Corporate Social Responsibility
Purpose and Values
Countrywide is committed to being a responsible company ensuring our business operations are environmentally, socially and ethically sustainable for the long term. In doing so we aim to demonstrate clear leadership by supporting our customers and our staff, and by remaining focussed on dealing with the key issues that matter to the rural communities we live and work in.
Ethical sales trading
- Competition:– we embrace free and fair competition and whilst competing strongly will do so honestly by complying with all local competition laws.
- Anti-Bribery and Corruption Policy:– The business has recently codified a robust Anti-Bribery policy to be communicated through the business and periodically reviewed by the Board.
- We have changed our animal feed bag packaging to a preform heat and seal which reduces the total amount of plastic we use in these bags. We estimate a reduction in plastic consumption of approximately 18% which equates to 288,000 less plastic bags/year.
- Fertiliser, Crop Protection and Seed Sales:- Fully supported by our team of qualified technical specialists to ensure appropriate product usage and application rates. Product sales are supported by a full nutrient management planning service to ensure compliant and effective use of farm yard manure alongside purchased inputs. This year Crop Protection warehousing and distribution has been centralised to our Defford Distribution Centre to improve distribution efficiency and reduce stock losses.
- Helping our customers become greener:- We have invested significantly in growing and developing our renewable energy business during the year and through providing advice and products we help our customers save energy and generate renewable electricity and heat. We regard this new business service as being of importance to our customers and plan to make further investment in this sector.
- Last financial year we recycled over 100 tonnes of cardboard and 20 tonnes of plastic from our stores back into our central hub. This is then sorted and bailed ready for resale into the commercial recycle market. Our new Head Office is geared to recycle all paper, card, plastics, and cans through weekly collections by a local firm.
- Two of our larger Countrywide Stores at Melksham and Crewkerne are now heated by Biomass boilers which burn wood pellets. Thornbury store also has a wood pellet stove which provides supplementary heating and hot water to the offices above the store. This has two main benefits:
- Our total CO2 equivalent emissions are reduced by 111 tonnes per year as a result of replacing fossil fuels with sustainable wood pellets.
- Demonstrates and showcases the boilers to customers who can now buy similar products and have them installed by Countrywide.
- We sell wood pellets for our customers to burn in their biomass boilers, in bags for customer collection or via bulk delivery. The wood used for the production of our pellets is from UK woodland managed under the FSC guidelines and sourced within 70 miles of the production plant at Andover. The production plant is fully accredited under the European standard EN Plus.
- Local sourcing: Countrywide is committed to British manufacturers and is working to increase the number of its suppliers producing products in the UK, we currently work with 1 major food group. Cotswold Fayre who produces a range of ambient products from over 150 British suppliers. We have over 30 suppliers, making up 5% of our current supplier base, who can be accredited as supplying truly locally sourced or manufactured products. Our main local suppliers are Batemans (whose produce are manufactured and fabricated in a factory located in Cheddleton, North Staffordshire), who achieved sales over £1M, Certainly Wood (whose fire wood is locally sourced from sustainable British woodland), who achieved sales in excess of £450k in the last financial year, Golden Acres who achieved sales of £1M, Roger Skinner who achieved £750k sales and Pure Pastures, who achieved sales of £220k in the same period.
- Our importing policy ensures we source in a legal, ethical and responsible manner. We seek to partner suppliers who share in these commitments and all factories used by our suppliers are fully accredited passing ethical and technical audits carried out on our behalf by Intertek. The majority of supplier factories are Sedex registered meeting European Ethical standards providing clear information regarding hours of work, permitted holiday , hourly pay , pension schemes and working environment and we plan to have all of them registered by the end of 2012. We personally carry out initial factory visits on all suppliers before the commencement of a trading relationship. Our agent monitors our policy during regular site visits.
- Last financial year we sold 570 bags for life. The bags are of canvas type made out of cotton, a completely natural substance and the factory producing the bag is part of “Ethical Junction” an organisation that commits to not using slave labour or children in the production process.
- All plastic carriers are bio-degradable and sourced through BSP, a company which prides its ethical conscience and is a pioneer in eco products, holding ISO9001 and ISO14001.
- Countrywide participates in the Welsh Changeover of Carrier Bags Scheme. In Welsh stores 3,417 bags were sold for 5p each and the £170.84 raised was donated to the company’s nominated charity (Riding for the Disabled).
- We participate in the Environment Agencies Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment scheme (WEEE) and also the government Battery Compliance Scheme (BCS). These agencies take back the above products from our customers and recycle them.
- Pallets are recycled by Giffords, a pioneering environmentally friendly recycling company, which recycles them into a basic bedding product. 40,000 bales of this product were sold in store last year.
Becoming more fuel efficient
- Last financial year 75% of the ingredients used in the manufacture of our animal feeds were UK sourced thus ensuring each tonne of raw material travels the shortest distance possible. Our on-going manufacturing and distribution relationship with BOCMP allows us to select a feed manufacturing point closest to our customers so our delivery vehicles travel the shortest distance possible. We estimate the latter generates an annual saving of 2million miles compared to operating our own mills.
- Our vehicle change policy has ensured we keep a modern and efficient fleet on the road, reducing emissions and ensuring least cost. State of the art vehicle transmissions systems that decide the most efficient time to change up or down gear. Through regular driver training, we are maximising the benefits available, including driving and breaking techniques which help improve fuel efficiency.
- Through a regular industry forum we have a constant eye on opportunities to improve volume or weight per load. A recent example of this would be the introduction of double-deck trailers for use with voluminous loads, potentially doubling the pallet carrying capacity on any single run. On our bulk tipper fleet, changing wheels from steel to aluminium will improve carrying capacity by as much as ½ a tonne and with the use of smooth sided trailers we are able to reduce fuel consumption by as much as ½ mpg.
- The introduction of real-time vehicle tracking systems has provided the opportunity to analyse what routes we take and look to see how we can best reduce the driven mile, providing real savings both in cost and emissions.
- Last financial year the first electric car was added to the vehicle fleet. This Nissan Leaf will be used for employee travel and customer visits. It will run entirely on electricity most of which will come from renewable power generated by solar and wind systems at an employee's farm. Further electric vehicle additions to the fleet are planned for the future.
Using less electricity
- Our state of the art Head Office at Evesham boasts motion light sensors which automatically switch on when you enter a room and are switched off 20 minutes later if they detect no further movement. The combined effect of only activating when required together with self-extinguishing when not, is estimated to save 30-40% of what would have been our typical electricity to power these lights.
- Nine of our stores have been retro fitted with low energy lighting which will reduce running costs by up to 50% compared to the standard high frequency lighting.
- Our newest store in Towcester is fully LED lit on the retail sales floor.
- We operate a “black water” to “white water” purification system at our newest store.
- We have introduced a standard for space heating systems that ensure they have NOx (nitrogen oxides) emissions of less than 100mg/kWh.
- We ensure the air quality of our stores during fit out works by monitoring and measuring the Volatile Organic Content (VOC) of all materials used to ensure they meet required levels.
- In this financial year we intend to fit solar panels to 3 stores to provide renewable electricity. The panels, with an average size of 50kW on each store, will provide electricity for the lighting and equipment used within the store on a daily basis. We hope to reduce each store’s import consumption of electricity by at least 30%. The roll out of solar panels is likely to save a further 60 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.
Health and Safety
Countrywide is committed to take reasonably practicable measures to ensure the health and safety of all employees, customers, visitors and all other persons who are likely to be affected by its operations
- The overall responsibility for health and safety matters rests with the Countrywide CEO
- All activities of the company will be conducted in accordance with relevant statutory requirements. It is the responsibility of all Directors, managers and employees to actively pursue this policy.
- High levels of compliance and performance are being targeted through improved training, monitoring and auditing of the operational processes.
- RIDDOR accidents are reported monthly to the Countrywide board of Directors. Our target is to sustain a year on year reduction. There were 9 RIDDOR accidents last financial year which was in line with strategy targets.
Supporting Local communities and Charity work
Riding for the disabled has been Countrywide’s adopted charity for the past 3 years and during this time the Company and its employees have raised over £130,000. There are over 500 RDA Groups and 18,000 volunteers across the UK actively improving the lives of people with disabilities through the provision of horse riding, carriage driving, vaulting and, new this year, show jumping. http://www.riding-for-disabled.org.uk/