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Stakeholder engagement

We believe that to secure our long-term success, we must take account of what is important to our key stakeholders. This is best achieved through proactive and effective engagement, which helps us to identify and focus on the issues that matter most and factor stakeholders’ views into our decision-making. Active stakeholder engagement is a key part of how we manage risks and unlock opportunities.

While the majority of engagement with stakeholders takes place within the business divisions and is led by divisional management, the Board engages directly with certain stakeholders. The Directors are also kept regularly appraised of all stakeholders’ views through divisional reports to the Board, so that Directors are able to have regard to such views in their decision-making, as illustrated by reference to various stakeholders’ interests in our Section 172(1) statement on page 38 of our 2021 annual report.

Understanding and balancing the respective needs and expectations of our stakeholders over the past year has been more important than ever and we remain committed to doing so as we emerge from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and look to our recovery and future growth.

Customers

Ensuring our customers are at the heart of our decision-making is crucial to our strategy. Understanding their changing needs, preferences and behaviours helps us to ensure that our offering remains safe, fair, current and appealing. 

Key areas of interest

  • Player protection
  • Customer experience
  • Relevance of offering
  • Health, safety & well-being
  • Impact of the pandemic

How we engage

We host, serve and engage with our customers each and every day by means of digital interfaces and conversations in our venues and remotely. This includes discussing their overall experience, safer gambling, affordability and welfare. We also regularly engage with our customers through quantitative and qualitative research to seek their views, opinions and insights into how we can improve our products, services and user journeys.

2020/21 highlights

  • Maintained regular contact throughout lockdown on a local basis, focusing on well-being.
  • Sought customer views on returning to venues ahead of reopening, which influenced our reopening plans and approach to protective measures.
  • Adopted a refreshed approach to training upon reopening, to take account of potential changes in circumstances and needs as a result of the pandemic.
  • Launched a new customer experience programme on reopening our venues, to give customers the opportunity to feedback on their experience and adjusted plans nationally and locally according to customer sentiment.
  • Utilised customer insights to drive Mecca brand development (the refreshed brand being launched in July 2021) and areas of product development, such as the introduction of a new bingo schedule, entertainment, improved calling and new food and drink offers.
  • Conducted player research and sought feedback on products and user journeys, utilising the output in product development and to inform our approach to user journey refinement.

Our people

Our people are the heart and soul of the business and central to its success. We depend on their passion and commitment to implement our strategy and ensure our customers are served in the best possible way. 

Key areas of interest

  • Opportunities for progression
  • Inclusion and diversity
  • Fair pay and reward
  • Opportunities to share ideas and make a difference
  • Health, safety & well-being
  • Impact of the pandemic

How we engage

We seek an open dialogue culture and host forums throughout the year to enable the exchange of opinion between colleagues and the sharing of views with senior management and the Board. Other engagement methods include, but are not limited to, monthly Group and business unit Town Halls, frequent newsletters and corporate communications to share news and developments, employee surveys (postponed during 2020/21 due to the majority of colleagues being furloughed), regular performance and development reviews and venue visits by Board members and senior management (although limited this year due to closures).

We also continue to offer a confidential whistleblowing hotline to all colleagues.

2020/21 highlights

  • With so many colleagues working remotely or furloughed, staying connected and ensuring ongoing engagement throughout the business was a priority and colleagues were keen to ensure they remained updated on latest news, were able to engage and receive support. The ways in which we did so include:
    • tailored communications ensuring that colleagues on furlough and working from home were kept up to date on business performance, Government guidance, our community efforts and preparation for reopening our venues
    • social media forums for Grosvenor and Mecca colleagues to express views and share news
    • additional well-being support during periods of furlough
    • 16 Town Hall meetings with Q&A sessions, 20 virtual employee engagement events and increased use of webinars and communication through virtual meetings
    • appointed and trained mental health first aiders
    • return to work plans developed along side a communication programme. Return to work activities included re-engagement and training sessions (including safer gambling and health & safety), as well as welfare conversations at individual and team levels.
  • Engaged with colleagues by means of questionnaires and workshops to assess further ways in which we can develop and enhance our safer gambling culture, with the output forming the basis for a series of actions to be implemented during the forthcoming year.
  • Visits to venues by Board members and senior management following reopening with feedback incorporated in the Board’s strategy sessions.
  • STARS values awards continued to recognise individuals and/or teams for demonstrating Rank’s values in their work, nominated by their peers.
  • Open and constructive dialogue with trade unions.

Communities

Community links are as important to Rank and its people as they are to our customers. Our businesses are more likely to succeed when they are part of healthy and supportive communities and we are committed to making a positive contribution to them. 

Key areas of interest

  • Charitable initiatives
  • Positive community impact
  • Employment
  • Impact of the pandemic

How we engage

Our venues are community hubs in which people spend leisure time and engage and interact with other customers and with our colleagues. The strength of our business is in part due to the long-term trust and relationships which exist between our colleagues and customers, who very often will have known each other for many years. 

We engage with the local community through volunteering, charity work and providing employment and work experience opportunities. 

We are particularly proud of our seven-year relationship with Carers Trust.

2020/21 highlights

  • Across the Group, we have supported communities in response to the pandemic, including:
    • provided meals for emergency service and NHS workers and vulnerable people in their local communities
    • provided free parking for NHS workers
    • made support calls to Mecca customers including those self isolating
    • made food donations to local centres and good causes
    • supported the ‘Everyone Deserves a Christmas’ campaign
    • and many other activities to ensure that we were contributing to the national effort within our local communities.
  • During the year we raised £267,263 for Carers Trust, which works to improve support, services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of caring for a family member or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or addiction problems. During the year we raised a further £185,000 for good causes.

Regulators and legislators 

Regulators and legislators play a key role in shaping the gambling landscape and an ongoing open dialogue is essential to ensure we better understand the expectations underpinning regulation and that regulation is founded in an understanding of the customer. Regulators also monitor the high standards by which we operate.

Key areas of interest

  • Openness and transparency
  • Compliance with laws and regulations
  • Safer gambling and affordability
  • Policy and the direction of future gambling regulation
  • Impact of the pandemic

How we engage

Establishing and developing relationships with elected parliamentarians, government officials, industry peers and key stakeholders (such as campaign groups and media) remains a key focus, particularly in the UK this year with the wide-ranging review of gambling legislation that is underway. We conduct such engagement ourselves and also through industry bodies, such as the Betting and Gaming Council (‘BGC’), the Casino Group (within the BGC) and the Bingo Association. We strive to establish strong working relationships with the aim that our contributions are valued in terms of delivering customer-oriented laws and regulations. 

From a compliance perspective, we participate in regular meetings and communications with the UK Gambling Commisson ('Commisson'), as well as other regulatory bodies and authorities by whom we  are licensed.

2020/21 highlights

  • Frequent contact with DCMS, HM Treasury, and key Government departments and officials in relation to closures, reopening and ongoing restrictions. This also required parallel effort in the devolved administrations of Wales and Scotland.
  • Wrote to all constituency MPs inviting visits to our COVID-19 secure venues and hosted 14 MPs in person in their local clubs to discuss matters of concern in relation to prolonged closure and restrictions on reopening, including job protection and job security and health and safety.
  • Chief Executive appearances in front of a number of All-Party Parliamentary Groups, addressing representatives in Parliament with a view to articulating our position in terms of the Government’s legislative review.
  • Regular contact with officials in DCMS, including the current and former Gambling Minister, as we seek to articulate the case
  • for legislative change that supports Rank’s strategy.
  • Contributed to the Government’s Call for Evidence for the review of gambling legislation, on a standalone basis and also as part of industry body submissions.
  • Undertaken a programme of engagement with MPs and media during the year ahead of an anticipated Government White Paper towards the end of 2021.
  • Submitted Annual Assurance Statement to the Commission.
  • Worked on a transparent and collaborative basis with the Commission and our other regulators.

Shareholders and investors 

We adopt an open and transparent approach with our shareholders and analysts to communicate our performance and use their feedback to inform our strategy and decision-making.

Key areas of interest

  • Strategy, performance and outlook
  • Leadership capability
  • Executive remuneration
  • Corporate governance
  • ESG performance
  • Impact of the pandemic

How we engage

We adopt a proactive approach to investor relations, conducting a comprehensive programme of regular contact and consultation throughout the year. Our investor relations programme includes regular updates, meetings, roadshows and our Annual General Meeting (held as a closed meeting in 2020/21 in line with Government restrictions and guidance). The other key way in which we communicate with all shareholders is via our corporate website, www.rank.com.

2020/21 highlights

  • 49 meetings held with shareholders during the year, in addition to quarterly meetings held with the majority shareholder.
  • Consultation with major shareholders on remuneration.
  • Received votes from 94.86% of shareholders for the 2020 AGM.
  • Increased communications during the COVID-19 lockdown in order to ensure full transparency around the impact of lockdown and the closure of our venues on the Company’s financial position and its proposed response, including additional financing and raising equity.

Suppliers

We have relationships with over 3,000 suppliers, ranging from small businesses to large multinational companies. We aim to operate to the highest professional standards, treating our suppliers as key business partners and operating in a fair and reasonable manner, encouraging supply chain transparency and promoting fair working conditions.

Key areas of interest

  • Robustness of our business
  • Long-term partnerships
  • Fair engagement and payment terms
  • Collaborative approach
  • Impact of the pandemic

How we engage

We have a dedicated procurement function which engages with our suppliers with the aim of optimising the way that we work with them. We build relationships regionally and locally to better understand the markets from where we source products and services. These relationships and good communication were particularly important during the pandemic, both for the period for which our venues were closed, but also in relation to the collaboration required to implement closures and reopenings throughout the year.

2020/21 highlights

  • During periods of closure, worked with our suppliers to ensure a pragmatic approach to the challenges being faced by us and them, including delaying orders, extending payment terms/obtaining payment deferrals and holidays and adjusting contracts to reflect changed circumstances.
  • Worked with suppliers to effect a smooth closure and reopening process as a result of changes in Government restrictions.
  • Collaborated with our suppliers in support of the national effort including the provision of food and delivery services for meals for emergency service workers.
  • Considered impact on Rank and our suppliers as a result of Brexit, although this was limited due to venues closures.
  • Provided training to suppliers and contractors as appropriate when visiting our venues
  • The Group’s Modern Slavery Statement, which is submitted to the Board for approval each year, can be found on www.rank.com.