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DS Smith

Leading the way in best practice reporting

The Challenge

DS Smith is committed to continually improving their reports in order to show ongoing progress and successfully articulate a solid investor proposition.

In 2016 Annual Report DS Smith wanted to showcase their customer focus and innovative approach to the packaging business. 

The challenge was to demonstrate that value creation is at the heart of everything DS Smith do and to articulate it as a supporting theme throughout the Report. The challenge was also to translate the chosen theme across into the design, tone and content of the Report.

Our Approach

Black Sun identified opportunities for DS Smith to improve the narrative throughout the Annual Report. One of the recommendations was to develop the market environment section of the Report to demonstrate strategic opportunities and challenges and link it to DS Smith’s strategy. Black Sun also made a recommendation to demonstrate that the Group is successfully developing a clear proposition through its technical capability and geographical expansion.

Opportunity was also identified to clearly communicate the understanding of and opportunities around the ongoing changes in the consumer retail environment and its complexity, supporting the case of the relevance of packaging.

Black Sun also recommended to further elaborate on future growth opportunities via pan-European customers and FMCG, acquisitions that substantially expand DS Smith’s position in its key markets, as well as demonstrate and promote packaging for online sales (digital offering).

From the design perspective, Black Sun recommended an 'illustrative infographics approach' for the Annual Report to make it more engaging and visually appealing. 

Our Solution

Black Sun suggested DS Smith introduces a more engaging approach using a Q&A with the Group's Chief Executive to discuss key issues, with an emphasis on core values. The values are woven throughout the report to demonstrate how the Company's business model is underpinned by the values and that they are at the core of the Group's operations.

Market environment section was considerably developed, providing more detail and link to the sustainable value creation, as well as DS Smith's vision and strategy. Business model supported by Company's values was developed to demonstrate how DS Smith creates sustainable value. 'Creating sustainable value, driving returns' proposition was enhanced by developing the two 'hero' spreads on DS Smith's geographic expansion and organic growth by applying illustrative infographics.  

The Outcome

The theme of the report "Creating sustainable value" takes inspiration from DS Smith's latest proposition 'driving growth and returns' and is woven throughout the report, supported by sound case studies. The refreshed business model improved the articulation of the link between DS Smith's operations, strategy and values. At a glance section has been considerably developed to include the key highlights of the year. Spreads on geographic expansion and organic growth help to uncover how DS Smith creates sustainable value and drives returns mostly through the use of feature illustrations. 

Market environment section is more detailed, insightful and engaging, with supportive statistics and graphics. Corporate Governance Report has considerably evolved, opening with Chairman's Q&A, including at a glance spread, diagrams and tables, and introducing more elaborative structure to the Remuneration Report.