sponsoring various local events such as cycling and paint festivals for local hospitals and homeless charities as well as raising money for national charities. This year they also sponsored Project Propeller 2017 at Staverton Airport, which sees over 150 World War II aircrew flown in by volunteers across the UK. Collectively they contributed over £2,500 in donations and sponsorships throughout 2017

Recognition

Nominated for Best Online Report: AIM/small cap, Flowtech Fluidpower plc was delighted to be recognised at the prestigious 2017 Corporate & Finance Awards, receiving a Silver Winner for its 2017 Annual Report alongside its preferred IR media partner, Jones and Palmer.

Investors

The Board presents to our investors at least twice a year and is available for meeting with existing and new investors by appointment through our joint brokers, Zeus Capital and finnCap.

Human rights

Our respect for human rights is implicit in our employment practices; the rights of every employee are respected and every employee is treated with dignity and consideration. Our employment practices are designed to attract, retain, motivate and train people and to respect their rights. We do not use child labour, nor do we use forced labour. We make regular supplier visits to ensure our supply chain maintains the same standards of integrity and is free from modern slavery. We recognise freedom of association by permitting our employees to establish and join organisations of their own choosing on their own initiative, and we recognise collective bargaining where required by local laws.