Our Chair, Gerry Murphy, reports on an exceptional year and how, through the tremendous efforts of our people across the world, Tate & Lyle has kept focused on the longer term, while dealing with the challenges of the year.
(Excerpts taken from page 12 of the Annual Report 2021)
My Board colleagues and I are truly grateful, because we know that the outstanding performance achieved this year has required exceptional efforts by all our people to deliver strong financial, operating and strategic progress but also in looking after each other, our communities and our customers.
I would also like to thank our leadership team who have been exemplary in providing clear direction while supporting and encouraging everyone, from the smallest to the largest of our sites. Keeping people informed, connected, and focused on what’s most important, has been both difficult and essential.
In my view, Nick’s frequent virtual town halls, smaller café meetings, personal emails and videos set the standard for caring and thoughtful communication during an unprecedented crisis. And I must thank my Board colleagues for their contribution too. We have been more engaged with management than ever this year, and we got much closer to the wider team through our own virtual interactions. We hosted regional virtual cafés open to all employees and some special sessions on key topics.
Our purpose - a powerful motivator
Nick and his team said from the start of the pandemic that we must be guided by our purpose, with our first imperative being to keep our people and communities safe and well. What came through loud and clear from our virtual conversations was just how anchoring this purpose message has been for our people.
When everything outside is confusing and uncertain, our purpose confirms a set of beliefs and an enduring direction in all circumstances. It reminds our people, whether working in plants with unsettling and difficult constraints, or working at home on their screens, that what they are doing is really important, and not just for today.
Tackling climate change
Covid-19 has shown that humanity is just a subset of a bigger, complex natural ecosystem which is inherently fragile. It has also accelerated the world’s focus on environmental, social and governance issues because it has sensitised us to our own vulnerability and the consequences of what we do. Tackling the climate change crisis and protecting our natural resources for future generations is probably the most significant long-term challenge facing the world today.
As a business with an integral role in the food supply chain, we recognise our responsibility to play our part and during the year we set new and ambitious targets for 2030 in areas such as waste, water, agriculture and greenhouse gas emissions. Importantly, our Scope 1 and 2 and Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets were validated by the Science Based Targets initiative and align with the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement.
Investing to deliver our strategy
We have expanded our product portfolio and geographic footprint through two acquisitions, a stevia (natural sweetener) business in China and a tapioca-based texturant business in Thailand. These are important strategic developments in a number of ways. They diversify our raw material supply, expand our presence in the higher growth Asian markets, and broaden our sweetener and texturants solutions portfolio for customers globally.
I must congratulate our management team for completing these acquisitions while working remotely, without compromising any aspect of our due diligence.
The strategic progress we have made over the last few years has enabled the Board, as we announced in April 2021, to explore the potential to separate our two businesses, about which Nick expands in his review in the Annual Report. The Board is fully engaged in this important process and discussions are ongoing.
Thanking departing board members and welcoming new colleagues
Two outstanding non-executive directors, Anne Minto and Dr Ajai Puri, are retiring from the Board this year as they have now served for nine years. Anne has upheld the highest standards of governance through her stewardship of the Remuneration Committee, while Ajai’s continuing education of the Board on scientific and regulatory developments has been exemplary. We will miss them both for their specific expertise and their contributions to the wider Board agenda.
As we bid farewell to Anne and Ajai, I am delighted to welcome John Cheung and Patrícia Corsi to the Board. John is our first non-executive director to be based in Asia since I became Chair, and his wealth of expertise in the food and beverage industry in the region will be invaluable as we grow our Asian business. Similarly, Patrícia is our first Latin American non-executive director and brings extensive experience in this important growth market as well as expertise in global marketing, digital and brand development.
I am also delighted to welcome Vivid Sehgal to the Board. Vivid joined us as Chief Financial Officer Designate in March before becoming Chief Financial Officer in April. His extensive financial, commercial and transactional experience will be of great benefit to the Board and Tate & Lyle.
Staying focused on our shareholders, maintaining our progressive dividend policy
Notwithstanding our emphasis on protecting the interests of our broader stakeholders during this extraordinary year, the Board has retained its focus on our shareholders. We recognise the importance of dividends to our shareholders and, despite considerable uncertainty during the year, we maintained our interim dividend. Given the robust performance over the full year the Board is recommending an increase in the final dividend of 5.8% to 22.0 pence per share, bringing the total dividend for the year ended 31 March 2021 to 30.8 pence, an increase of 4.1%. This increase brings dividends to a level consistent with the Board’s progressive dividend policy, notwithstanding the pandemic.
It has been a very demanding year for all of us, both personally and professionally, and we still face continuing uncertainties. But despite everything, our business has continued to flourish. The agility and resilience of our people, along with their commitment, quality and decency reassures me that, whatever the world throws at us, Tate & Lyle will find a way to prosper.
Read Gerry's full review from page 12 of the Annual Report 2021
Read more about what else we’ve been up to over the past year in our Annual Report 2021
Download a copy of the Annual Report 2021 below