Supply chain and product

Sustainable behaviour in our supply chain and product design gives us a competitive advantage and mitigates two of our principal risks: interruption to continuity of supply and product relevance.

For more details of what we’ve done in 2020, together with our commitments and targets for the future, see our full sustainability report here

Sustainable sourcing and manufacturing

Our sourcing strategy helps us to build sustainable partnerships with our suppliers. During lockdown we committed to supporting our customers by sticking to our in-stock business model. This gave us a commercial advantage, but it also had a significant positive impact on our suppliers. By maintaining the inbound flow of products, we kept the production lines and supply chains of several factories flowing, both in the UK and abroad, when they were facing big reductions in demand from their other customers.

We have invested in our own UK manufacturing so that we can make more of the new product which we previously bought in from Europe. This supports local communities and staff where our factories are based, and also brings the environmental benefits of shorter supply chains.

In 2020, 100% of the chipboard and MDF used in our manufacturing processes was from FSC® and PEFC™ certified sources.

Responsible purchasing

Each potential supplier undergoes a thorough risk assessment and must provide evidence of satisfactory working methods. Suppliers are issued with our code of conduct and are required to share sourcing information.

All our buyers and compliance team have taken and passed the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply’s Ethical Procurement & Supply training, and we have a rolling programme of refresher training on Modern Slavery and Anti-Bribery. We’ve supplemented this in 2020 with a bespoke online course on FSC® and PEFC™ chain of custody standards and timber regulations. We are also members of the Timber Trade Federation and are recognised by them as a “Responsible Purchaser”, which means that we have third-party assurance on our timber purchasing due diligence systems.

Sustainable transport fleet

Our transport fleet drove around 15 million miles in 2020 so we need it to be both efficient and safe. All our trucks meet the latest emissions standards, and we’ve fitted further refinements to the standard build to increase efficiency and reduce emissions even further.

We also invest in safety and energy-efficiency training for our drivers. We combine this with the latest in-cab telemetry and a system of daily debriefs where driver behaviour is assessed against energy-efficiency and safety targets. We reward drivers who reach the highest standards and we work with any drivers who need help to improve. In recent years, we have invested in training our own new drivers via a driving apprenticeship scheme

Depot waste backhaul

One of the new projects that helped us cut our UK depot waste percentage to landfill by 30% in 2020 was developing a ‘backhaul’ waste recovery system using our own distribution fleet.

When we deliver stock to depots, we collect waste from them. Depending on the type of waste material, we then either return it to our factory or warehouse sites where we already have sophisticated reprocessing facilities, or we take it directly to wood processing facilities across the country. This means that a large volume of this waste is recycled into chipboard and ultimately back into our new cabinet production.

In the first part-year of this project, we have made over 8,000 waste backhaul collections and dealt with 2,000 tonnes of waste.