What are cookies?

A cookie is a piece of text that is stored on your computer by your web browser. We use cookies to monitor how people use our site. This helps us to understand how our customers and potential customers use our websites so we can develop and improve their design and layout and provide more relevant content.

How they work

When you visit a site that uses cookies for the first time, a cookie is downloaded onto your computer. The next time you visit that site, your computer checks to see if it has a cookie that is relevant and if so sends the information contained in that cookie back to the site. Cookies may come from the website itself, advertising banners or other graphics that make up a webpage.

How we use cookies

The cookies used on our websites are classified based on the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) guide for cookie categories. There are four broad groups of cookies.

  • Cookies which are essential so you can move around and use our websites - Strictly necessary.

  • Cookies which collect information about how you use our websites - Performance.

  • Cookies which remember choices you make and allow us to provide enhanced features - Functional.

  • Cookies which are placed by third party advertising networks and collect information about your browsing habits - Targeting.

The benefits of cookies

By using cookies, a site 'knows' that you have been there before, and in some cases, tailors web content to take account of this based on what you have looked at or done previously. For instance, it can be helpful to vary content according to whether this is your first ever visit to a site - or if you are a regular website visitor. Some cookies are more sophisticated. They might record how long you spend on each page on a site, what links you click, even your preferences for page layouts and colour schemes. They can also be used to store data on what is in your 'shopping cart', adding items as you click.

Control your cookies

Almost all web browsers allow you the option to block cookies. That means you can block all cookies or you can choose which ones to accept.
This can however make browsing difficult - some sites do not work or work less well with cookies turned off. For instructions on how to manage your cookie privacy setting in your browser see this guide wikiHow - How to Clear Your Browser's Cookies.