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Corporate Responsibility & Society Update


First Quarter Corporate Responsibility & Society Update

Careers Colleagues

We have donated £52 million to charitable causes in 2014/15 and we look forward to supporting Carers UK for the fifth year running.

  • Healthier baskets: We have launched a number of products to inspire our customers with new ways to eat fruit and vegetables, including a convenient platter containing five different portions of 5-a-day produce.
  • Supplier training: A group of South African growers came to the UK as part of a training and skills programme to explore the value chain from port to store.
  • Energy efficiency: We are trialling an aerofoil technology on our fridge systems to reduce the amount of cool air that escapes from fridge units and reduce the energy used to keep the fridge units cool.
  • Charitable donations: During 2014/15 we donated a total of £52 million to charities and other good causes both nationally and locally.
  • Mentoring: Our second cohort of colleagues are participating in Race for Opportunity’s cross-organisational Mentoring Circles, which promotes diverse representation and progression in the workplace. We have also provided four mentors for the scheme.

Mike Coupe, Chief Executive, said: 

“Back in 2011, we were one of the first FTSE 100 companies to introduce a policy to support our colleagues who juggle their work with caring responsibilities.  It was an important step for us as we estimate that 18,000, or one in nine, of our colleagues are also carers, and we want to make sure these colleagues are fully supported and able to continue working whilst caring.

This is particularly pertinent this year as our partner charity Carers UK celebrates its 50th anniversary and we celebrate five years of working together. To mark these milestones and to show support for this year’s Carers Week (8 to 14 June), many of our stores will work with organisations to host information stands about support services for carers in the local community. A number of colleagues have also been sharing their own experiences of caring on a film which will be launched the same week.

As the population grows and life expectancy continues to increase, it is likely that many people will find themselves carers at some point in their lives.  We’re proud to be leading the way in supporting colleagues through their caring responsibilities.”

Other highlights form the quarter include:

1. Best for food and health

  • Healthier baskets: Our product developers continue to work to inspire our customers with healthy, convenient options. We have extended our prepared salads offer to include a baby leaf green salad, a range of Taste the Difference salads featuring micro-herbs and edible flowers, as well as red kale leaves which can be eaten raw or cooked.
  • 5-a-day: We have also launched a fruit and vegetable platter providing all five 5-a-day portions in one convenient format. Our new My Goodness! tuna and beetroot sandwich also contains one portion of 5-a-day, adding to our My Goodness! chicken and minted pea and My Goodness! smoky ham and piccalilli sandwiches, which all provide a full portion of vegetables or fruit.
  • External collaboration: In March, we invited 14 external stakeholders to an event hosted by Mike Coupe and our non-executive director, Jean Tomlin. We were able to share the progress we have made in reformulating our products to reduce the salt, sugar and fat content as well as discuss how to continue our journey to improve the nutritional profile of our products.

2. Sourcing with integrity

  • Conferences: On 13 March we brought together a total of 400 guests at The Royal Institution in central London for our Research and Development (R&D) conference, and our Ethical conference. This was our second R&D conference which focused on sharing knowledge to address common challenges across the supply chain; while simultaneously the Ethical conference looked at securing sustainable supply chains through transparency and partnerships.
  • Supplier training: Working in partnership with the Department for International Development (DFID) we have funded some of our fresh fruit suppliers to run a training and skills programme for over 160 workers. The training was developed by the Fresh Produce Exporters’ Forum in South Africa. In April, 11 of the participants in the programme were selected to visit the UK and follow the value chain through to our stores, providing a unique opportunity to embed their learning.
  • Agricultural scholars: Seven British farmers have started our first farmers and growers scholarship programme. In partnership with Imperial College London, the next six months offers them a unique opportunity to study, research and analyse soil health.

3. Respect for our environment

  • Energy efficiency: We are trialling an aerofoil technology on our fridge systems to reduce the amount of cool air that escapes from fridge units. The adaptation has been designed and manufactured by Aerofoil Energy Ltd and uses Formula 1 aerodynamics technology developed with Williams’ Advanced Engineering. With less cool air escaping, less energy is used to keep the fridge units cool and less energy is needed to keep the shopping aisles warm.
  • Biodiversity: We have been working with a bee expert to set up, and maintain, a network of Bee Hotels on our store estate and across our supplier network to increase the availability of nesting sites for solitary bees. This spring, we have added 146 Bee Hotels to our stores and depots, taking our total number of Bee Hotels to 258.
  • External Recognition: In April we won the Organisational Behavioural Change category at the Environment and Energy Awards for our internal colleague engagement programme to become the UK’s Greenest Grocer. Our work with Global Action Plan asks colleagues to complete five simple actions as part of their daily routine to help reduce energy use in store by three per cent.

4. Making a positive difference to our community

  • Charitable donations: We are delighted to confirm that during 2014/15 we donated a total of £52 million to charities and other good causes. This included corporate donations to national charities such as Comic Relief and The Royal British Legion, and also funds raised by stores for their Local Charity partners, as well as investment in community programmes such as Active Kids.
  • Carers UK: Stores across the country have made preparations to support the 2015 Carers Week. Arrangements are in place for volunteer groups to come into store to provide information to customers and colleagues throughout the week (8 to 14 June). It is a milestone year for our partnership with Carers UK as the charity celebrates its 50th anniversary and we mark our fifth year of support.
  • Active Kids: This year’s voucher collection finished on 5 May and now over 50,000 schools and clubs are able to redeem their vouchers to order sports and cooking equipment and experiences from our biggest ever catalogue.

5. A great place to work

  • Skills and training: 979 of our colleagues who are responsible for planning, delivering and validating the learning of others, have attended our Bringing Learning To Life workshop to help build their knowledge and insight.
  • Food Colleges: On Wednesday 11 March two members of our Learning and Development team were asked to support an event at the Houses of Parliament organised by Sainsbury’s and Mars UK in partnership with Comic Relief. This was an opportunity for one of our experienced store colleagues, who has been trained at our Bakery College, to demonstrate how we train and develop our colleagues, and to raise awareness of our new Bakery Apprenticeship.
  • Diversity and Inclusion: For the first time, we are supporting the London, Manchester and Brighton Pride events. In addition, ten stores have committed support for ‘Little Pride’ events across the UK, including Leeds and Blackpool. Further information can be found at
  • Mentoring: We are participating in Race for Opportunity’s cross-organisational Mentoring Circles, which promote diverse representation and progression in the workplace. Mentees learn together, coach and support each other, while being led by a senior level mentor. We have also supplied four mentors for the scheme as well as a member of our Operating Board as a guest mentor.



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