Being a responsible buyer

We work hard to be a responsible business and through our responsible procurement programme, we are driving high standards in the products and services we buy.

From parts to keep homes running smoothly or products to power businesses across the world, we spent nearly £4 billion on goods and services in 2017. As a responsible business with a responsible procurement programme, we are using our purchasing power to embed high social, ethical and environmental standards across our supply chain. This is done through a number of initiatives, such as embedding responsible business clauses in supplier contracts or conducting on-the-ground audits.

We assess strategic and higher risk suppliers to ensure they comply with all the appropriate local laws and respect recognised human and labour rights. In 2017, we assessed 138 suppliers which resulted in an average supplier sustainability risk score of 56 (low risk)*.  Our score is higher than the multi-industry average of 44 (medium risk), which reflects that the majority of our suppliers are based in lower risk countries such as the UK, Europe and North America.

In 2017, eight of our suppliers were ranked as higher risk. If a supplier receives a high or medium risk rating, we take swift action to ensure better understanding of how they run their business and the steps we can take to improve standards. This can take the form of a number of actions which include creating a corrective action plans, conducting on-the- ground site inspections or terminating the contract if they continue to fall short of our expectations. Site inspections are particularly importantly because they enable us to take a deeper dive into higher risk suppliers. In 2017, we conducted 18 site inspections and in 2018, we aim to carry out a similar number of site inspections for manufacturers of technology products and garments.

To ensure our people have the capabilities needed to uphold high standards in our supply chain, all of our procurement managers undergo training on responsible procurement which includes modern slavery. Over 160 people have undertaken detailed training on these issues in 2017.  

We also want to ensure our suppliers are treated fairly. We voluntarily signed up to the Prompt Payment Code which is accredited by the Institute of Credit Management and we endeavor to ensure our suppliers are paid within our 60-day standard payment terms. This is particularly beneficial to small businesses as being paid on time, facilitates their ability to self-invest and grow.

To drive our responsible procurement practices forward and ensure they are best practice, we joined the Responsible Sourcing Council (RSC) in 2017. The Council provides invaluable insight by bringing together different industries and stakeholders from across the world, to collaborate on enhancing supply chain transparency, driving strong supply chain risk management and embedding robust sustainability strategies. 

Find out more about our approach to being a responsible business or view Our Code.


*A risk closer to 100 is lower risk.