In operating a franchise business model, the Belvoir Group does not have a significant environmental impact. However, the Board is mindful of good environmental practises and has taken the following steps to minimise our impact on the environment, and is reviewing what further initiatives could be introduced.
Green working group
We have formed a working group to develop our sustainability strategy, to review good environmental practises, to consider how best to implement these internally and also to share and encourage similar behaviour with other stakeholders, including our franchisees and our landlords.
We have instigated a recycling waste collection and have replaced single use plastic drinking cups with glasses where possible and recyclable cups otherwise.
Promoting a zero carbon commute
We operate a cycle to work scheme open to all employees to encourage good health as well as reducing emissions from a daily car commute.
Reducing carbon pollution
Through our “plant-a-tree” initiative for every Newton Fallowell house sale, we have planted over 5,000 trees in 2020.
Initiatives under review
Where practicable we intend to switch to electric pool and company cars. This will involve installing an electric charging point at our Central Office for the pool cars parked there overnight. The barrier for switching to electric pool cars for our corporate-owned shops is the availability of charging points in the local public cars parks where our cars are parked overnight. We anticipate such availability improving over time.
We will be reviewing the possibility of switching to energy-saving lighting and heating for our offices.
We aim to engage with our franchisees to identify and share good environmental practises.
We intend to prepare a guide for landlords on how to make their properties more energy-efficient.
We believe in embracing the highest business morals and ethics in dealing with all stakeholders: our investors, our franchisees, our staff and our clients. Our core values of delivering excellent customer care and a quality, professional service, and being open and transparent when dealing with our stakeholders have been key to our success throughout our 25‑year history.
Our mutual success relies on our property and financial services networks collaborating, all supported by our Central Office team.
Our model is underpinned by networks of highly motivated business owners.
Each office is in control of its own operations so is more able to react to local market and sector-wide conditions.
We see the training and development of our staff, our franchisees and our advisers as critical to the success of our business.
We recognise that homes are of paramount importance to our customers so trust and integrity are essential in supporting our customers on their property journey.
Our people comprise a highly skilled team of employees, property franchisees and financial services advisers who understand that
trust, confidence and communication are of paramount importance when advising customers on their home and any associated
mortgage. Our business would not thrive without exceptional people who exceed expectations.
Belvoir is committed to recruiting, developing, retaining and rewarding highly motivated people who are talented, creative and focused on delivering excellence. Belvoir believes that human capital management is critical in building a successful team and invests in a high degree of employee engagement in order to attract and retain professional staff with the requisite skills. In 2020 we invested in a mini-MBA course to enable 15 of our Senior Management Team to develop in their roles.
Of particular concern as a result of the pandemic is the opportunities available to young people. During 2020 Belvoir recruited three new apprentices and was accepted as a Kickstart Scheme Gateway on behalf of the Group with a view to creating 40 jobs for young people at risk of long-term unemployment.
sponsored under the Apprenticeship Scheme
Our franchisees’ ability to develop relationships built on trust and quality service lies at the heart of our success. A key part of our training programme focuses on our franchisees better understanding themselves and how they interact with other people so that they can develop strategies for building strong and enduring relationships with their customers.
Supporting the local communities in which we operate is important to our Group. In 2021 we knew that lots of families were having a tough time with many relying on their local food bank. The Belvoir Group joined in with the Agents Giving initiative to unite estate and lettings agents across the UK to help those who were struggling, with our offices acting as collection points for food donations from their staff, clients, contractors and passers-by. Our collection point at Belvoir Grantham donated 189kg of food plus £400 to its local food bank.
held by our regional networking groups
The Board was grateful to have received valuable Government Covid-19 support at the height of the pandemic under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and through small business grants, that enabled the Group to retain staff during this very difficult period. However, given the Group’s resilient trading, which has benefitted from the Governments strategy to support the property market during the pandemic, the Board took the socially responsible decision to repay in full the £260,000 Covid furlough monies and grants received.
of food donated
My estate agency career began, aged 16, in the print room of Countrywide in Camberley Surrey 39 years ago. Within two years I was managing my first branch and subsequently went on to hold senior roles within independent, franchised and corporate firms, giving me an all-round experience.
Having operated my own property and recruitment franchise for five years, I joined Belvoir in 2008 as Head of Franchise Recruitment. In 2011 I was enticed away to join Newton Fallowell, a highly respected regional franchise estate agency network, as Franchise Director with a shareholding in the company. Life went almost full circle when in 2015 the Belvoir Group acquired Newton Fallowell.
Newton Fallowell has since flourished with our franchisees benefiting from incredible Group business support and the 2020 acquisition of Lovelle marking another exciting chapter in its history. Having been appointed Managing Director in 2019, I now have responsibility for the combined Newton Fallowell and Lovelle network of 54 branches. I am extremely proud of our franchisees, who excelled themselves in 2020, achieving record sales figures, and taking advantage of all opportunities for business growth.
In 2020 we celebrated ten years as Belvoir Swansea by opening a third office in Sketty and expanding into financial services.
Running a franchise as a couple has its challenges, especially in achieving a work/ life balance as its all too easy to find ourselves talking “Belvoir” at home. On the upside, running our own businesses has given us the flexibility needed to juggle work with a young family.
Our complementary skill sets, with Daisy overseeing operations and Ben focusing on sales and financial services, have been key to how we have successfully grown our business. Having started as a lettings only agency, we launched sales in 2017 and within three years sales accounted for 25% of our revenue. This gave us the confidence to team up with Mortgage Advice Bureau, and take on an in-house mortgage adviser who covers all three offices in Swansea, Mumbles and Sketty. We look forward to developing financial services further in 2021.
Although the pandemic was a difficult and fluid situation, we were really happy with the support Central Office provided – and being able to lean on other franchisees within the Belvoir family.
My journey as a franchisee began three years ago when Aman Singh and I jointly acquired the Northwood Newcastle office.
We are both very entrepreneurial so jumped at the chance to acquire Bowes Mitchell in 2020 adding 224 rental properties to our portfolio, With a total of over 500 properties, we became one of the largest agents in the area. This was our target for 2021, so to achieve this a year ahead of target was amazing. Bowes Mitchell has an excellent reputation for sales, so with the recovery of the sales market post the first lockdown, we have been extremely busy.
We now have a team of 20 people working across both offices and we are in the process of rebranding and integrating the new business into the Northwood brand, as well as consolidating our position in the market. One of the great things about being part of a franchise is our ability to call on the support of Belvoir’s Central Office team, which was absolutely invaluable during lockdown. Buying Northwood Newcastle has been one of the best things we have ever done.
Businesses do not operate in isolation. Without a good understanding of who the key stakeholders are and their needs, a business will fail to deliver sustainable value to shareholders and other stakeholders.
The Directors take their duties under Section 172 of the Companies Act 2016 seriously and consider that they have acted in the way they consider, in good faith, would promote the success of the Company for the benefit of its members as a whole, having regard to the stakeholders and matters set out in Section 172 in the decisions taken during the year ended 31 December 2020. We set out our aim to support customers throughout their property journey. We do this primarily through our franchisees and our network of financial advisers. The Board considers its key stakeholders to be its franchisees and financial advisers, employees, the communities in which we operate, shareholders and regulators. The Board takes seriously the views of these stakeholders in setting and implementing our strategy. To the extent that it is relevant, in addition to the stakeholders discussed below, the impact on the environment and the communities in which the Group operates is considered when making decisions.
The two key decisions in 2020 were:
Acquisition of Lovelle. This enabled the group to extend its reach into North Lincolnshire and the Humber providing valuable operational and business development support to the franchisees within the Lovelle network and enhancing the quality of services available to the local community in meeting their property aspirations, whilst providing an incremental return to investors.
Covid-19 response. The decisions taken by the Board were aimed at safeguarding the well-being of our franchisees, advisers, staff, customers and local communities, whilst securing the ongoing viability of our business and protecting shareholder value. We set out below how we have engaged with key stakeholders which provides valuable input into the Board’s decision making. In particular our engagement with shareholders has influenced our acquisition, capital structure and dividend policy. Our engagement with our franchisees has influenced our assisted acquisitions programme, our diversification into financial services and the roll out of our new technology programme. Our employees are fundamental to the execution of our strategy. We aim to be a responsible employer providing a fair package of pay and benefits including opportunities for personal development and sharing in the financial success of the Group.
Franchisees and advisers
- Periodic meetings are held with their dedicated Business Development Manager to build relations and to provide business support.
- Regional networking groups and an annual conference enabling franchisees to meet and share ideas.
- In 2020 the above periodic and regional meetings were held on Zoom. These were well attended and proved to be very effective.
- Prompt updates from our Operations Director on all legal, compliance and Covid-19 regulatory changes.
- All staff have an annual personal development review and regular one-to-one meetings with their line manager to monitor performance against the agreed plan.
- The CEO and CFO hold meetings once a year with each department and conduct twice‑yearly Company‑wide briefings, enabling sharing of information and gathering of employee feedback.
- Senior and long-serving staff are incentivised through the Company Share Option Plan. In January 2020, options over 285,689 shares were issued to long-serving staff.
- Since 2016 our Central Office has supported six young people from our local community through the Apprenticeship Scheme. A further three apprentices were recruited in 2020.
- In 2020 Belvoir and Newton Fallowell sponsored two lanes in the Grantham Swimarathon, an event that raises around £30,000 for local charities and good causes.
- Newton Fallowell planted 5,000 trees, one for every house sold by its network in 2020, and has committed to planting a further 6,000 in 2021.
- Virtual investor presentations at the time of our preliminary and interim results enabled our institutional and private investors direct access to our CEO and CFO.
- All recorded CEO interviews are available on videos and webcasts page.
- Throughout the year, we provided clear guidance to shareholders.
- We shared decisions with the relevant stakeholders regarding the dividend policy and repayment of Government Covid-19 support.
- We attend quarterly meetings of The Lettings Industry Council, an industry group at the forefront of communicating with the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government.
- Our Chairman, Michael Stoop, is a nonexecutive director of The Property Ombudsman and also chairman of its Industry Forum.
- Belvoir participates in all discussions on key industry legislation and regulatory changes, the current focus concerning the new regulations proposed in the RoPA report.