LEADERSHIP

The Board

At 31 December 2014, the Board was made up of seven members comprising the Chairman, two Executive Directors and four Non-Executive Directors. The Directors who held office during the year were:

Mr. L. Van de WalleNon-Executive Chairman
Mr. S. R. MitchellChief Executive
Mr. D. G. RobertsonGroup Finance Director
Ms. J. E. AshdownIndependent Non-Executive Director
Mr. M. EwellIndependent Non-Executive Director
Mr. C. V. GeogheganSenior Independent Non-Executive Director
Mr. J. C. NichollsIndependent Non-Executive Director

Biographical details of the Directors holding office at the date of this report appear in the Board of Directors. Details of Committee memberships are set out in the Group Board.

At 31 December 2014 SIG had one female Board member, equating to 14% female representation of its Directors. Ms. A. Abt has agreed to join the Board as an Independent Non-Executive Director with effect from 12 March 2015. Following Ms. Abt's appointment, female representation on the Board will have risen to 25%.

The Non-Executive Directors are considered by the Board to be independent of management and free of any relationship which could materially interfere with the exercise of their independent judgment. The Board has satisfied itself that there is no compromise to the independence of those Directors who have other appointments in outside entities. The Board considers that each of the Non-Executive Directors brings their own senior level of experience and expertise and that the balance between Non-Executive and Executive representation encourages healthy independent challenge to the Executive Directors and senior management.

The Non-Executive Directors have been appointed for their specific areas of expertise and knowledge. Their wide-ranging experience and backgrounds ensure that they can debate matters constructively in relation to both the development of strategy and the performance of SIG against objectives set out by the Board. Biographical details of each of the Directors, which illustrate their range of experience, are set out in the Board of Directors.

The Company's policy relating to the terms of appointment and remuneration of both the Executive and Non-Executive Directors is detailed in the Directors' Remuneration Report.

The roles of the Chairman and the Chief Executive are separate and clearly defined. The division of responsibilities is set out in writing, reviewed by the Company Secretary and agreed by the Board on a regular basis. The Board approves any necessary changes to reflect changes in legislation, policy and practices. The Chairman leads the Board and sets its agenda, ensuring that all Directors, particularly the Non-Executive Directors, are able to make an effective contribution. He also ensures that there is a constructive relationship between the Executive and Non-Executive Directors. The Chief Executive has responsibility for all operational matters which include the implementation of the Group Strategy and policies approved by the Board.

The roles for the Chairman, Chief Executive and the Senior Independent Director are agreed and set out in writing; a summary of their roles and division of responsibility is set out below:

Chairman

  • Responsible for overall leadership and governance of the Board (including induction, development and performance evaluation);
  • Ensures that the Directors have an understanding of the views of the Company's major Shareholders; and
  • Ensures a healthy culture of challenge and debate at Board and Committee meetings.

The Chairman at the time of his appointment met and continues to meet the independence criteria set out in the Code.

Chief Executive

  • Responsible for the effective leadership of the Group;
  • Strong and focused management and development of the Group's operations;
  • Implementation of the Group's objectives and strategy agreed by the Board;
  • Maintains good relationships and communications with investors;
  • Works closely with the Group Finance Director to ensure appropriate financial controls are in place; and
  • Develops and implements policies integral to improving the business, including in relation to Health & Safety and Corporate Responsibility.

Senior Independent Director

  • Available for approach by or representations from investors and Shareholders, where communications through the Chairman or Executive Directors may not seem appropriate;
  • A sounding board for the Chairman and an intermediary for the other Directors when necessary; and
  • Available to chair the Board in the absence of the Chairman.

The Senior Independent Director is Mr. C. V. Geoghegan.

There is no maximum number of Directors but there shall at no time be less than two. Directors may be appointed by the Company by ordinary resolution or by the Board. A Director appointed by the Board shall hold office only until the next AGM and shall then be eligible for reappointment by the Shareholders. The Board may, from time to time, appoint one or more Directors as Managing Director or to fulfil any other executive function within the Company for such term, remuneration and other conditions of appointment as it may determine, and it may revoke such appointment (subject to the provisions of the Companies Act).

Election and re-election of Directors

Under the Articles of Association, all Directors are subject to election at the AGM immediately following their appointment and to re-election every three years. However, in accordance with the Code, all Directors will seek election or re-election at the Company's AGM each year. To enable Shareholders to make an informed decision, the 2015 Notice of AGM includes biographical details and a statement as to why the Company believes that the Directors should be re-elected.

It is the view of the Board that each of the Non-Executive Directors standing for election or re-election brings considerable management experience and an independent perspective to the Board's discussions and is considered to be independent of management and free from any relationship or circumstance that could affect, or appear to affect, the exercise of their independent judgment.

The Chairman intends to confirm at the AGM that the performance of each individual continues to be effective and demonstrates commitment to the role.

The terms of the Directors' service contracts are disclosed in the Directors' Remuneration Report. Full details of Directors' remuneration, interests in the share capital of the Company and of share options held are set out in the Directors' Remuneration Report .

Directors' service contracts and the letters of appointment of the Non-Executive Directors are available for inspection at the Company's registered office and will be available at the AGM which is scheduled to take place on 14 May 2015.

Board procedures and responsibilities

The Board meets regularly during the year, as well as on an adhoc basis as required by time-critical business needs. The Board met formally on eleven occasions during the year and individual attendance at those and the Board Committee meetings is set out in the Attendance at Board and Committee meetings table. All Board members are supplied with information in a form and of a quality appropriate to enable them to discharge their duties. Board and Committee papers are sent out seven days before meetings take place.

The Directors are provided with opportunities for training to ensure that they are kept up-to-date on relevant new legislation and regulation changes, corporate governance developments and changing commercial risks. There is an agreed schedule of matters reserved for the Board for collective decision (which can be viewed on the Company's website, www.sigplc.com). These matters include:

  • determining the strategy and control of the Group;
  • amendments to the structure and capital of the Company and Group;
  • approval of financial reporting;
  • oversight of the Group's internal controls;
  • approval of capital and revenue expenditure of a significant size;
  • Board membership and appointments;
  • acquisitions and disposals above a prescribed limit;
  • corporate governance matters; and
  • approval of Group policies and risk management strategies.

The Board has formally delegated specific responsibilities to Board Committees, including the Nominations, Audit and Remuneration Committees. The Board also appoints Committees to approve specific processes as deemed necessary. For example, during the year, Board Committees were established to approve bank documentation and the preliminary and interim results announcements.

The Terms of Reference for each of the Board Committees are available on request from the Company Secretary or on the SIG website (www.sigplc.com).

To enable the Board to perform its duties effectively, all Directors have full access to all relevant information and to the services of the Company Secretary whose responsibility it is for ensuring that Board procedures are followed. The appointment and removal of the Company Secretary is a matter reserved for the Board. There is an agreed procedure whereby Directors wishing to take independent legal advice in the furtherance of their duties may do so at the Company's expense.

The Company Secretary is responsible for ensuring that Board procedures are followed including the formal minuting of any unresolved concerns that any Director may have in connection with the operation of the Company. During the year there were no such unresolved issues. Further, on resignation, if a Non-Executive Director had any such concerns, the Chairman would invite him/her to provide a written statement for circulation to the Board.

All Board Committees are provided with sufficient resources to undertake their duties. Appropriate training is available to all Directors on appointment and on an ongoing basis as required.

Following the implementation of BoardPad, a secure iPad paperless meeting system in 2012, its successful roll-out has progressively resulted in the replacement of hard copy packs with electronic versions. Paperless meetings are now the norm, not only for the Board but also its Committees and the Group Executive Committee. This supports our online drive across the Group and is consistent with reducing the impact of our operations on the environment.

Directors' conflicts of interests

Each Director has a duty under the Companies Act 2006 ("CA 2006") to avoid any situation where they have, or can have, a direct or indirect interest that conflicts, or possibly may conflict, with the Company's interests. This duty is in addition to the obligation that they owe to the Company to disclose to the Board any transaction or arrangement under consideration by the Company in which they have, or can have, a direct or indirect interest. Directors of public companies may authorise conflicts and potential conflicts, where appropriate, if a company's Articles of Association permit and Shareholders have approved appropriate amendments.

Procedures have been put in place for the disclosure by Directors of any such conflicts and also for the consideration and authorisation of any conflicts by the Board. These procedures allow for the imposition of limits or conditions by the Board when authorising any conflict, if they think this is appropriate. These procedures have been applied during the year and are now included as a regular item for consideration by the Board at its meetings. The Board believes that the procedures established to deal with conflicts of interest are operating effectively.

The Board is aware of the other commitments of its Directors and is satisfied that these do not conflict with their duties as Directors of the Company.

Attendance at Board and Committee meetings

The following table shows the attendance of Directors at meetings of the Board, Audit, Remuneration and Nominations Committees during the year to 31 December 2014:

Board
Meetings eligible
to attend
(11 max)
Audit
Committee
Meetings eligible
to attend
(5 max)
Remuneration
Committee
Meetings eligible
to attend
(7 max)
Nominations
Committee
Meetings eligible
to attend
(3 max)
J. Ashdown
M. Ewell
C. V. Geoghegan
S. R. MitchellN/AN/A
J. C. Nicholls
D. G. RobertsonN/AN/AN/A
L. Van de WalleN/AN/A

Chairman Meeting attended Absent

Of the eleven Board meetings held in 2014, two were held by telephone conference call.

This table only shows those meetings which each Director attended as a member rather than as an invitee. Where "N/A" appears in the table the Director listed is not a member of the Committee. All of the Directors in office at the date of the AGM were in attendance at that meeting. Directors do not participate in meetings when matters relating to them are discussed.

The Chairman also holds meetings with the Non-Executive Directors without the Executive Directors present. The Senior Independent Director also meets with the other Independent Non-Executive Directors without the Chairman present.

The Board arranges to hold at least two Board meetings each year at Group business locations both in the UK and Ireland, and Mainland Europe to help all Board members gain a deeper understanding of the business. This also provides senior managers from across the Group with the opportunity to present to the Board as well as to meet the Directors on more informal occasions. Board members also attend divisional and Group management conferences whenever possible.

Group board

Effectiveness and evaluation

Board effectiveness and performance evaluation

The effectiveness of the Board and its Committees is vital to the success of the Company, and during the year the Board continued its ongoing evaluation process to assess its performance and that of its three principal Committees.

In December 2014, as part of this programme, the Board commissioned Equity Communications Limited, an independent third party with no other connection to the Company, to prepare a tailored Board evaluation process. This was facilitated by way of a questionnaire process with the emphasis, in addition to the evaluation of the performance of the Board and its Committees, being targeted at identifying the future needs of the Board, including Board succession planning and performance, strategy development and delivery, and Board skills and composition. Each Director completed their questionnaire and these were then evaluated by the independent facilitator who then prepared a report for the Chairman.

The Chairman and the facilitator presented the results of the evaluation to the Board, which discussed the results of the evaluation in detail at its January 2015 meeting. The discussions then focused on how the actions and improvements identified through the process should be implemented. The Board was satisfied that the evaluation of its performance was a worthwhile exercise and that the Directors had participated on an open and frank basis.

Whilst concluding that the Board and its Committees continue to improve their effectiveness and are perceived to be working well, the evaluation identified a number of areas for improvement in connection with strategic development, the change programme and succession planning. In respect of strategic development, there is a need to implement faster and monitor more thoroughly the plans to deliver existing short/medium-term strategy and to finalise a longer-term strategy. With regard to the change programme, there is a need to identify further culture and values needed for the future, together with finding ways to accelerate the pace and impact of the changes. In connection with succession planning, there is a need to develop a more detailed plan for Executive and Non-Executive Director succession.

The proposed Board priorities for 2015 will cover:

  • monitoring and supporting culture and change programmes;
  • reviewing and monitoring the supply chain strategic initiative progress;
  • reviewing the strategy for mergers and acquisitions and accelerating implementation;
  • finalising a longer-term strategy; and
  • a stronger focus on IT strategy and plans.

The Board notes that the Code requires FTSE 350 companies to carry out an externally facilitated Board evaluation at least every three years. Having last conducted such an evaluation in December 2014, the Board intends to conduct an internally facilitated effectiveness and evaluation process in 2015.

The Chairman regularly reviews and agrees with each Director their training and development needs. During the year a number of the Directors attended training courses and seminars on subjects and topics, including those that the Chairman had identified as being areas where training would increase the knowledge and effectiveness of the Director. The Board as a whole received training on Corporate Governance developments in relation to the UK Stewardship Code, the revisions to the UK Corporate Governance Code and the new Annual Report reporting requirements. Further training is programmed for 2015.

The Non-Executive Directors, chaired by the Senior Independent Director, meet once a year without the Chairman present to assess his performance, taking into account the views of the Executive Directors.

Risk management and internal control

The Board has ultimate responsibility for the Group's system of internal control and for reviewing its effectiveness. It is the role of management to implement the Board's policies on risk and control through the design and operation of appropriate internal control systems. Such systems are designed to manage, rather than eliminate, the risk of failure to achieve the business objectives and can therefore only provide reasonable and not absolute assurance against material misstatement or loss.

The Audit Committee monitors and reviews the effectiveness of the Group's internal control systems, accounting policies and practices, standards of risk management and risk management procedures and compliance controls.

The key elements of the existing systems of internal control, which accord with the revised Turnbull Guidance (2005), are as follows:

Open culture

The Board considers that the Group operates a risk-aware culture with an open style of communication. This facilitates the early identification of problems and issues, so that appropriate action is taken quickly to minimise any impact on the business.

Ongoing process for risk identification, evaluation and management

This process includes the following:

  • the Group Board maintains an overall corporate risk register, the content of which is determined by regular discussions between senior management, the Group Board and the Audit Committee. This is also formally reviewed twice yearly by the Audit Committee and discussed with the Board. The risk register contains the significant risks faced by the Group and identifies the potential impact and likelihood at both a gross level (before consideration of mitigating controls) and net level (after consideration of mitigating controls). This provides the Board with the opportunity to review the level of risk that the business is prepared to accept. The register also contains the assurance provided over current key mitigating controls. Where further actions have been identified to mitigate risks to a level deemed acceptable, these are agreed with specific timelines for delivery and are monitored closely until fully implemented. This is summarised in the Strategic Report;

Ongoing process for risk identification, evaluation and management

  • the risk management process is cascaded throughout the Group, with operating subsidiary boards responsible for maintaining their own risk registers and assessing their control systems;
  • a defined organisation structure with appropriate delegation of authority;
  • formal authorisation procedures for all investments with clear guidelines on appraisal techniques and success criteria;
  • clear responsibilities on the part of financial management for the maintenance of good financial controls and the production and review of detailed, accurate and timely financial management information;
  • a comprehensive system of financial reporting. An annual budget for each operating company is prepared in detail and approved by the Chief Executive. The Board approves the overall Group's budget and plans. Monthly actual results are reported against budget and prior year and the forecast for the year is revised where necessary. Any significant changes and adverse variances are questioned by the Board and remedial action is taken where appropriate. There is also regular cash and treasury reporting to the Group Finance Director and periodic reporting to the Board on the Group's tax and treasury position;
  • provision to management and the Board of relevant, accurate and timely information including relevant key performance indicators, based on reliable management information systems which are continually being improved and updated;
  • monthly reports to the Board from the Chief Executive and Group Finance Director;
  • regular business unit management board meetings (periodically attended by the Chief Executive or Group Finance Director), Executive Board meetings and the Company Board meetings at which existing, new and evolving operational, financial and other risks are discussed, and appropriate actions to manage these risks are agreed and followed up;
  • discussion of any significant issues or control weaknesses identified and, if considered necessary, their inclusion in reports to the Executive Board and the Company Board;
  • operating units, both trading sites and central functions, complete comprehensive Control Self Assessment ("CSA") questionnaires every six months. These questionnaires require managers to respond to questions about procedures and controls in the unit for which they have responsibility. These are analysed by local and Group management and all potential risks or control failure issues which are raised by the CSA process are classed in terms of escalation levels with any significant Group level issues being reported to the Audit Committee; and
  • a structured and approved programme of internal audit visits with the implementation of recommendations made being monitored as part of a continuous programme of improvement.

Financial reporting

In addition to the general internal controls and risk management processes described above, the Group also has specific internal controls and risk management systems to govern the financial reporting process and preparation of the Annual Report and Accounts. These systems include clear policies and procedures for ensuring that the Group's financial reporting processes and the preparation of its Consolidated Accounts comply with all relevant regulatory reporting requirements. These are comprehensively detailed in the Group Finance Manual, which is used by the businesses in the preparation of their results. Financial control requirements are also set out in the Group Finance Manual.

Annual assessment of the effectiveness of systems of internal control

During 2014 the Board conducted a review of the effectiveness of the Group's system of internal control. This review covered all controls including operational, compliance and risk management procedures, as well as financial controls.

The Board and Audit Committee requested, received and reviewed reports from senior management, its advisers, the outsourced Internal Audit function and our external Auditor in order to assist the Board with their annual assessment of the effectiveness of the Group's systems of internal controls. Through the ongoing processes outlined above, areas for improvement in internal controls are continuously identified and action plans are devised, for example the new ERP system in the UK as discussed under IT infrastructure and cyber security and Implementation of UK ERP system. Progress towards completion of actions is regularly monitored by management and the Board. The Board considers that none of the areas of improvement identified constitute a significant failing or weakness. The Board considers that the information that it receives is sufficient to enable it to review the effectiveness of the Group's internal controls in accordance with the internal control guidance for Directors on the Code issued by the Turnbull Review Group.

Whistleblowing

The Group has in place a Whistleblowing Policy under which employees may, in confidence, raise concerns about possible wrongdoing in financial reporting or other matters. A copy of this policy is available on the Company's website (www.sigplc.com).

The Company also has in place a confidential hotline which is available to all of the Group's employees and provides a facility for them to bring matters to management's attention on a confidential basis. The hotline is provided by an independent third party. During 2014 these systems were operational throughout the Group. A full investigation is carried out on all matters raised and a report is prepared for feedback to the complainant.

The Company Secretary is required to report to the Audit Committee semi-annually on the integrity of these procedures, the state of ongoing investigations and conclusions reached. During 2014 Group employees used this system to raise concerns about a number of separate issues, all of which were appropriately responded to.

Overall assessment

The risk framework, as outlined above, gives reasonable assurance that the structure of controls in operation is appropriate to the Group's situation and that there is an acceptable level of risk throughout the business.

The Board confirms that there is an ongoing process for identifying, evaluating and managing the significant risks faced by the Group and that this has been in place for the year under review and up to the date of approval of the Annual Report and Accounts.

relations with shareholders

The Company recognises the importance of communicating with its Shareholders, including its employee Shareholders, to ensure that its strategy and performance is understood. This is achieved principally through the Annual Report and Accounts and the AGM. The Group's annual and interim results, as well as all announcements issued to the London Stock Exchange, are published on the Company's website. The Company issues regular trading updates to the market and these, together with copies of the presentations made to analysts, can also be found on the Company's website. In addition, a range of other corporate information is available to investors on the Company's website (www.sigplc.com).

The Chief Executive, Group Finance Director and Head of Investor Relations are primarily responsible for direct investor relations. The Board is kept informed of investors' views through distribution and regular discussion of analysts' and brokers' briefings and a summary of investor opinion feedback. In addition, feedback from major Shareholders is reported to the Board by the Chairman and the Group Finance Director and discussed at its meetings. Formal presentations are made to institutional Shareholders following the announcement of the Company's annual and interim results.

Contact is also maintained, where appropriate, with Shareholders to discuss overall remuneration plans and policies. The Chairman and the Senior Independent Director are available to discuss governance and strategy with major Shareholders if requested, and both are prepared to contact individual Shareholders should any specific areas of concern or enquiry be raised.

Throughout the year, we respond to correspondence received from Shareholders on a wide range of issues and also participate in a number of surveys and questionnaires submitted by a variety of investor research bodies. Although the other Non-Executive Directors are not at present asked to meet the Company's Shareholders, they regularly attend presentations of the annual and interim results.

The Board recognises that the AGM is the principal forum for dialogue with private Shareholders and all Shareholders are invited to attend. All Directors attend the AGM and are available to answer any questions that Shareholders may wish to raise. The Notice of Meeting is sent to Shareholders at least 20 working days before the meeting. The Company provides a facility for Shareholders to vote electronically and the Form of Proxy provides Shareholders with the option of withholding their vote on a resolution if they so wish. Shareholders vote on a show of hands, unless a poll is validly called and, after each such vote, the number of Proxy votes received for or against the resolution together with the number of abstentions is announced. The Company Secretary ensures that votes are properly received and recorded. Details of the Proxies lodged on all resolutions are published on the Company's website immediately after the AGM.

Substantial shareholdings

At the date of approval of the 2014 Annual Report and Accounts, the Company had received notification of the following shareholdings in excess of 3% of its issued share capital pursuant to the Disclosure and Transparency Rules of the Financial Conduct Authority (these holdings were the same as at 31 December 2014):

ShareholderNumber of
ordinary shares
of 10p each
% of
issued voting
share capital
Blackrock Inc.65,013,83911.00
Aviva plc38,239,2126.47
IKO Enterprises Limited25,760,8914.36

Statement of the Directors on the disclosure of information to the Auditor

The Directors who held office at the date of approval of this Statutory Information confirm that:

  • so far as they are each aware, there is no relevant audit information of which the Company's Auditor is unaware; and
  • each Director has taken all steps that he/she ought to have taken as a Director to make himself/herself aware of any relevant audit information and to establish that the Company's Auditor is aware of that information.

This confirmation is given and should be interpreted in accordance with the provisions of Section 418 of the Companies Act 2006.

Going concern

After making enquiries the Directors have formed a judgment, at the time of approving the Accounts, that there is a reasonable expectation that the Group has adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future. For this reason the Directors continue to adopt the going concern basis in preparing the financial statements. The key factors considered by the Directors in making this statement are set out under Treasury Risk Management of the Strategic Report.

Independent Auditor

On the recommendation of the Audit Committee in accordance with Section 489 of the Companies Act 2006, resolutions are to be proposed at the AGM for the reappointment of Deloitte LLP as Auditor of the Company and to authorise the Audit Committee to fix its remuneration. The remuneration of the Auditor for the year ended 31 December 2014 is fully disclosed in Note 4 to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

Annual General Meeting

The Notice convening the AGM which is to be held at the Mercure Sheffield Parkway Hotel, Britannia Way, Catcliffe, Sheffield S60 5BD at 12 noon on Thursday 14 May 2015, together with explanatory notes on the resolutions to be proposed and full details of the deadlines for exercising voting rights, is contained in a circular which will be circulated to all Shareholders at least 20 working days before such meeting along with this Report. This document will also be available on the SIG plc website (www.sigplc.com). All Shareholders are invited to the Company's AGM, at which they will have the opportunity to put questions to the Board.

Other statutory disclosures

Principal activity and business review

The principal activity of the Group is the supply of specialist products to construction and related markets in the UK, Ireland and Mainland Europe. The main product sectors supplied are Insulation and Energy Management, Exteriors and Interiors.

The Chairman's Statement and Strategic Report contain a review of these activities and comment on the future outlook and developments. The financial risk management objectives, policies and key performance indicators of the Company are also set out in the Strategic Report.

As at the date of this report, there have been no important events affecting the business of the Company, or any of its subsidiaries, which have occurred since the end of the financial year.

Details of the Group's policies in relation to employees (including disabled employees) and information on charitable donations are disclosed in the Corporate Responsibility Report. It is the Group's policy not to make political donations and no political donations were made during the year (2013: £nil).

Details of the Group's policies in relation to Corporate Governance can be viewed in this section.

Group results and dividends

View the Consolidated Income Statement for the year ended 31 December 2014. The movement in Group reserves during the year is shown in the Consolidated Statement of Changes in Equity. Segmental information is set out in Note 1 to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

The Board is recommending a final dividend of 2.98p per share (2013: 2.40p) which, together with the interim dividend of 1.42p per share (2013:1.15p), makes a total for the year ended 31 December 2014 of 4.40p (2013: 3.55p). Payment of the final dividend, if approved at the AGM, will be made on 29 May 2015 to Shareholders registered at the close of business on 1 May 2015.

Greenhouse gases

Details of the Group's greenhouse gas emissions are detailed in the Corporate Responsibility Report.

Post balance sheet events

Details of post balance sheet events are included in Note 14 of the Consolidated Financial Statements.

Related party transactions

Save as disclosed in Note 30 to the Consolidated Financial Statements and except for Directors' service contracts, the Company did not have any material transactions or transactions of an unusual nature with, and did not make loans to, related parties in the periods in which any Director is or was materially interested.

Directors' and Officers' liability insurance and indemnities

The Company purchases liability insurance cover for Directors and Officers of the Company and its subsidiaries which gives appropriate cover for any legal action brought against them. The Company has also provided an indemnity which was in force during the financial year for its Directors to the extent permitted by the law in respect of liabilities incurred as a result of their office. The indemnity would not provide any coverage to the extent that a Director is proved to have acted fraudulently or dishonestly.

No claims or qualifying indemnity provisions and no qualifying pension scheme indemnity provisions have been made either during the year or by the time of approval of this Directors' Report.

Financial instruments

Information on the Group's financial risk management objectives and policies and on the exposure of the Group to relevant risks arising from financial instruments is set out in Treasury Risk Management and in Note 19 to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

Acquisitions and disposals

Details of acquisitions made during the year and subsequently are covered in Note 14 of the Consolidated Financial Statements. Details of businesses sold during the year are covered in Note 11 of the Consolidated Financial Statements.

Share capital

The Company has a single class of share capital which is divided into ordinary shares of 10p each. At 31 December 2014, the Company had a called up share capital of 591,137,803 ordinary shares of 10p each (2013: 591,100,447).

During the year ended 31 December 2014, options were exercised pursuant to the Company's share option schemes, resulting in the allotment of 37,356 new ordinary shares. No new ordinary shares have been allotted under these schemes since the end of the financial year to the date of this Report. Details of outstanding options under the Group's Employee and Executive Schemes are set out in Note 9 which also contains details of options granted over unissued share capital.

Rights attaching to shares

The rights attaching to the ordinary shares are defined in the Company's Articles of Association. The Articles of Association may be changed with the agreement of Shareholders. A Shareholder whose name appears on the Company's Register of Members can choose whether his shares are evidenced by share certificates (i.e. in certificated form) or held in electronic (i.e. uncertificated) form in CREST (the electronic settlement system in the UK).

Subject to any restrictions below, Shareholders may attend any general meeting of the Company and, on a show of hands, every Shareholder (or his representative) who is present at a general meeting has one vote on each resolution and, on a poll, every Shareholder (or his representative) who is present has one vote on each resolution for every ordinary share of which they are the registered Shareholder.

A resolution put to the vote of a general meeting is decided on a show of hands unless before or on the declaration of the result of a vote on a show of hands, a poll is demanded by the Chairman of the meeting, or by at least five Shareholders (or their representatives) present in person and having the right to vote, or by any Shareholders (or their representatives) present in person having at least 10% of the total voting rights of all Shareholders, or by any Shareholders (or their representatives) present in person holding ordinary shares in which an aggregate sum has been paid up of at least one-tenth of the total sum paid up on all ordinary shares.

Shareholders can declare final dividends by passing an ordinary resolution but the amount of the dividends cannot exceed the amount recommended by the Board. The Board can pay interim dividends on any class of shares of the amounts and on the dates and for the periods they decide provided the distributable profits of the Company justify such payment. The Board may, if authorised by an ordinary resolution of the Shareholders, offer any Shareholder the right to elect to receive new ordinary shares, which will be credited as fully paid, instead of their cash dividend.

Any dividend which has not been claimed for twelve years after it became due for payment will be forfeited and will then belong to the Company, unless the Directors decide otherwise.

If the Company is wound up, the liquidator can, with the sanction of an extraordinary resolution passed by the Shareholders, divide among the Shareholders all or any part of the assets of the Company and he/she can value any assets and determine how the division shall be carried out as between the members or different classes of members. The liquidator can also transfer the whole or any part of the assets to trustees upon any trusts for the benefit of the members. No Shareholders can be compelled to accept any asset which would give them a liability.

Voting at general meetings

Any Form of Proxy sent by the Company to Shareholders in relation to any general meeting must be delivered to the Company, whether in written form or in electronic form, not less than 48 hours before the time appointed for holding the meeting or adjourned meeting at which the person named in the appointment proposes to vote.

No Shareholder is, unless the Board decides otherwise, entitled to attend or vote either personally or by proxy at a general meeting or to exercise any other right conferred by being a Shareholder if he/she or any person with an interest in shares has been sent a Notice under Section 793 of the Companies Act 2006 (which confers upon public companies the power to require information with respect to interests in their voting shares) and he/she or any interested person failed to supply the Company with the information requested within 14 days after delivery of that Notice. The Board may also decide that no dividend is payable in respect of those default shares and that no transfer of any default shares shall be registered.

These restrictions end seven days after receipt by the Company of a Notice of an approved transfer of the shares or all the information required by the relevant Section 793 Notice, whichever is the earlier.

Transfer of shares

The Board may refuse to register a transfer of a certificated share which is not fully paid, provided that the refusal does not prevent dealings in shares in the Company from taking place on an open and proper basis. The Board may also refuse to register a transfer of a certificated share unless: (i) the instrument of transfer is lodged, duly stamped (if stampable), at the registered office of the Company or any other place decided by the Board accompanied by a certificate for the share to which it relates and such other evidence as the Board may reasonably require to show the right of the transferor to make the transfer; (ii) is in respect of only one class of shares; and (iii) is in favour of not more than four transferees.

Transfer of uncertificated shares must be carried out using CREST and the Board can refuse to register a transfer of an uncertificated share in accordance with the regulations governing the operation of CREST.

The Board may decide to suspend the registration of transfers, for up to 30 days a year, by closing the register of Shareholders. The Board cannot suspend the registration of transfers of any uncertificated shares without gaining consent from CREST. There are no other limitations on the holding of ordinary shares in the Company.

Variation of rights

If at any time the capital of the Company is divided into different classes of shares, the special rights attaching to any class may be varied or revoked either:

  1. with the written consent of the holders of at least 75% in nominal value of the issued shares of the class; or
  2. with the sanction of an extraordinary resolution passed at a separate general meeting of the holders of the shares of the class.

The Company can issue new shares and attach any rights to them. If there is no restriction by special rights attaching to existing shares, rights attaching to new shares can take priority over the rights of existing shares, or the new shares and the existing shares are deemed to be varied (unless the rights expressly allow it) by a reduction of paid up capital, or if another share of that same class is issued and ranks in priority for payment of dividend, or in respect of capital or more favourable voting rights.

Election and re-election of Directors

The Company may, by ordinary resolution, of which special notice has been given in accordance with the Companies Act, remove any Director before the expiration of his/her period of office. The office of a Director shall be vacated if:

(i) he/she ceases to be a Director by virtue of any provision of law or is removed pursuant to the Company's Articles of Association or he/she becomes prohibited by law from being a Director;

(ii) he/she becomes bankrupt or compounds with his/her creditors generally;

(iii) he/she becomes of unsound mind or a patient for any purpose of any statute relating to mental health and the Board resolves that his/her office is vacated;

(iv) he/she resigns;

(v) he/she fails to attend Board meetings for six consecutive months without leave of absence from the Board and the Board resolves that his/her office is vacated;

(vi) his/her appointment terminates in accordance with the provisions of the Company's Articles;

(vii) he/she is dismissed from Executive office;

(viii) he/she is convicted of an indictable offence and the Directors resolve that it is undesirable in the interests of the Company that he/she remains a Director; or

(ix) the conduct of the Director is the subject of an investigation and the Directors resolve that it is undesirable in the interests of the Company that he/she remains a Director.

Agreements with employees and significant agreements (contracts of significance)

There are no agreements between the Company and its Directors or employees providing for compensation for loss of office or employment (whether through resignation, purported redundancy or otherwise) that occurs because of a takeover bid.

The Company's banking arrangements are terminable upon a change of control of the Company. Certain other indebtedness becomes repayable if a change of control leads to a downgrade in the credit rating of the Company.

Fixed assets

In the opinion of the Directors, there is no material difference between the book value and the current open market value of the Group's interests in land and buildings.

CREST

The Company's ordinary shares are in CREST, the settlement system for stocks and shares.

2015 Interim Report

Current regulations permit the Company not to send hard copies of its Interim Reports to Shareholders and therefore the Company intends to publish its Interim Report only on its website at www.sigplc.com.

Acquisition by the Company of its own ordinary shares

Shareholders' authority for the purchase by the Company of 59,110,044 of its own shares existed at the end of the year. The Company has made no purchases of its own ordinary shares pursuant to this authority. The Company will seek to renew this authority at the 2015 AGM.

Authority to allot ordinary shares

Shareholders' authority to allot ordinary shares up to an aggregate nominal amount of £19,703,348 existed at the end of the year. The Company has not issued any ordinary shares pursuant to this authority. The Company will seek to renew this authority at the 2015 AGM.

During the year ended 31 December 2014, options were exercised pursuant to the Company's share option schemes resulting in the allotment of 37,356 new ordinary shares. No new ordinary shares have been allotted under these schemes since the end of the financial year to the date of this Report. Details of outstanding options under the Group's Employee and Executive Schemes are set out in Note 9 which also contains details of options granted over unissued share capital.

Fair, balanced and understandable

The Directors have a responsibility for preparing the 2014 Annual Report and Accounts and for making certain confirmations concerning it. In accordance with C.1 of the Code, the Board has reviewed the contents of this year's Annual Report and Accounts and in its view, the report is fair, balanced and understandable. More information can be found in the Audit Committee Report.

Cautionary statement

The cautionary statement can be found under the Treasury Risk Management section of the Strategic Report.

Scope of the reporting in this Annual Report and Accounts

The Corporate Governance Report (including the Board biographies), the Audit Committee Report, the Directors' Remuneration Report the Nominations Committee Report, and the Directors' Responsibility Statement are incorporated by reference and form part of this Directors' Report.

The Board has prepared a Strategic Report (including the Chief Executive's statement) which provides an overview of the development and performance of the Company's business in the year ended 31 December 2014 and its position at the end of the year, and which covers likely future developments in the business of the Company and Group. The Corporate Responsibility Report forms part of the Strategic Report.

For the purposes of compliance with DTR 4.1.5R(2) and DTR 4.1.8R, the required content of the "Management Report" can be found in the Strategic Report and this Directors' Report, including the sections of the Annual Report and Accounts incorporated by reference.

For the purposes of LR 9.8.4C R, the information required to be disclosed by LR 9.8.4 R can be found in the following locations:

SectionTopicLocation
(1)Interest capitalisedFinancial Statements, Note 13
(2)Publication of unaudited financial informationNot applicable
(4)Details of long-term incentive schemesDirectors' Remuneration Report
(5)Waiver of emoluments by a directorNot applicable
(6)Waiver of future emoluments by a directorNot applicable
(7)Non pre-emptive issues of equity for cashNot applicable
(8)Item (7) in relation to major subsidiary undertakingsNot applicable
(9)Parent participation in a placing by a listed subsidiaryNot applicable
(10)Contracts of significanceCorporate Governance Report
(11)Provision of services by a controlling shareholderNot applicable
(12)Shareholder waivers of dividendsNot applicable
(13)Shareholder waivers of future dividendsNot applicable
(14)Agreements with controlling shareholdersNot applicable

SIG has been mindful of the best practice guidance published by Defra and other bodies in relation to environmental, community and social KPIs when drafting the Strategic Report. The Board has also considered social, environmental and ethical risks, in line with the best practice recommendations of the Association of British Insurers. Management, led by the Chief Executive, has responsibility for identifying and managing such risks, which are discussed extensively in this Annual Report and Accounts.

All the information cross-referenced is hereby incorporated by reference into this Directors' Report.

Approval of the Directors' Report

The Directors' Report was approved by a duly authorised Committee of the Board of Directors on 11 March 2015 and signed on its behalf by Richard Monro, the Company Secretary.

Richard Monro

Company Secretary

11 March 2015