Strategic Comms Awards

Best annual report – FTSE 250 organisation

Best annual report - FTSE 250 organisation
Agency: Emperor

Howdens is the UK’s leading trade kitchen supplier, offering thousands of kitchen options, joinery and hardware products. It is a leading component of the FTSE 250, with a market capitalisation approaching FTSE 100 levels, and was built on the principle that a business should be worthy of all stakeholders. In other words, if its customers do well then its business will do well.

For its 2020 report, Howdens wanted to develop its corporate narrative to better explain what it stands for by expanding upon its purpose and sustainability content, illustrating how these drive its business model and strategy.

Also, with the UK Corporate Governance Code applicable for the first time, Howdens wanted to use the new framework to highlight its strong governance and how Covid-19 had changed board processes, stakeholder engagement and decision making.

The Howdens’ annual report has enjoyed a distinctive illustrative style, but the company was keen to make it even more engaging for readers. From displaying key figures in illustrative wall cupboards and sink units, the report segues into an ‘at a glance’ section which describes Howdens’ value chain from sourcing to distribution to supporting the builder.

Its new ‘our purpose-driven approach’ spread brings to life its purpose – to help our trade customers achieve exceptional results for their customers and to profit from doing so – and demonstrates how Howdens applies this to every aspect of its operations and explaining the links between purpose and value creation. An innovative key performance indicator spread describes each KPI, explains why it is measured and uses colour coding to demonstrate how it is linked to strategy (purple), risks (risks) and remuneration (green).

An extended sustainability section also includes the result of a major ESG review in which Howdens engaged with stakeholders to test its own assessment of its material ESG areas, before developing a new vision aligned with the UN SDGs and backed up with commitments and targets for the future.

The annual report is colourful, easy to navigate and jargon-free. It powerfully communicates serious messages without recourse to static and boiler-plate statements, but in an engaging manner designed to connect with all stakeholders.