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Our material issues

Imperial defines material issues as those factors most likely to influence the decisions of our stakeholders in relation to the capital inputs they provide to the group, and the outcomes they expect to derive in return.

Materiality determination

This year, we revised our materiality determination process to address gaps identified during the 2020 materiality process, and our reading of the revised <IR> Framework, particularly with reference to their increased focus on process-related disclosures that underpin the integrity of the integrated report. The material issues presented in this report are the result of a more formalised and robust approach, the details of which are outlined below.

To make a clearer link to how our strategy will create and preserve value for our key stakeholders, and the factors we need to manage carefully to avoid the destruction of value, the capitals pertaining to our material issues are shown below. Our material issues are extensively referenced throughout the integrated report, to indicate how we are addressing them in our strategic plans and actions, and are therefore indicative of how the related capitals, and the stakeholder expectations and concerns attendant to them, are being managed.

Inputs to the materiality process

  • Internal documents including Imperial's purpose, strategy, strategic initiatives, risks, operating context, as well as documentation submitted to the board for review and approval throughout the course of the financial year.
  • These materials were selected in collaboration with key members of the Imperial executive team on the basis that they reflected the issues deemed most relevant, and therefore material, to group leadership, and most pertinent to the operation of the business as well as its ability to generate short-, medium- and long-term value in view of the 'triple context' (social, economic and environmental trends).
  • Questionnaires specifically designed as part of the materiality determination process were administered to members of the group executive team and included questions relating to stakeholder concerns and expectations, and value creation, protection and destruction.
  • Interviews conducted with Imperial's group CEO and group CFO.


  • Source documents, questionnaires and interview transcripts were studied in detail, with an online qualitative analysis platform used to code and theme the data through the lens of Imperial’s strategy and the six capitals.
  • This process produced 17 material issues organised into five themes. Each of the material issues is supported by a series of priorities or ongoing initiatives.


  • Once drafted, the material issues were reviewed and revised by key members of the Imperial executive team to ensure that the material issues were representative of all top-of-mind issues, across the group, its businesses and its functions.


  • The final set of material issues were reviewed, finalised and approved by the group board.







Growth and strategic transformation

Stakeholder concerns and expectations

Clients, principals and customers
Facilitated access to African markets; customised, client-centred solutions for complex supply chains; continued market relevance.
Employees and their representatives
Delivery in a challenging operating environment; unprecedented organisational change; income security.
Business partners and suppliers
Volume growth; increasing cost pressures; doing business in challenging, emerging markets; contract security.
Providers of capital
Strategic delivery; return on investment; cash generation; growth.

Preservation of scale


To ensure that Imperial remains a business of scale despite significant asset disposals, we must remain agile in a challenging operating environment and respond quickly and effectively to replace lost earnings.

This requires that we:

  • Replace earnings lost through significant disposals with higher quality earnings and returns.
  • Carefully select acquisitions aligned with our ‘One Imperial’ and ‘Gateway to Africa’ strategy and integrate these into our management systems, processes and culture over time.

Sustainable, organic revenue growth


The 'One Imperial' and 'Gateway to Africa' strategy will position the business for sustainable growth and improve efficiencies over the medium term.

Achieving organic growth requires that we:

  • Enhance our positioning as the 'Gateway to Africa' to attract new business and maintain our high contract renewal rate.
  • Focus our efforts on gaining new business by converting existing opportunities and building the pipeline for new opportunities.
  • Attract new clients and principals across all markets and businesses.
  • Improve underperforming businesses.

Demonstrate stability and strategic delivery to the market


In the recent past, we have participated in an unbundling, restructured, disposed of underperforming assets, acquired new material assets and introduced a bold new strategy in which we have the greatest confidence. Our current focus must now be on delivering on our strategic objectives and demonstrating stability to all key stakeholders.

Our current priorities include:

  • Showing tangible progress towards operating as 'One Imperial' - an integrated provider of logistics and market access solutions.
  • Avoiding a return to siloed operations and continuing our 'One Imperial' journey.
  • Investing in 'One Imperial' and the digital and IT, people and culture, marketing, communications, ESG and finance initiatives underpinning our transformation.
  • Leveraging the unique combination of Logistics and Market Access solutions to the advantage of our clients, principals and customers.
  • Demonstrating progress by continuing to build our commercial pipeline.
  • Integrating recent acquisitions to extract value.

Financial management

Stakeholder concerns and expectations

Clients, principals and customers
Continued market relevance; long-term, sustainable partnerships; trusted business partners; operational efficiency supporting a lower cost to serve.
Employees and their representatives
Organisational change, including systems change and process automation, income and job security.
Providers of capital
Return on investment; cash generation; growth; aligning capital allocation with strategic growth plans and long-term sustainability; reduced fixed costs; robust ESG practices and reporting to ensure access to green funding.
Financial compliance, integrity and strong internal controls.
Employment opportunities.

Financial controls, strict capital and cost management


How we manage our balance sheet and costs in a challenging operating environment, exacerbated by the effects of COVID-19, is central to our financial sustainability and our ability to execute on our strategy in the long term.

Key priorities include:

  • Establishing centre-led key finance functions in the medium term, to ensure strong governance and consolidated strategic focus.
  • Strict financial controls to govern our operating expenses, working capital, cashflows, debtors, capital expenditure and foreign exchange risk, supported by our strong treasury function.
  • Managing underperforming businesses and disposing of non-core assets at attractive multiples to reduce debt and enable further investment in growth.
  • Increasing efficiencies and our ability to appropriately manage key financial risks by investing in digitised processes and systems.

Capital allocation and generation


Delivering on our 'One Imperial' and 'Gateway to Africa' strategy requires investment in key areas of the business.

Key priorities include:

  • Driving both organic and acquisitive growth.
  • Protecting margins and revenue in our continuing operations.
  • Securing an optimal balance between equity and debt.
  • Targeted allocation of capital to enhance 'Gateway to Africa' strategy while ensuring appropriate return on capital.
  • Investing in and leveraging digital capabilities to identify new sources of revenue, positioning Imperial beyond its core logistics and market access offerings.

Business continuity


As an essential services provider, many of our businesses remain operational during COVID-19 lockdown, however, volumes are reduced during these periods. We must therefore manage potential disruptions and cash flow to ensure uninterrupted operations.

To do this, we have:

  • Invested in COVID-19-related protocols and remain responsive to regularly updated COVID-19-related regulations and restrictions.
  • Introduced new ways of working to respond to the unique demands imposed by the pandemic and related restrictions.
  • Implemented tight financial controls on working capital management and expenditure to ensure sufficient cashflow for uninterrupted operations.

Digital and IT

Stakeholder concerns and expectations

Clients, principals and customers
Improved efficiencies; supply chain visibility; data-driven innovation; digital capabilities ensuring continued market relevance; technologically driven changes to business models in the industry; improved billing capabilities.
Employees and their representatives
Digital platform acceptability and availability; data privacy; data-driven insights and decision making; administrative complexity.
Business partners and suppliers
Duplicated efforts; data-driven sourcing decisions; administrative complexity due to decentralised, legacy systems.
Providers of capital
Enhanced revenue growth; new revenue streams; delivery on digital strategy and performance.

Investing in digital and IT


Investing adequately in our digital and IT capabilities is fundamental to our ability to deliver on our 'One Imperial' and 'Gateway to Africa' strategy, and to transform to a digital, technology-enabled and innovative organisation. Digital and IT transformations carry upfront investments, with benefits only seen in the medium to longer term, however, digital capabilities are key to transforming Imperial, enabling our growth aspirations and securing our competitive advantage.

Our current priorities include:

  • Repositioning Imperial as a digitally and technologically enabled integrated logistics and market access business.
  • Using data insights to guide and improve decision making.
  • Differentiating our offerings to clients, principals and customers to secure a competitive advantage.
  • Identifying, integrating and owning potentially disruptive technologies and businesses.

Digital skills and user adoption


People and culture initiatives relating to talent recruitment, training and development and change management are central to successfully implementing our digital and IT strategy.

To ensure that digital and IT initiatives are executed effectively and timeously, we must:

  • Engage with our people to communicate the value of the shift to digital, foster acceptance of digitisation, and to facilitate data-driven decision making and a culture of innovation.
  • Recruit required talent and retrain employees across all levels of the organisation to ensure our people have the skills required to engage with and use new digital and IT platforms.

Environmental, social and governance (ESG)

Stakeholder concerns and expectations

Clients, principals and customers
Market reputation; legitimacy and credibility across operations; trusted corporate partners; high ethical, governance and supply chain standards; supply chain visibility.
Employees and their representatives
Being part of an inspirational, innovative, responsible and caring brand; being part of an organisation with a clear purpose; workforce diversity.
Providers of capital
Long-term economic, environmental and social sustainability; global ESG and sustainability ratings and disclosure.
Environmental and social impact; adequate governance practices; meeting regulatory requirements; local job creation and preservation.
Environmental and social impact; climate change; social investment; skills upliftment; good governance and corporate responsibility; continued investment despite the challenging operating environment.

ESG integration


As a purpose-driven organisation, ESG is a pillar of our group strategy. Developing and harnessing our ESG strategy and related opportunities are central to ensuring our continued legitimacy and meeting the demands of our clients, principals and customers. A core focus over the short to medium term is on enabling our operating companies to achieve their business objectives by integrating ESG practices into their day-to-day activities, adding value in the form of cost efficiencies and savings, and serving as a competitive advantage.

To integrate ESG into our business operations, we:

  • Compiled and approved Imperial's first comprehensive ESG strategy, with agreed targets and aspirations for the short, medium and long term.
  • Incorporated ESG into our value proposition to clients, principals and customers.
  • Linked ESG targets to executive KPIs and remuneration via the ESG pillar of the Group strategy, as well as linking annual targets to management KPIs and remuneration for those responsible for our ESG initiatives.
  • Are engaging with internal project leaders to understand areas of synergy between projects, to produce financial efficiencies alongside environmental co-benefits (eg Project Blue Fleet).
  • Are developing a standard set of procedures for evaluating ESG practices and performance of potential acquisition targets to ensure ESG is considered in this process.

ESG performance, disclosure and reporting


Our strong ESG performance and disclosures represent an opportunity to build a competitive advantage and to access alternative funding sources. This will serve us well as ESG receives heightened focus from many stakeholders, and as shareholders begin to incorporate ESG practices and ratings into investment decisions.

Harnessing the value of our ESG strategy and performance requires that we:

  • Demonstrate our commitment to, and tangible progress against, our ESG goals and aspirations through our ESG-related practices and disclosures.
  • Develop dashboards to track and monitor progress against agreed KPIs.
  • Align our ESG reporting to international frameworks, and improve our disclosure on climate change by aligning with TCFD.

Local relevance and legitimacy


As a responsible corporate citizen, we strive to do good in the communities in which we operate, ensuring that our presence has a net positive impact on our countries of operation and local communities.

Key priorities include:

  • Growing local logistics and supply chain capacity in various industries.
  • Creating opportunities for local people in our countries of operation to harness in-country knowledge, improve our employee value proposition for our local workforces and enhance our legitimacy.
  • Supporting enterprise development and impactful CSI initiatives that provide access to quality and affordable healthcare services, increase the reach of quality education, promote equality and improve road safety.
  • Monitoring and understanding our social impact in the communities in which we operate.

People and culture

Stakeholder concerns and expectations

Clients, principals and customers
Appropriate and future-fit skills and workforce.
Employees and their representatives
Unprecedented change, amplifying uncertainty; effective and integrated change management; good fit between personal values and Imperial values; meaningful and purposeful work; working environment supportive of personal and career growth; clear processes and communications; diversity and transformation; safe working environment; training and skills development; adapting to new ways of working; good work-life balance and flexible working arrangements.
Providers of capital
Remuneration policy and KPIs that reward strategic delivery; organisational responsiveness to changing operating conditions.
Human and labour rights; employment equity; occupational health and safety.
Employment opportunities; diversity and transformation.

Organisational culture and change


Our 'One Imperial' journey is requiring changes to our organisational structures and a fundamental shift in strategy to become a digitally and technologically enabled provider of logistics and market access solutions. We have made good progress and continue to manage organisational change to ensure value is protected, and our people are supported throughout this transformation.

Our key priorities include:

  • Uniting our people through our purpose and new set of values.
  • Driving internal brand awareness and engagement to communicate our purpose and values to our people, enabling them to actively participate in our shared 'One Imperial' journey and embedding our values across all levels of the organisation.
  • Improving the quality and frequency of communication regarding our 'One Imperial' journey across various channels, including email, SMS and our internal communications platform.
  • Implementing an appropriate organisational structure and IT system for the people and culture function to enable the business to operate as 'One Imperial'.
  • Introducing a consistent 'One Imperial' people model and associated ways of working for all our people practices.

Employee health, safety and wellness


Our people's health, safety and wellness are always a priority for Imperial. We are committed to supporting our people during times of unprecedented change, and ensuring they remain safe and well.

We do this by:

  • Reacting swiftly to minimise harm, ensure the safety and wellbeing of our people and business continuity in cases of disruption (eg COVID-19 and social unrest).
  • Providing appropriate and relevant psychological support to our employees.
  • Continuing to provide job and income security.
  • Continually engaging with our people to ensure they remain productive, motivated and part of 'One Imperial'.

Attracting, retaining and developing talent


To drive strategic delivery and propel growth, we must attract, develop and retain employees with the right management and technical skills.

To achieve this, we are:

  • Identifying needed capabilities across job levels, businesses and operating entities, and filling roles where gaps are identified.
  • Identifying future-fit skills required across the organisation.
  • Communicating our current strategy, shift to a purpose-led culture, organisational values and commitment to good corporate citizenship to current and prospective employees.
  • Rolling out initiatives to support career growth and meaningful work.
  • Supporting our supervisory staff and enabling them to create a working environment more supportive of personal and career growth.
  • Investing in training and skills development initiatives.

Workforce and skills diversity


Our ability to meet stakeholder expectations, local regulations, deliver on our strategy and attract new talent is contingent on our ability to demonstrate tangible progress in building race, gender and skills diversity at Imperial.

Some key initiatives include:

  • Developing and implementing a group diversity plan.
  • A driver learnership programme for unemployed women aimed at improving gender diversity in our truck driver workforce.
  • The Women's Development Programme.
  • The Youth Development Programme.

We have also launched a campaign targeted at reducing gender-based violence in the communities in which we operate as well as those in which our people live. Read more in our ESG report online.

Remuneration and performance evaluation


Remuneration and performance evaluation of our employees and executives remain key focal areas, particularly with respect to consistency.

To address this, we:

  • Are implementing a consistent talent and performance management framework across businesses.
  • Have revised our remuneration policy and philosophy and introduced a grading system that promotes internal and external equity.
  • Have devised a set of strategic goals to guide KPIs for short-term incentives (STIs) and reward strategic delivery; these will be consistently applied across the medium term.

Leadership development


Our leaders play a crucial role in driving organisational and cultural change, ensuring that our people engage wholeheartedly with our purpose, values and strategy to deliver effectively against the diverse needs of our stakeholders. We must also ensure that our leaders are representative of the diverse communities in which we operate.

Key priorities include:

  • Developing young talent and creating a pipeline of future successors.
  • Ensuring our leadership team is future fit, purpose led and caring, and that our leaders live our values and adopt our desired leadership behaviours.
  • Supporting our leaders to methodically and sensitively implement culture and organisational change.
  • Setting and meeting key equity targets across the group to more closely align our leadership profile with national demographics.


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