UK grocers commit to responsible recruitment in supply chain tool

Supermarkets in the UK have joined forces to strive for more responsible recruitment across their supply chains.

Aldi, Co-op, Marks & Spencer (M&S), Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose have become founding sponsors of a new initiative in response to recruitment and labour provision having been identified as one of the greatest worker exploitation risks in supply chains.

The formation of the (RRT), a one-stop, practical capacity building tool supporting businesses to embed responsible recruitment strategy in their supply chains, creates a new code related to employment practices.

Mapped out as part of the plans are relevant global social compliance codes to define 27 responsible recruitment labour standards covering all stages and elements of labour sourcing and supply.

The founding sponsors are enabling their suppliers to utilise the RRT to build capability, self-assess and report progress across all areas of responsible recruitment.

Benefits for suppliers include: free places on a range of face-to-face and online responsible recruitment workshops; free registration and discounted optional RRT subscriptions enabling full access to the guidance, resources and self-assessment and reporting tool; and discounts on more in-depth responsible recruitment training.

In a joint statement, the founding sponsor supermarkets said: “As leading supermarkets in the UK, we are pleased to announce this collaboration to support our supply chain to work towards meeting consistent high standards of responsible recruitment.

“We have joined together as founding sponsors of the RRT to reach as many suppliers as possible to ensure they have the expert guidance and support needed to meet those standards.”

Waitrose and M&S working together comes in the week that it was revealed the latter will be replacing the former as online grocer Ocado’s key grocery supplier in the UK. M&S will invest £750 million to create a joint venture with the tech-led supermarket, thus fast-tracking the development of its own online food business.

Waitrose put a brave face on the break-up of its Ocado partnership, with an official statement saying the collaboration was coming to an end in September 2020 “following careful review of the relationship its commercial arrangement”.

Rob Collins, managing director of Waitrose, remarked: “We have strengthened our own online business significantly and said last summer that we will double within five years.  

“Today’s announcement will be a major part of achieving this and in future and our shops will be the exclusive places in the UK to buy Waitrose & Partners products.”

He added: “ sales are growing at 14.2%, well ahead of the market, and customer satisfaction scores for both fulfilment and the website are showing sustained and significant increases too.

“We are planning a second fulfilment centre to support our growing volumes in London and will be able to welcome thousands more online customers to Waitrose from the end of this year. We have valued our relationship with Ocado and thank them for the last 19 years.”