The significant accounting policies adopted in this Annual Report and Accounts for the year ended 31 December 2014 are set out below.

Basis of preparation

The Accounts have been prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS") as adopted by the European Union ("EU"), and therefore the Group Accounts comply with Article 4 of the EU IAS Regulation.

The Accounts have been prepared under the historical cost convention except for derivative financial instruments which are stated at their fair value.

The Accounts have been prepared on a going concern basis as set out under Treasury Risk Management.

The following standards became effective or were amended in the current period:

  • IAS 27 (amended) "Separate Financial Statements";
  • IAS 32 (amended) "Offsetting Financial Assets and Liabilities";
  • IAS 36 (amended) "Impairment of Assets";
  • IAS 39 (amended) "Financial Instruments: Recognition and Measurement";
  • IFRS 10 (amended) "Consolidated Financial Statements";
  • IFRS 12 (amended) "Disclosure of Interests in Other Entities"; and
  • IFRIC Interpretation 21 "Levies".

Adoption of the above standards has not had a material impact on the Accounts of the Group.

At the date of authorisation of these Accounts, the following significant standards and interpretations, which have not been applied in these Accounts, were in issue but not yet effective (and in some cases have not yet been adopted by the EU):

  • IFRS 9 "Financial Instruments" – effective for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2015;
  • IAS 16 and IAS 38 "Clarification of Acceptable Methods of Depreciation and Amortisation" – effective for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2016;
  • IAS 27 (amendments) "Equity Method in Separate Financial Statements" – effective for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2016;
  • IFRS 11 (amended) "Joint Arrangements" – effective for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2016; and
  • IFRS 15 "Revenue from Contracts with Customers" – effective for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2017.

The Directors do not expect that the adoption of the standards and interpretations listed above will have a material impact on the Accounts of the Group in future periods, except that IFRS 9 will impact upon both the measurement and disclosure of Financial Instruments, and IFRS 15 will impact upon disclosures given in relation to revenue and trade receivables.

Beyond the information above, it is not practicable to provide a reasonable estimate of the effect of these standards until a detailed review has been completed.

Basis of consolidation

The Consolidated Accounts incorporate the Accounts of the Company and each of its subsidiary undertakings after eliminating all significant intercompany transactions and balances. The results of subsidiary undertakings acquired or sold are consolidated for the periods from or to the date on which control passed.

Non-controlling interests in the net assets of consolidated subsidiaries are identified separately therein. Non-controlling interests consist of the amount of those interests at the date of the original business combination and the non-controlling interests' share of changes in equity since the date of the combination. Losses attributable to the non-controlling interest in excess of their interest in the subsidiary's equity are allocated against the interest of SIG except to the extent that the non-controlling interest has a binding obligation and is able to make an additional investment to cover the losses.

Changes in the Group's interests in subsidiaries that do not result in a loss of control are accounted for as equity transactions. The carrying amount of the Group's interests and the non-controlling interests are adjusted to reflect the changes in their relative interests in the subsidiaries. Any difference between the amount by which the non-controlling interests are adjusted and the fair value of the consideration paid or received is recognised directly in equity and attributed to the shareholders of the Company.

Profit and loss on disposal is calculated as the difference between the aggregate of the fair value of the consideration received and the previous carrying amount of the net assets (including goodwill and intangible assets) of the businesses.

All results are from continuing operations under IFRS as the businesses disposed of in 2014 and 2013 did not meet the disclosure criteria of IFRS 5 "Discontinued Operations" as they did not represent a separate major line of business or geographical area of operation. In order to give an indication of the underlying earnings of the Group the results of these businesses have been included in the column of the Consolidated Income Statement entitled "Other items".

Consolidated Income Statement disclosure

In order to give an indication of the underlying earnings of the Group, certain items are presented in the column of the Consolidated Income Statement entitled "Other items". These include:

  • amortisation of acquired intangibles;
  • restructuring costs;
  • other one-off items;
  • profits and losses arising on the sale of businesses and associated impairment charges;
  • trading profits and losses associated with disposed businesses;
  • goodwill impairment charges;
  • unwinding of provision discounting;
  • fair value gains and losses on derivative financial instruments;
  • one-off recognition of deferred tax assets;
  • the taxation effect of "Other items"; and
  • the effect of the change in taxation rates.

The prior year comparatives have been re-analysed to present the results of the businesses divested in 2014 within "Other items".

Goodwill and business combinations

All business combinations are accounted for by applying the purchase method. Goodwill arising on consolidation represents the excess of the cost of the acquisition over the Group's interest in the fair value of identifiable assets (including intangible assets) and liabilities of the business acquired.

Goodwill is stated at cost less any accumulated impairment losses. Goodwill is not amortised but is tested annually for impairment, or more frequently when there is an indication that goodwill may be impaired. For the purposes of impairment testing, goodwill is allocated to each of the Group's cash-generating units ("CGUs") expected to benefit from the synergies of the combination. If the recoverable amount of the CGU is less than the carrying amount of the unit, the impairment loss is allocated first to reduce the carrying amount of any goodwill allocated to the unit and then to the other assets of the unit pro-rata on the basis of the carrying amount of each asset in the unit. An impairment loss recognised for goodwill is not reversed in a subsequent period.

On disposal of a subsidiary, the attributable amount of remaining goodwill relating to the entity disposed of is included in the determination of any profit or loss on disposal.

Goodwill recorded in foreign currencies is retranslated at each period end. Any movements in the carrying value of goodwill as a result of foreign exchange rate movements are recognised in the Consolidated Statement of Comprehensive Income.

Any excess of the fair value of net assets over consideration arising on an acquisition is recognised immediately in the Consolidated Income Statement.

Intangible assets

The Group recognises intangible assets at cost less accumulated amortisation and impairment losses. The Group recognises two types of intangible asset: acquired and purchased. Acquired intangible assets arise as a result of applying IFRS 3 "Business Combinations" which requires the separate recognition of intangible assets from goodwill on all business combinations. Purchased intangible assets relate primarily to software that is separable from any associated hardware.

Intangible assets are amortised on a straight line basis over their useful economic lives as follows:

Amortisation periodCurrent estimate of useful life
Customer relationshipsLife of the relationship7.4 years
Non-compete contractsLife of the contract3.0 years
Computer softwareUseful life of the software7.0 - 10.0 years

Assets in the course of construction are carried at cost, with amortisation commencing once the assets are ready for their intended use.

Revenue recognition

Revenue is measured at the fair value of the consideration received or receivable and represents amounts receivable for goods and services provided in the normal course of business, net of discounts and customer rebates, VAT and other sales-related taxes. The Group principally earns revenue from the distribution of construction products and is able to recognise revenue on receipt of the goods by the customer. Customer rebates are accounted for as a separate component of the sales transaction in which they are granted. A portion of the fair value of the consideration received is allocated to customer rebates and recognised in the period as earned.

Borrowing costs

Borrowing costs directly attributable to the acquisition, construction or production of qualifying assets, which are assets that necessarily take a substantial period of time to get ready for their intended use or sale, are added to the cost of those assets, until such a time as the assets are substantially ready for their intended use or sale. All other borrowing costs are recognised in the Consolidated Income Statement in the period in which they are incurred.

Pension costs

SIG operates five defined benefit pension schemes. The Group's net obligation in respect of these defined benefit pension schemes is calculated separately for each plan by estimating the amount of future benefit that employees have earned in return for their service in both current and prior periods. That benefit is discounted using an appropriate discount rate to determine its present value and the fair value of any plan assets is deducted.

Where the benefits of the plan are improved, the portion of the increased benefit relating to past service by employees is recognised as an expense in the Consolidated Income Statement, on a straight line basis, over the average period until the benefits vest. To the extent that the benefits vest immediately, the expense is recognised immediately.

The full service cost of the pension schemes is charged to operating profit. Net finance costs on defined benefit pension schemes are recognised in the Consolidated Income Statement.

Any actuarial gain or loss arising is charged through the Consolidated Statement of Comprehensive Income and is made up of the difference between the expected returns on assets and those actually achieved, the difference between the actuarial assumptions for demographics, and any changes in the financial assumptions used in the valuations.

The pension scheme deficit is recognised in full and presented on the face of the Consolidated Balance Sheet. The associated deferred tax asset is recognised within non-current assets in the Consolidated Balance Sheet.

For defined contribution schemes the amount charged to the Consolidated Income Statement in respect of pension costs and other post-retirement benefits is the contributions payable in the year. Differences between contributions payable in the year and contributions actually paid are included within either accruals or prepayments in the Consolidated Balance Sheet.

Share-based payment transactions

The Group issues both equity-settled and cash-settled share-based payments ("share options"). Share options are measured at fair value at the date of grant based on the Group's estimate of the number of shares that will eventually vest. The fair value determined is then expensed in the Consolidated Income Statement on a straight line basis over the vesting period, with a corresponding increase in equity (equity-settled share options) or in liabilities (cash-settled share options). The fair value of the options is measured using the Black-Scholes option pricing model.

The amount recognised as an expense is adjusted to reflect the actual number of share options that vest except where forfeiture is only due to share prices not achieving the threshold for vesting.

For equity-settled share-based payments, at each balance sheet date the Group revises its estimate of the number of share options expected to vest as a result of the effect of non-market-based vesting conditions. The impact of the revision of the original estimates, if any, is recognised in the Consolidated Income Statement such that the cumulative expense reflects the revised estimate, with a corresponding adjustment to equity reserves.

For cash-settled share-based payments, a liability is recognised for the goods or services acquired, measured initially at the fair value of the liability. At each balance sheet date until the liability is settled, and at the date of settlement, the fair value of the liability is remeasured, with any changes in fair value recognised in the Consolidated Income Statement, with a corresponding adjustment to liabilities.

Save As You Earn share options granted to employees are treated as cancelled when employees cease to contribute to the scheme. This results in accelerated recognition of the expense that would have arisen over the remainder of the original vesting period.

Cash and cash equivalents

Cash and cash equivalents comprise cash balances and call deposits with an original maturity of three months or less.

Bank overdrafts that are repayable on demand and form an integral part of the Group's cash management are included as a component of cash and cash equivalents for the purposes of the Consolidated Cash Flow Statement.

Foreign currency

Transactions denominated in foreign currencies are recorded in the local currency and converted at actual exchange rates at the date of the transaction. Any gain or loss arising from a change in exchange rates subsequent to the date of the transaction is included as an exchange gain or loss in the Consolidated Income Statement.

At each balance sheet date, monetary assets and liabilities denominated in foreign currencies are reported at the rates of exchange prevailing at that date.

For the purpose of consolidation, income statements of overseas subsidiary undertakings are translated at the average rate for the year and their balance sheets at the rates prevailing at the balance sheet date.

Exchange differences arising on translation of the opening net assets and results of overseas operations, and on foreign currency borrowings, to the extent that they hedge the Group's investment in such operations, are reported in the Consolidated Statement of Comprehensive Income.

Financial assets

Financial assets are classified as either financial assets at fair value through profit or loss or loans and receivables. The classification depends on the nature and purpose of the financial asset and is determined at the time of initial recognition.

Financial assets at fair value through profit or loss are initially measured and subsequently stated at fair value, with any resultant gain or loss recognised in the Consolidated Income Statement. When determining the fair value of financial assets, the expected future cash flows are discounted using an appropriate discount rate.

Loans and receivables are measured initially at fair value and then subsequently at amortised cost using the effective interest rate method. The effective interest rate is the rate that exactly discounts estimated future cash receipts through the expected life of the debt instrument, or, where appropriate, a shorter period, to the net carrying amount on initial recognition.

Financial assets (including trade receivables) are assessed for indicators of impairment on an ongoing basis. Financial assets are impaired where there is objective evidence that as a result of one or more events that occurred after the initial recognition of the financial asset the estimated future cash flows have been negatively impacted. When there is objective evidence of impairment, appropriate allowances are made for estimated irrecoverable amounts based upon expected future cash flows discounted by an appropriate interest rate where applicable. The carrying amount of the financial asset is reduced by the impairment loss directly for all financial assets with the exception of trade receivables, where the carrying amount is reduced through the use of an allowance account. When a trade receivable is considered to be uncollectible it is written off against the allowance account. Subsequent recoveries of amounts previously written off are credited to the Consolidated Income Statement.

If, in a subsequent period, the amount of the impairment loss decreases and the decrease can be related objectively to an event occurring after the impairment was recognised, the previously recognised impairment loss is reversed through the Consolidated Income Statement to the extent that the carrying amount of the asset at the date the impairment is reversed does not exceed what the amortised cost would have been had the impairment not been recognised.

Financial liabilities

Financial liabilities are classified as either financial liabilities at fair value through profit or loss or other financial liabilities.

Financial liabilities at fair value through profit or loss are initially measured and subsequently stated at fair value, with any resultant gain or loss recognised in the Consolidated Income Statement. The net gain or loss recognised in the Consolidated Income Statement incorporates any interest paid on the financial liability.

Other financial liabilities (including trade and other payables) are initially measured at fair value, net of transaction costs, and are subsequently measured at amortised cost using the effective interest rate method.

When determining the fair value of financial liabilities, the expected future cash flows are discounted using an appropriate interest rate.

Debt and equity instruments are classified as either financial liabilities or as equity in accordance with the substance of the contractual arrangement.

Derivative financial instruments

The Group uses derivative financial instruments including interest rate swaps, forward foreign exchange contracts and cross currency swaps to hedge its exposure to foreign currency exchange and interest rate risks arising from operational and financing activities. In accordance with its Treasury Policy, the Group does not hold or issue derivative financial instruments for trading purposes. However derivative financial instruments, or any that do not qualify for hedge accounting, are accounted for as trading instruments. Derivatives are classified as non-current assets or non-current liabilities if the remaining maturity of the derivatives is more than twelve months and they are not expected to be otherwise realised or settled within twelve months. Other derivatives are presented as current assets or current liabilities.

Derivative financial instruments are recognised immediately at cost. Subsequent to their initial recognition, derivative financial instruments are then stated at their fair value. The fair value of derivative financial instruments is derived from "mark-to-market" valuations obtained from the Group's relationship banks.

Unless hedge accounting is achieved, the gain or loss on remeasurement to fair value is recognised immediately and is included as part of finance income or finance costs, together with other fair value gains and losses on derivative financial instruments, within the column of the Consolidated Income Statement entitled "Other items".

Hedge accounting is discontinued when the hedging instrument expires or is sold, terminated, exercised, no longer qualifies for hedge accounting, or when the Group revokes the hedging relationship. At that time, any cumulative gain or loss on the hedging instrument recognised in equity is retained in equity until the forecast transaction occurs. If a hedged transaction is no longer expected to occur, the net cumulative gain or loss recognised in equity is transferred to the Consolidated Income Statement in the period.

At the inception of the hedge relationship the Group documents the relationship between the hedging instrument and the hedged item, along with its risk management objectives and its strategy for undertaking various hedging transactions. Furthermore, at the inception of the hedge and on an ongoing basis, the Group documents whether the hedging instruments that are used in hedging transactions are highly effective in offsetting changes in fair values or cash flows of the hedged items.

Cash flow hedges

When a derivative financial instrument is designated as a hedge of the variability in cash flows associated with a recognised asset or liability, or a highly probable forecast transaction, the effective part of any gain or loss on the derivative financial instrument is recognised directly in the Consolidated Statement of Comprehensive Income (i.e. equity). When the forecast transaction subsequently results in the recognition of a non-financial asset or non-financial liability, the associated cumulative gain or loss is removed from equity and included in the initial cost or other carrying amount of the non-financial asset or liability. If a hedge of a forecast transaction subsequently results in the recognition of a financial asset or financial liability, the associated gains or losses that were previously recognised in the Consolidated Statement of Comprehensive Income are reclassified into the Consolidated Income Statement in the same period or periods during which the asset acquired or liability assumed affects the Consolidated Income Statement.

For cash flow hedges, the ineffective portion of any gain or loss is recognised immediately as fair value gains or losses on derivative financial instruments and is included as part of finance income or finance costs within the column of the Consolidated Income Statement entitled "Other items".

Hedge of net investment in foreign operations

The portion of any gain or loss on an instrument used to hedge a net investment in a foreign operation that is determined to be an effective hedge is recognised in the Consolidated Statement of Comprehensive Income. The ineffective portion of any gain or loss is recognised immediately as fair value gains or losses on derivative financial instruments and is included as part of finance income or finance costs within the column of the Consolidated Income Statement entitled "Other items". Gains and losses deferred in the hedging and translation reserve are recognised immediately in the Consolidated Income Statement when the foreign operation is disposed of.

Fair value hedges

For an effective hedge of an exposure to changes in fair value, the hedged item is adjusted for changes in fair value attributable to the risk being hedged with the corresponding entry in the Consolidated Income Statement within "Other items". Fair value gains or losses from remeasuring the derivative financial instruments are recognised immediately in the Consolidated Income Statement within "Other items".

Taxation

Income tax on the profit or loss for the periods presented comprises both current and deferred tax. Income tax is recognised in the Consolidated Income Statement except to the extent that it relates to items recognised directly in equity, in which case it is recognised in the Consolidated Statement of Comprehensive Income.

Current tax is the expected tax payable on the taxable income for the year, using tax rates that have been enacted by the balance sheet date, and any adjustment to tax payable in respect of previous years.

The prior year net current tax liability of £5.3m has been restated to reflect the gross current tax assets of £4.3m and liabilities of £9.6m.

Deferred tax is provided using the balance sheet liability method, providing for all temporary differences between the carrying amounts of assets and liabilities for financial reporting purposes and the amounts used for taxation purposes.

In accordance with IAS 12, the following temporary differences are not provided for:

  • goodwill not deductible for taxation purposes;
  • the initial recognition of assets or liabilities that affect neither accounting nor taxable profit; and
  • differences relating to investments in subsidiaries to the extent that they will probably not reverse in the foreseeable future.

The amount of deferred tax provided is based on the expected manner of realisation or settlement of the carrying amount of assets and liabilities, using tax rates enacted or substantively enacted by the balance sheet date.

A deferred tax asset is recognised only to the extent that it is probable that future taxable profits will be available against which the asset can be utilised. Deferred tax assets are reduced to the extent that it is no longer probable that the related tax benefit will be realised.

Property, plant and equipment

Property, plant and equipment is shown at original cost to the Group less accumulated depreciation and any provision for impairment.

Depreciation is provided at rates calculated to write off the cost less the estimated residual value of property, plant and equipment on a straight line basis over their estimated useful lives as follows:

Current estimate of useful life
Freehold buildings50 years
Leasehold buildingsPeriod of lease
Plant and machinery (including motor vehicles)3-8 years

Freehold land is not depreciated.

Residual values, which are based on market rates, are reassessed annually.

Assets in the course of construction are carried at cost, with depreciation charged on the same basis as all other assets once those assets are ready for their intended use.

Inventories

Inventories are stated at the lower of cost (including an appropriate proportion of attributable overheads, supplier rebates and discounts) and net realisable value. The cost formula used in measuring inventories is either a weighted average cost, or a First In First Out basis, depending on the most appropriate method for each particular business.

Net realisable value is based on estimated normal selling price, less further costs expected to be incurred up to completion and disposal. Provision is made for obsolete, slow moving or defective items where appropriate.

Leases and hire purchase agreements

The cost of assets held under finance leases and hire purchase agreements is capitalised with an equivalent liability categorised as appropriate under current liabilities or non-current liabilities. The asset is depreciated over the shorter of the lease term or its useful life.

Rentals under finance leases and hire purchase agreements are apportioned between finance costs and reduction of the lease obligation so as to achieve a constant rate of interest on the remaining balance of the liability. The finance costs are charged in arriving at profit before tax.

Rentals under operating leases are charged to the Consolidated Income Statement on a straight line basis over the lease term.

In the event that lease incentives are received to enter into operating leases, such incentives are recognised as a liability. The aggregate benefit of incentives is recognised as a reduction of rental expense on a straight line basis over the lease term.

Property provisions

The Group makes provisions in respect of onerous leasehold property contracts and leasehold dilapidation commitments where it is probable that a transfer of economic benefit will be required to settle a present obligation. The amount recognised as a provision is the best estimate of the consideration required to settle the present obligation at the balance sheet date, taking into account the risks and uncertainties surrounding the obligation.

Dividends

Dividends proposed by the Board of Directors that have not been paid by the end of the year are not recognised in the Accounts until they have been approved by the Shareholders at the Annual General Meeting.

SUPPLIER REBATES

Supplier rebate income is significant to the Group's result, with a substantial proportion of purchases covered by rebate agreements. Some supplier rebate agreements are non-coterminous to the period end, and firm confirmation of amounts due may not be received until six months after the balance sheet date.

Where the Group relies on estimates, these are made with reference to contracts or other agreements, management forecasts and detailed operational workbooks. Supplier rebate income estimates are regularly reviewed by senior management.