Thorntons PLC recognises it has social, ethical and environmental responsibilities arising from its operations and it is committed to the welfare of its colleagues, customers, suppliers and the communities in which it operates.
Food safety is of paramount importance to our manufacturing processes and our single-site production facilities at Thornton Park are regularly independently audited against the exacting requirements of the British Retail Consortium’s Global Standard for Food Safety and were reaccredited in May 2012 with its highest Grade A status. Additionally our Commercial and Retail brand customers regularly audit and monitor our performance against their own high standards.
Our products use over 300 different raw materials, which are sourced by suppliers from all around the world. The majority of our product range is made with natural colouring and flavours and our entire children’s range contains no artificial colours or added preservatives.
We ensure ethical, social and environmental standards are maintained through the supply chain by auditing and visiting over 95% of our suppliers, including those overseas, on a regular basis. Our main concern is food safety but our audits also review ethics, health and safety, employee pay, employment conditions, use of child labour and environmental policies and practices.
Thorntons is a registered member of GreenPalm, a certificated trading programme exclusively endorsed by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil whereby manufacturers offset their use of palm products by paying a producer for an equivalent amount produced sustainably. This gives producers an incentive to work sustainably and allows people whose livelihoods depend on palm oil production to continue making a living.
Thorntons buys all of its cocoa from suppliers that actively support the International Cocoa Initiative and World Cocoa Foundation (“WCF”) programmes to improve the livelihoods of cocoa farm families and promote responsible labour practices. This ensures the ethical sourcing of our cocoa and, in particular, minimises the risk of purchasing cocoa from sources which illegally use abusive or enforced child labour. Thorntons is also itself a member of the WCF which encourages responsible sustainable cocoa farming amongst small family-run farms.
We believe in offering customers choices about what they purchase and our product ranges include organic, Fairtrade, no added sugar and dairy-free products. As our products are luxury gift items, they are not viewed as part of a balanced diet but we do provide advice on consumption and feature detailed nutritional advice on pack labelling, where size permits, so that customers can make an informed choice. Thorntons also provides information on specific ingredients on request, for example whether products are gluten free or contain alcohol.
We undertake regular consumer surveys, which include questions about ethics, and respond to the results of these surveys when developing our products. In addition we obtain feedback from staff serving customers in our stores of their perception of issues that affect customer satisfaction and build them into our plans.
Customer complaints and compliments are handled centrally and we are proud of the process we have established. All complaint investigations are started within 24 hours of receipt and we attempt to resolve each one to the satisfaction of our customers. Our policy is to communicate with our customers in “plain English”. All complaints are recorded so that we can undertake detailed analysis, monitor trends and identify key issues to further improve our performance.
In addition to providing core remuneration benefits including annual incentive schemes, holidays, sick pay, life assurance and pension provision, Thorntons offers a flexible benefits programme, training and development programmes, discounts and participation in Company share scheme offers. Employees and their immediate families also have access to a confidential counselling and legal assistance helpline that operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and the Company has a published procedure for employees to report any concerns confidentially (“whistle blowing policy”).
We regularly survey our employees covering a wide range of issues including Company benefits, working conditions and working relationships with the results of the survey fed back to employees and used to identify and implement improvements.
The Company has a formal process for succession planning to ensure we develop the capability to grow the business in line with our long-term goals. Management performance and development reviews are conducted at least annually. We also regularly monitor our staff turnover rates and use exit interviews to understand reasons why staff leave and ensure improvements are made where appropriate.
Training is available to all staff and we aim to develop both individuals and teams in line with our business needs such that we grow our organisational capability.
In order to ensure continual improvement in health and safety, Thorntons has a three-year safety improvement programme and central to this programme are regular health and safety risk assessments. Incidents and accidents are monitored and reviewed in the workplace so that we can take appropriate action to improve working conditions whilst remaining focused on reducing both the absolute number of accidents and reportable accidents. The lost time accident frequency rating of Thornton Park (a measure of the number of accidents per 100,000 hours worked) increased marginally over the financial year to 2.2 (2011: 2.1) but remains significantly lower than previous financial years (2010: 2.4; 2009: 2.6).
A Production Health and Safety Committee meets regularly to discuss unresolved health and safety matters and reviews statistics on accidents and lost time accidents.
Independent external health and safety audits are conducted at least once every two years in both manufacturing and Own Stores and improvements are made in line with any recommendations.
Whilst always aiming to minimise accidents occurring in the workplace, we also work with our insurers and have improved our occupational health service to employees by providing post-accident access to private medical services, which can assist with the rehabilitation process. We also use an external occupational health company and a doctor to provide us with health management services. Free eye tests and spectacles, where required, are provided for all VDU operatives. We also have a wellbeing policy to help deal with stress at work.
Recognising its major impacts on the environment, Thorntons is committed to improving energy efficiency, reducing utility usage and reducing ongoing costs throughout every stage of the chocolate-making process at its manufacturing operations in the heart of the UK.
Energy consumption per tonne of product produced has reduced by a total of circa 7% since 2007 (4,486 kWh/tonne of product down to 4,171 kWh/tonne of product). We have also consistently beaten the reduction targets set by the Food and Drink Federation (“FDF”) since being a member.
Various initiatives have helped us continue to reduce energy consumption during the last year including a comprehensive programme to reduce compressed air and steam leaks across site.
As a business Thorntons is also firmly committed to reducing its water consumption and to demonstrate this in 2011 signed up to the Federation House Commitment (“FHC”), working to reduce overall water usage across the Food and Drink sector by 20% by the year 2020. Working alongside the FHC during the last year we closely monitored our water usage via an extensive utilities sub-metering system, identifying and making good two significant water leaks, equating to an overall reduction in water consumption of over 35,000 m3 per year. We are also investigating opportunities to reduce our effluent levels.
Regarding waste management, we believe that a partnership approach is the key to driving zero waste to landfill. Following successful Refuse Derived Fuel (or “energy from waste”) trials, Thorntons’ manufacturing site has become a Zero to Landfill business. This means since January 2012 less than 1% of its waste has been sent to landfill. The overall recycling rate for the financial year to June 2012 was a record 84%.
This sustainable approach to waste management has been achieved with the support of a successful drive to further segregate waste by staff from all around the business, using dedicated teams, and working closely with an integrated waste management company. We also successfully introduced dry mixed recycling in order to further increase our recycling rates, and increased the amount of cardboard baled on site by over 250 tonnes per year.
Thorntons is fully committed to becoming a more sustainable, low carbon business for the future. All our Own Stores are fitted with energy efficient fittings and lamps and we will be extending our energy efficient lighting programme in the current financial year by replacing a further 1,568 lights in our production and packing factories with energy saving T5 fluorescent lighting, which will save in excess of 500 tonnes of CO2 a year.
We have plans to upgrade our Building Management System in order to run our high energy using plant equipment more efficiently and save approximately 625,000 kWh a year. We are also finalising an order for a Combined Heat and Power plant which, once operational from around June 2013, will not only generate almost all of our manufacturing site electricity needs, but will also provide heat to generate steam, hot water and cooling for the production facilities – making every part of the chocolatemaking process more sustainable and saving 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year in the process.
We continue to monitor the overall environmental impact of using more recycled materials in all components. Packaging is also a key issue for the Company and we have developed environmental policies for the procurement of packaging and continue to progress towards sourcing Forest Stewardship Council approved materials for our cartons.
We continue to find ways to reduce packaging (as measured by the percentage of cardboard packaging to product) across our products range.
The distribution and warehousing functions of the business are outsourced to DHL, a leading expert in the distribution field. DHL is committed to improving its CO2 efficiency and minimising its environmental impact in line with its “GoGreen” approach towards environmental protection. Where practicable vehicles returning to our production site back-haul raw materials and packaging from suppliers, as well as cardboard for recycling from our Own Stores.
The seasonal nature of our business means that we employ a large number of temporary staff from the local community at both our production site and nationally in our Own Stores; we have a policy to recruit staff locally in order to provide a benefit to the local community. We have subsequently been able to offer a number of temporary staff permanent positions.
Many of our ingredients are sourced from local, UK-based suppliers and this factor is considered in our purchasing decisions for both ingredients and packaging of goods.
Thorntons seeks to build new relationships through local school activities and work placement schemes.
A staff Charity Committee is actively involved in raising money for children’s charities. Last year staff raised in the region of £48,000 for the NSPCC with the Charity Committee co-ordinating a range of initiatives. These included sponsorship from suppliers and staff for runners in the London Marathon, arranging collection points in stores and running a Charity Football Day for the Company’s suppliers at Derby County’s football ground, together with a number of Centenary celebration events. Our Own Stores are also actively encouraged to support local charitable activities.
It is the policy of the Board not to make any political donations.
Further information on Thorntons’ approach to corporate social responsibility can be found on the Company’s web site: www.thorntons.co.uk.