Focus updates

Focus 0: Our dedicated Next Code of Practice Team

Our dedicated and specialist global Code of Practice (COP) team work directly with both our new and existing suppliers and their factories to ensure they understand the requirements of our Auditing Standards, These standards have been developed to support our overarching Principle Standards and provide detailed information to help a supplier fulfil its obligations to its workers and to Next. Our commitment is to ensure new suppliers understand our requirements before they commence working with us, and that existing suppliers comply within all their production locations.

We have four regional COP managers located in our key sourcing locations: Hong Kong covering South East Asia; New Delhi covering the Indian subcontinent; Istanbul covering Turkey and at our Head Office in the UK covering Europe and the rest of the world. Each regional manager has their own dedicated COP team whose role is to build relationships with our suppliers’ factories through direct training and support to achieve compliance with our standards as well as undertaking monitoring through auditing. Our team based in the UK works closely with our Product teams to provide supplier performance updates, raise potential issues and deliver regular training sessions internally to our teams and externally to our suppliers.

Having our own global team allows us to:

  • Provide training directly to our global COP team to ensure they have the skills required to meet and respond to the dynamics of our global supply chain
  • Advise, train and support suppliers to achieve the Next standards before production contracts are assigned and prior to an audit being carried out
  • Establish direct relationships with suppliers, to develop trust and encourage an on-going honest and open dialogue
  • Address any issues of factory non-conformity identified during the audit process and work directly with the factory management to help them develop improvements to achieve long term change
  • Understand the issues in the local context for suppliers
  • Undertake joint audits and management reviews to ensure consistency of approach and procedures are maintained

Our dedicated Next Code of Practice Team

Focus 1: Communication

Supplier Communication

Next recognises the importance of working closely with our product suppliers and their factories to help them develop their business to be compliant with our requirements, understand the value and benefits of working ethically and benefit from the implementation of sustainable improvements.

We communicate with our suppliers in a number of ways:

  • All contracted product suppliers are provided with access to our Supplier Extranet which provides access to all the information a supplier needs to work with Next
  • Meetings with the senior management of our largest suppliers and their factories in their country of operation to underline the importance of the partnership we share; discuss and reinforce the responsibility for compliance to our ethical standards and plan for improvements and offer our support to help make their own systems more effective
  • We held eight supplier presentations during 2015 in six of our main sourcing locations including the UK, focusing on the importance of improving human rights and working conditions for all their workers. Over 1,000 supplier and factory delegates attended
  • We have launched a dedicated supplier website for new suppliers to Next, to help them understand our ethical standards, procedures and requirements whist they are starting to work with our Product teams. This provides a comprehensive overview in English and other key languages until they have access to our Extranet

Internal Communication

Internal Communication

Our Product teams are vital to the success and effectiveness of managing the ethical standards within our suppliers. Our ethical trading programme is an integral part of Buying School which is attended by all new product team members when they join Next, and continues to raise awareness and understanding of ethical issues, current risks and to reinforce the impact buying decisions can have on suppliers.

Supplier and factory performance data is used by our Product teams to aid the product selection process and determine where business is placed. Individual factory non-compliance issues are managed and remediated through joint meetings held with the Product team and supplier, and this collaborative approach has resulted in the delivery of positive progress and building closer relationships with suppliers to resolve issues.

Focus 2: The Importance of Partnership and Collaboration

Next understands the importance and value of working with others to pursue solutions for some of the more complex and systemic problems found within global supply chains. We recognise we are unable to solve these issues alone and over the last three years have real first-hand experience of delivering benefits by working in partnership with other organisations.

During 2015, we continued our collaborative work to improve the human rights of workers in our supply chain. We recognise the risks to vulnerable groups are increasing in many of the countries we source from. The displacement of people seeking refuge from conflict and looking for work is increasing with refugees and migrant workers entering our supply chain. We have been working to manage the risks associated with this group of workers by providing support and, where possible, offering remediation. By maintaining good direct relationships and undertaking collaborative work through sharing information and resources with other retailers, brands, trade unions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) we can work together in partnership to deliver real benefits to workers in our supply chains.

Examples of our collaborative work:

Ethical Trading Initiative

The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) is an alliance of companies, NGOs and trade unions, working collaboratively to ensure working conditions and rights of workers producing for the UK market meet or exceed international labour standards. Next continues to be a committed member of the ETI, since we joined 12 years ago, and this is the principle ethical community within which we regularly engage with multiple stakeholders through meetings and working groups focusing on specific issues.

Putting Principles into Practice

Over the last two years we have recognised the need to work with specialist partners who are able to support Next with additional expertise to understand the requirements to manage emerging legislation such as human rights and modern slavery and how they impact our business. Shift (a not for profit organisation based in Boston, Massachusetts) invited Next to join their business learning programme in 2014. Shift has been instrumental, along with Mazars, in the development of the United Nations Guiding Principles Reporting Framework, the first comprehensive guide for companies to report on human rights issues. Their support has provided valuable insight and helped to increase our awareness and understanding of the issues which they delivered through a number of sessions such as training workshops for our Code of Practice team and attendance by senior management at their bi-annual Business Learning Programme. We intend to incorporate the elements of the Reporting Framework into our future reporting over time. With their support we have started to communicate our requirements to our suppliers and formalise our human rights approach across our business. Shift is supporting the development of our human rights and modern slavery policy which will be launched in the coming months.

Accord

The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety is an important contribution to the transformation of the textile industry in Bangladesh. Next was one of the initial signatories, and today some 200 brands have now signed the Accord which performs independent factory inspections focusing on three key areas: fi re risks, electrical installations and structural conditions of buildings. In addition, an integral component of the Accord is a comprehensive worker participation programme involving both workers and factory owners. We are maintaining our commitment to support the Accord management to enable it to achieve its goals. Through the Accord, significant improvements in factory safety standards have been achieved, however work is on-going and the current programme will continue for another two years with discussions starting about its longer term future and the potential to replicate the model for other collaborative programmes in other countries. All factories which manufacture for Next in Bangladesh are listed on the Accord website and have undergone inspection.

The UN Refugee Avency

The Syrian refugee crisis impacts many countries. Turkey, one of our major sourcing markets, is receiving many refugees who are escaping conflict. Many of the refugees are women travelling with dependent children who are seeking safety and looking for employment. Next are supporting the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) by raising awareness with our suppliers in Turkey to encourage their employment whilst ensuring exploitation of these vulnerable families is not taking place.

International Labour Organization

Next is a member of the Better Work programme initially in Cambodia, with the longer term intention to extend its membership into further countries where programmes are active. Better Work is a partnership programme between the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Better Work has activities in nine countries worldwide and many global brands are now members.

ACT

During 2015, Next continued to contribute to the ACT (Action Collaboration and Transformation) programme, whose aims are to improve workers’ conditions, support processes to establish fair wages and assure mature industrial relations in the garment industry. Within the ACT programme, Next is a signatory working alongside 18 partner Brands and IndustriAll (Trade Union), to deliver sustainable improvements in working conditions and training in factories supplying our products

Inno Community Development Organisation

In China, Next has continued to partner with and support INNO, an NGO, who develop and manage worker helplines and provide help and advice for workers in our supply chain to be able to report workplace concerns. In 2015, over 100 calls were received from workers typically looking for advice relating to social issues.

Labour Education and Service Network

We have also continued to support LESN, an NGO in China, with their training and support where cases of underage workers are identified. Their focus is to work to prevent occurrence in the first place through training, as well as providing support to the identified underage worker. This support serves to facilitate the necessary remediation by working with the supplier to ensure there is sufficient support for the child and their family, a return to education for the child and ongoing monitoring to ensure the child remains within education.

Focus 3: Supporting Homeworkers in India and Sri Lanka

During 2015 Next continued to develop and extend our programme to support and protect vulnerable homeworkers both in New Delhi, India and also within Sri Lanka. Our aim is to improve transparency within this part of the supply chain by working with the main production factory to ensure any operations which are outsourced and completed by homeworkers are declared to Next, and importantly whether the homeworkers are employed by the main factory or by a third party agent.

Focusing on protection, improvement and investment, the objective is to maximise the earning potential, health and lifestyle of the homeworkers and their families by:

  • Protecting homeworkers earnings: Next has developed and installed a simple process which allows homeworkers to reconcile the work they have undertaken and the wages they receive through passbooks and dockets to assist in preventing the issue of them being underpaid for the work they complete
  • Providing identity: Through a simple photographic identity card, the homeworker is able to gain a qualification as an Artisan. This helps employers to understand their ability and skills and also provides the homeworker with more freedom of choice in terms of employment as they become registered
  • Community support: Within India, Next continues to fund the crèche facility within the Homeworkers community we helped to establish. This is now managed by our partner NGO AIDA in the Molarband region outside New Delhi

    Supporting Homeworkers in India and Sri Lanka

    • The crèche aims to support the homeworkers and their families to be able to improve their lives through education and direct access to healthcare
    • The crèche opened in 2013 and currently accommodates 50 children per day, both pre-school and school age. It aims to provide a clean, safe environment with constructed play and learning provided by 1 trained teacher and 3 caregivers and provides two nutritious meals each day per child

In addition the facility offers access to:

  • A new computer training facility: To provide basic IT skills to children and young people in the community to support their education, currently we are able to provide part time training for to up to 80 young people
  • Regular doctors clinics: with a doctor and nurses providing consultations and medication; female health education for well-being and family planning; eye tests to help homeworkers remedy defective vision with the provision of spectacles being arranged where needed. Regular nutritional clinics are offered to provide advice and education about preparing healthy food to improve the health and wellbeing of homeworkers and their families

Supporting Homeworkers in India and Sri Lanka Supporting Homeworkers in India and Sri Lanka

Focus 4: Product Safety

It is essential all our products are safe to use by our customers, have been made in a safe environment and are fit for purpose. Our product safety standards have been developed to comply with relevant consumer legislation and compliance requirements. Technologists in our Product teams work closely with our suppliers to provide expert guidance so the right materials are chosen to manufacture high quality, durable products in factories with robust product safety processes. Our technologists from Head Office and our global sourcing offices visit our suppliers to monitor production. Products are inspected upon receipt into our UK warehouse to ensure it meets our specifications.

Before production commences our technologists assess the product for the level of risk it may present, ensuring it is tested for both safety and performance both before and during production. We are committed to ensuring that children are safe when wearing or using our products. Our Childrenswear division focuses on safety throughout all stages of development and production; starting at the design stage with a risk assessment to ensure all products achieve the standards we require. Our safety standards are based as a minimum, on the highest legal European standards.

The safety of children is an issue that is of highest importance for many retailers and suppliers. Through BSI (British Standards Institute) and CEN (European Committee for Standardisation), NEXT is an active participant in the Working Groups responsible for developing standards to ensure the safety of children’s clothing.

If we are not satisfied with a product’s safety, or if a product fails to comply with legal requirements NEXT has an established procedure in place to recall a product as the safety of our customers is our priority. In 2015, we recalled 16 Next brand products for safety reasons.

During the year we established the Product Safety Forum which is chaired by our Business Risk Manager and attended by Managers from Legal, Customer Services, Insurance, Health and Safety and Technical who meet regularly and whose role is to:

- Review safety issues, the actions taken and learning’s gained
- Review our product safety procedures to identify areas for improvement
- Provide regular reporting and communication internally and to senior management

Our in-house product testing laboratory, based at Head Office, is a key asset to the business and is used to undertake testing for our Product teams to support their assessment decisions and product reviews to ensure products perform to our requirements.

Product Safety

Our testing focus areas are:

  • Development fabrics – to assess suitability
  • Production fabrics – to assess performance
  • Customer care audits and product durability – to assess performance
  • Safety and due diligence

Focus 5: Legislation Compliance - Restricting Hazardous Chemicals

Many products contain chemicals in one form or another. Whilst the majority of chemicals are harmless, it remains a key focus area that our products do not contain chemicals which could be harmful for our customers, the workers who make our products or the environment not just in the countries where our products are made, but also those counties where they are sold and eventually disposed of when the customer no longer wants them. Next have strict Restricted Substance Standards (RSS) which state the limits for harmful chemicals used in or during the manufacture of our products. The RSS forms part of our technical requirements for the products manufactured by our suppliers.

We have developed our RSS requirements from EU legal standards; recommendations by industry experts; pressure group focus and customer feedback.

Our RSS have been updated to be in line with any changes that have come into force from new legislation during 2015. They are also continually developed in anticipation of emerging legislation and other information concerning new potentially hazardous chemicals, not yet captured by legislation. Our suppliers are kept up to date with these developments, so changes in legislation can be implemented quickly.

We apply a precautionary approach to chemical management, which means we work to restrict chemicals where possible, even if there is still some uncertainty about whether a chemical is hazardous or not. With this approach we often exceed legislative requirements, or restrict chemicals ahead of legislation coming into force. We keep ourselves updated with the latest information about hazardous chemicals and continually review information from pressure groups, authorities and scientific reports. We work with our suppliers offering advice, support and training to ensure the chemical substances used meet our required criteria.

During 2015 we launched Next’s Chemical Management Standards programme aimed at suppliers further back in our supply chain e.g. fabric mills and wet processing such as dyeing, printing, finishing, laundering of textiles and tanning and dyeing of leather. The issue of pollution from global manufacturing sites in developing industrial nations is one Next takes seriously, and through this programme our aim is to help educate suppliers to be able to reduce and eliminate the discharge of hazardous chemicals from their production processes into the environment wherever possible.

The main principles of our Chemical Management Standards are:

  • Clean Chemistry: the use of cleaner chemicals which do not contain hazardous substances will ultimately lead to cleaner production, cleaner effluent and cleaner emissions
  • Transparency: encourage chemical manufacturers to provide full disclosure of all ‘hidden’ hazardous substances in formulations (mixtures of chemicals) and individual chemicals being used on Next products
  • Traceability: encourage manufacturers to maintain a chemical inventory and full records of all chemicals used on products
  • Trust: with the principles of clean chemistry, transparency and traceability in place trust is built with suppliers within our supply chain

Legislation Compliance - Restricting Hazardous Chemicals

During 2016 we will continue to reinforce the effectiveness of the Chemical Management Standards by providing supplier training and seminar sessions to complement the training and awareness raising already undertaken by our Product Technologists. We are currently developing an on-line training programme which will be offered to our product suppliers; fabric mills; printers; laundries etc to further support and complement our training offer, and will be able to provide an update on this in future reports.

As part of our ongoing due diligence programme and commitment to ensure the products we sell meet our standards, each month we select product for testing based on a clear risk assessment process in accordance with the requirements of our RSS, and test via two independant specialist laboratories. Our suppliers are advised of the outcome of the audit testing and, if the products are found to fail our requirements, they are withdrawn from sale and may be recalled from customers.

REACH update

We continue to monitor REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) legislation closely. It seeks to reduce the exposure of humans and the environment to harmful chemicals and substances across all industries within the European Union (EU).

In line with the REACH legislation, we have a programme in place to register all relevant chemicals Next imports into the EU in finished products where we import over 1 tonne per year per chemical, before the REACH deadline of 2018.

As part of the REACH legislation, customers are able to check if a product contains a substance of very high concern (SVHC) above the 0.1% threshold. If we receive such a request, we are required to respond to the customer within 45 days. During 2015, we did not receive any requests from customers regarding SVHCs.

Smoke Background

Focus 6: Responsible Sourcing of Raw Materials

We source products from over 40 countries around the world, and those products are made from a large variety of raw materials. Our aim is to ensure these materials are sourced and produced sustainably and responsibly. Making improvements in supply chain traceability and transparency is a key focus for Next and we are working closely with our suppliers in diff erent parts of the supply chain to understand where the raw materials come from and to identify where we can support improvements in the supply chain. We have started to map our supply chain back to raw material and plan to complete this by 2020.

Traceability: Our products are sourced from many hundreds of suppliers across the world and this leads to challenges in tracing the original source of all products to ensure they are sourced responsibly. We are committed to the responsible sourcing of raw materials as their production and harvesting can have a significant impact on people and cause damage to environments and ecosystems if not managed correctly. We do not source any raw materials directly, but we are committed to working with our suppliers to help them understand and develop improved traceability and visibility of the entire supply chain. It is important that raw materials are sourced in ways that protect natural habitats, support their replenishment and ensure good animal welfare standards are delivered in line with our Animal Welfare Policy requirements. We aim to use independently verified certification schemes wherever possible. We are working to increase the traceability of the key raw materials we use, and are also working towards sourcing them responsibly.

Timber: The European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) which came into force in 2013 aims to limit the trade in illegal timber. Our Product Technologists work closely with our suppliers and use a due diligence system database for assessing, managing and mitigating our timber risks, and we have continued to work externally with our suppliers to help them understand the requirements of the legislation and develop our timber database system to make it easier for suppliers to share their data with us. Our suppliers of timber based products are required to provide information via the database system about their supply chains from the forest source through to manufacture. With our diverse product off er we still encounter a number of challenges in being able to gather the right information from our suppliers, many of whom have found the increased level of engagement and the information we are trying to gain from them difficult to deliver. We continue to work in this area to reassess how we can improve the quality of the data we gather from suppliers and improve engagement to be able to ensure compliance with our policy.

Animal Welfare: Our Animal Welfare Policy, developed with support from the RSPCA, provides clear guidance on all issues in relation to the products we sell, including beauty products, the use of real fur and animal skins, feathers and shells. Our policy states we will not use real fur in any of our products and that artificial fur must be sourced instead. As artificial furs are very realistic and can be difficult for a customer to differentiate, we include wording on the care label of products to indicate the product is made using artificial fur. Next is a Fur Free Alliance listed retailer. You can read more about the Fur Free Alliance at: www.furfreeretailer.com

We do not support testing on animals for our own brand cosmetic products and do not carry out or commission such tests. We operate a fi xed cut-off date of testing for ingredients in our products of 1998. We support the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experimentation (FRAME) which seeks to end animal testing.

Cotton and textiles: Next is a signatory to the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), lead by waste reduction agency WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), alongside other major retailers, brands, recyclers, NGOs, sector bodies and charities.

This multi-stakeholder initiative allows signatories to individually measure the environmental ‘footprint’ of their clothing throughout its life, and for SCAP to report on the collective findings of the signatories against the reduction targets to 2020 as well as work with the signatories to take action to reduce the impact. The collective ambition of SCAP and its members is to improve the sustainability of clothing across its whole life cycle. By bringing together industry, government and the third sector (recyclers, charities and re-use organisations), the programme aims to look at how to reduce the carbon, water and waste footprint of clothing whilst meeting consumer expectations.

Using the SCAP Footprint Calculator we have been able to understand the environmental impacts of the clothing products we offer across their lifecycle, and start to explore the opportunities to source more sustainable alternatives.

As part of our long term sustainability strategy and to support our Product teams and suppliers to understand the environmental and sustainable impacts associated with the fibres used in our textile products we are developing training materials to both aid education and support the fibre selection decision-making process.

="Responsible

In 2015 we joined Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) as this helps support our aim of improving the traceability of cotton, our main raw material. BCI aims to promote methods of cotton production which minimise the negative impact of fertilizers and pesticides, use less water and protect soil health and natural habitats. BCI farmers achieve better yields and more financial security through access to global markets, whilst improving the working conditions in their fields. Next are proud to support BCI aiming to create a better future for cotton-farming communities. You can find out more about BCI at: www.bettercotton.org

="Cotton

Mattress recycling for customers: Mattresses are a difficult waste stream to manage with most old mattresses going to landfill, so we identified an opportunity to help our customers with this challenge. We know a large proportion of our customers have an old mattress they need to dispose of when they order a new one from us so we offer a solution where customers can request we remove and recycle their old mattress when their new mattress is being delivered.

During 2015, working with our specialist provider The Furniture Recycling Group (TFRG) we have been able to recycle 4,031 mattresses diverting over 155 tonnes from landfill.

"The Furniture Recycling Group is delighted to be working with Next to recycle mattresses which are a difficult waste stream and would previously have gone into landfill. Over 94% of the materials have been recycled with the remaining 6% being sent to energy from waste. The saving in landfill in volume is the same as 29 double decker buses!!"

Elimination of microbeads in personal care products: Next became aware of the risk to the marine environment of plastic microbeads in personal care products in 2013. We made the decision to remove the plastic microbeads from all existing and new products and formulations in our own brand products effective from July 2014 as they are harmful to marine life and end up in our oceans when washed into the water.

Focus 7: Health, Safety and Wellbeing

Next recognises the importance of health and safety and we remain committed to providing a safe and healthy working environment for our employees, customers and third party contractors.

Our approach is based on our desire to comply with the principles of sensible risk management and embrace the spirit of health and safety legislation, associated codes of practice and other relevant standards. We operate on the principle that good management of health and safety is fundamental in creating a safe and healthy environment, and contributes to improving our business performance. We expect our managers to manage areas such as cost control, productivity and customer service in a safe manner. We aim to employ practical measures to ensure our business activities and products do not harm or pose unacceptable risks to our customers, employees, contractors, sites or equipment.

Our safety programme focuses on five priorities:

  • Improve involvement in safety at all levels by developing safety leadership, improving safety communication, enabling better safety co-operation and improving safety knowledge
  • Improve the way we recognise hazards and reduce risk
  • Help people to take personal ownership for safety
  • Help people to provide safe equipment, environment and premises
  • Create a progression from a dependant to independent to interdependent safety culture

During the year we have focused on the following safety initiatives across the business:

  • Development and introduction of simple Golden Safety Rules designed to address the main causes of accidents
  • Improved management checks of our safety system to ensure correct implementation
  • Training for employees to report safety incidents that did not, but could have resulted in injury
  • Safety Listening Groups meet regularly where employees are able to share safety concerns and propose safety improvement ideas
  • Revised and improved Driving at Work procedure for all employees driving a vehicle for company business

Across our Retail stores, we have also specifically focused on:

  • Keeping children safe – for example we are training store employees to take a child’s eye look at our stores when completing floor walks.

Within our Warehouses and Regional Service Centres we have also specifically focused on:

  • A regular review of all occupational health cases to help identify key causes of ill health in the workplace using the experience of nurses and their medical knowledge. We are then targeting equipment and process redesign for the main areas of concern
  • Ensuring employees are lifting products correctly with closer monitoring and feedback where needed

Health, Safety and Wellbeing

Corporate Safety Objectives

Safety programmes and objectives for each division of the business are agreed and set every three years and are reviewed regularly at divisional safety meetings by each Divisional Director and twice a year by our Chief Executive.

Health, Welfare and Wellbeing

We encourage participation in a range of employee wellbeing programmes to support employees to help make healthy choices, lead a healthy and safe life and improve their wellbeing so they are able to perform their role well.

During the year, Next spent over £1 million on health and welfare provisions across the business providing help and support to our employees when they need it. The provisions include:

  • Health insurance assessments
  • Occupational health provision
  • Professional counselling support
  • Dedicated employee assistance programme in NEXT Distribution

We have developed activities and opportunities to help employees manage their own health and wellbeing by offering advice and guidance to employees on a wide range of matters such as:

  • Cancer advice with Macmillan
  • Stroke awareness
  • Stop smoking support
  • Stress management
  • Substance abuse
  • Wellness checks for men
  • Employee health checks for weight, blood pressure, moles and skin concerns
  • Smart health for nutrition advice
  • Exercise classes, running and walking clubs
  • Healthy eating options in our Head Office restaurants, coffee shops and juice bar
  • Programme of wellbeing events and health and wellbeing information and newsletters are promoted on our Intranet to encourage involvement in initiatives
  • Weekly physiotherapy service at Head Office, where employees are able to pay to use the service within the working day, providing time convenient access to this service

Focus 8: Training and Development

We offer a wide range of training and development opportunities for our employees across the business. We believe that offering the right learning and development opportunities will help to ensure our employees feel supported and equipped to carry out their role to the best of their ability, to manage the needs and challenges of the business.

Our employees are able to access a range of development tools or job specific training appropriate to their needs through the focused and integrated training teams within each area of the business, whether they work at Head Office, in our Retail stores, Directory operations or our warehouses.

Our integrated training teams ensure relevant and appropriate training and development is provided by supporting:

  • Job role specific training covering the technical, operational and skills training required, ensuring employees are able to perform their job effectively, and their knowledge and skills are up to date
  • Individually tailored training to support both an employee’s individual needs and specific business requirements
  • Training in areas such as health and safety, first aid and manual handling to ensure our employees work in a safe environment

Some examples of our training and development across the business are:

Warehouses and Regional Service Centres
In 2015 we introduced The Knowledge Hub. For our employee it’s a learning portal which helps them manage their training and development, and for the business the system is an organisational tool to record any learning undertaken to track an individual’s progress across multiple development programmes. In addition the system is the new platform for our e-learning packages which employees can access directly and is delivered at a pace that is right for the individual.

Within our Life Long Learning Centres located in our main warehouse sites we have continued to support employees to complete courses in Maths, English, ICT, Skill Swaps and many other creative non-work related activities including cake decorating. Working with the Union of Shop, Distribution and Allied Workers (USDAW) each centre is supported by two Union Learning Representatives. Their role is to work with USDAW, the tutors and our employees and provide course information and a clear point of contact for the learners. During the year over 500 employees have successfully completed courses.

Warehouses and Regional Service Centres

Engineering Academy

The Academy was launched in 2013 with four apprentices who are due to graduate during 2016. In addition we have two more apprentices working within the engineering team within our warehouses who joined Next in 2014 and 2015. We work with AMRC (Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre) which is based at the University of Sheffield and who are specialist providers of Engineering Apprenticeships. With Next they jointly support the delivery of the programme, supporting the assessment, functional training and delivery of additional skills required to complete the framework leading to NVQ Level 2 qualifications. Experienced Next engineers from within warehousing mentor the apprentices to support them to practically apply their learning in the workplace as well as passing on their skills and knowledge to support high levels of competency and performance.

Supporting the local community

  • SESKU - the relationship with local charity, the South Elmsall, South Kirkby and Upton (SESKU) Academy, continues to grow. A further 18 young people, aged over 18, have attended the Sector Based Work Academy where we are able to provide them with an introduction to the working environment and also helped to support their personal development and strengthen their social attributes with six securing roles to support our sale period. A further programme is planned for later in 2016
  • Project Search – working with Doncaster Council to give young adults with learning difficulties a yearlong work experience programme within our warehouses with an intention to offer a permanent role within NEXT at the end of the placement. Five of the eight students completed the programme and have been offered a permanent role. We believe we are the first logistics company in the UK to offer such placements, and a second intake of young people started in September 2015 with seven new students
  • Local schools and colleges – we are working closely with a number of schools and colleges offering a range of support from placements to assisting students to develop their understanding and skills in writing their CV, presentation skills, interview preparation and undertaking mock interviews to support their transition from school to the workplace. We have attended a number of college careers fairs to help promote opportunities at Next
  • Retail - service focused

    We have continued to focus on our aim of delivering great service to our customers by ensuring our employees receive the training and development they need to develop and progress, and perform their roles effectively.

    To support our Store managers we have introduced People Focus Days to support how they engage their teams to deliver great service. During the year several managers have undertaken the Senior Store Manager Development Programme to provide them with the additional skills and knowledge they will need to progress within the business. In addition, we have delivered ‘Bitesize’ skill training sessions focusing on delivering outstanding service and engagement to over 3,000 employees.

    Retail - Service Focused

    Head Office - attracting employees

    During 2015 there has been great attraction from students applying for trainee roles in our Fashion and Home areas. This has been driven primarily from our established relationships with key universities within the UK. We remain an Employer of Choice for Fashion students have been included in the Guardian Top 300 campaign for graduate employment.

    Encouraging top talent to want to come to Next for our Buying and Merchandising schemes has led to us building upon the success of our Open Day format – where we invite interested students into Next for the day to learn about the Product Development process. We partner with a 2nd year Fashion and Marketing course to use Next as a live project with the winners being offered short-term work placements.

    In Buying, we have run our successful final year competition again which has produced a number of talented candidates for our Buying trainee scheme. Our links with Merchandise focused university courses through company presentations has now developed into offering 12 month internship placements at Head Office. In autumn 2015, we were also present at over 15 Careers fairs promoting our career opportunities to a great variety of students.

    Next continues to sponsor and support the Fashion Retail Academy (FRA) in London, which includes sponsoring one of the student awards presented at their end of year show. We have had a number of work experience placements across Buying, and are now working with the FRA to support a new Buying & Merchandising summer school aimed at University leavers. We’ve been involved in assessing the curriculum and providing work experience as part of the programme.

    Focus 9: Listening to our Employees

    How we communicate with, consult with, involve and listen to our employees is important to the business. Throughout the different divisions of the business we have democratically elected employee representatives who represent their colleagues’ views by sitting on employee forums.

    The elected representative attends meetings with senior managers and Board Directors at least twice a year. We believe these forums provide two-way communication and consultation across the business enabling and encouraging open discussion about key business issues on matters that may affect them and the working environment.

    Next has a recognition agreement with USDAW in relation to our warehouse and distribution employees. This includes an agreement with the professional and managerial section of USDAW, called SATA, to represent our supervisory staff employed in this division of the business. Regular contact and discussions take place with both USDAW and SATA members.

    Focus 10: Distribution Efficiency

    The transport and distribution of products to our Retail stores and Directory customers accounts for 24% of our CO2e emissions. Our aim is to use our vehicles as efficiently as possible to deliver our products to stores or our customers’ homes and help to manage our transport related emissions.

    Customers can order Directory products up until 12 o’clock midnight to be delivered to their homes by the next day. This has resulted in the investment of smaller vehicles which can travel more quickly than our large lorries to ensure their delivery is achieved. In addition customers are able to receive purchases either the same day as ordered direct to a store or to their home or next day to store nationwide. Over 50% of Directory customers choose to have their order delivered to a retail store of their choice as this is more convenient for them to collect during the day.

    With all the delivery choices we offer our customers, and to ensure our stores are fully stocked we have continued to invest in additional double-deck trailers, which reduces the number of vehicle deliveries required, and hence the associated CO2e emissions. Our doubledeck trailers have an aerodynamic front bulkhead, which has been specifically designed to reduce drag, and guide the air-flow away from the front of the trailer, so increasing fuel efficiency. We are using these trailers predominantly to move product to our distribution centres located around the UK, as we are able to move 50% more products compared to using a single-deck trailer for the same journey. We are also using more double-deck trailers for direct deliveries to stores both in the UK and Ireland where possible.

    Since 2011, 100% of our delivery fleet designed to pull single, double deck or tandem trailers, and operate with EURO V engines which have helped to support the efficiencies we are delivering. From 2014 all new vehicles purchased need to conform to the EURO VI requirements which continue the drive to reduce harmful exhaust emissions and in 2015 we now have 57 of these vehicles within the fleet.

    Our Logistics and Distribution operations already use computerised planning for each route or journey, as well as utilising empty space on vehicles by consolidating loads across Retail and Directory, returning Directory customers’ returned items and back hauling waste materials to our recycling centre. How our drivers perform when driving our vehicles is key to the overall efficiency of the fleet, so in 2015 we invested in a four seater training vehicle to improve the training we are able to provide. The new vehicle promotes team training for drivers as the trainers are able to provide their support more effectively. Our training programme works with our drivers and provides training to help them improve their driving style and fuel efficiency, with techniques such as maintaining constant speeds, smooth accelerating and braking. Drivers identified as needing more support will work directly a trainer who is able to provide more in-depth training to help improve their personal performance.

    Engines are fitted with a three minute cut off mechanism, where the engine automatically turns off if the vehicle is stationary and the engine is idling for three minutes. Each driver’s performance is analysed daily to review how they have driven on a number of areas, including the actual distance travelled against the planned distance and the amount of fuel used. If their performance exceeds the plan for the routes travelled, they undergo an individual de-brief at the end of their working day to provide a clear picture as to why the discrepancy occurred and how it can be prevented going forward. We are continuing to trial a number of vehicles, trailers, accessories or systems that potentially offer improved driving efficiency, performance and driver safety and based on the results achieved will invest to enhance the fleet in the future

    Driving safety remains a priority for the business, both for our drivers as well as other road users. In addition to the training and assessments undertaken by our drivers we are also investing in equipment to support them whilst driving, such as in-cab cameras which are linked to the vehicle’s telematics and provide an alert back at the depot should an incident occur during the journey. Following a successful trial we have introduced a system called ‘Mobileye’ which is an early warning system for lane departure and can also warn the driver about hazards around their vehicle, read road signs and even apply the vehicle brakes where necessary. Another safety feature being rolled out to help eliminate the danger of a forward collision ensures the Next lorry maintains a safe distance from the vehicle in front by scanning the road ahead. If the vehicle in front brakes heavily or another vehicle cuts in front of the Next vehicle it will automatically slow down or even stop.

    Distribution

    Focus 11: Water

    Demand for water already exceeds supply in many parts of the world, including parts of the UK. For Next, our direct operations are not a major consumer of water and our direct water consumption is relatively small, however we recognise it is a natural resource and we have been working to minimise the amount we use. We control our consumption through our facilities, equipment, technologies and by involving employees in efficient use.

    Direct use at Next
    In our new stores we are installing a range of water saving features such as percussion taps and toilets with reduced flush capacities. Following a trial within our Head Office, we have installed a urinal system that uses minimum amounts of water to help deliver water savings. We are also working to improve the measurement accuracy of the water we use, and we now fi t water meters as standard in our new stores to support this, and we now have over 85% of our properties in the UK and Ireland fitted with water meters.

    Indirect use within the supply chain
    We also recognise water plays a critical role in the textile industry and during 2015 we have concentrated on understanding and measuring the embedded water impacts relating to the products we purchase.

    Next is a signatory to the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), lead by waste reduction agency WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), alongside other major retailers, brands, recyclers, NGOs and charities. The collective action of the SCAP 2020 Commitment with its members is to improve the sustainability of clothing across its whole life cycle through a programme which aims to look at how to reduce the impacts of clothing whilst meeting customers’ expectations. SCAP have developed a footprinting tool for retailers to measure the carbon, water and waste impacts of their clothing sales in a consistent manner and were able to announce in November 2015 (from a 2012 baseline) that signatory retailers have collectively reduced the water impact across the clothing supply chain by 12.5% per tonne of clothing, against a 15% reduction target by 2020. This reduction is encouraging and has been achieved mainly through sourcing fibres with a lower water footprint.

    We use a large variety of raw materials in our products and our aim is to ensure these materials are sourced and produced sustainably and responsibly. Our principal raw materials are cotton, wool, cellulosic’s (such as viscose), polyester, leather and timber. We have started to map our supply chain focussing on these principal raw materials to improve their traceability and to understand their potential impacts within a water risk assessment.

    Find out more about how we are working to source responsibly

    Water

    Focus 12: Energy Efficiency

    Improving energy efficiency reduces both costs and carbon emissions for our business. To be able to manage and work to reduce our energy consumption it is vital that we are able to measure our performance across both electricity and gas within our operations.

    Within our 540 stores and various store stockrooms, we have a total of 483 with half-hourly modem meters and 108 automated meter readers (AMR) installed. Both types of meter pass ‘live’ electricity consumption information into a central data collection facility which allows us to actively track energy performance and monitor consumption per store to ensure our stores are operating efficiently.

    Gas is used predominantly for heating purposes within the business and we are showing an uplift year on year due to increased consumption in our warehousing operations and at our head office sites. We have had AMR meters in these 16 sites where we use the most gas for a number of years. During 2015, to improve the management of how gas is used in our stores, we have installed AMR meters in 168 stores; whilst at the same time we removed the gas supply from 7 stores where we identified it was no longer needed. The installation of AMR meters allows the business to more accurately measure consumption, identify any issues more quickly and means we no longer need to rely on estimated billing.

    We manage emissions through our energy efficiency programme, which includes investigating and using energy- efficient technologies. We continue to install building management systems as we open new stores and now have 520 stores with this system in operation. The system automatically manages key store functions such as:

    • When the shop floor lighting is activated ahead of the store opening for trading to reduce the time the lights are fully turned on
    • When the store window display lighting is activated
    • How we operate the in-store air conditioning systems to run on fan only for a set length of time at the beginning and end of trading hours

    These measures have helped to make our stores more energy efficient as the system provides increased visibility and understanding of our energy consumption by store and also identifies any faults or malfunctions at individual store level so they can be immediately investigated and rectified, often before the store itself even realises the equipment isn’t performing correctly.

    In 2015 we have continued to roll out the installation of improved lighting schemes to replace the existing lighting with highly energy efficient LED (Light Emitting Diode) bulbs to illuminate all areas of our stores including the selling areas. This initiative is delivering a reduction in energy demand for the lighting installation as well as the overall electricity consumption for these stores. This is due to LED lighting consuming less electricity and creating less heat within the store, which means air conditioning requirements are reduced whilst still maintaining a comfortable shopping environment for our customers. The business continues to review our operations to identify where efficiencies can be introduced which can deliver savings in the future.

    From 2012, all the electricity we purchase for our operations across mainland UK comes from low carbon renewable sources, mainly on-shore wind, landfill gas and electricity generated from organic material present in landfill waste. For our stores in Northern Ireland and Ireland, we have continued to purchase electricity generated from Irish on-shore wind farms.

    We have a small number of stores and also our nursery at Head Office have solar PV panels, which provide a proportion of the energy needed. In addition, as part of the construction of one of our new warehouse buildings we are installing a 2.2MW PV array which will become operational during 2016 and will provide all the energy needed to run this site with any excess being exported to the grid. Our Energy team are investigating opportunities to benefit from the development of larger scale PV arrays, but currently in the locations which are of interest to Next, there are operational challenges with the network to overcome before we would be able to progress further.

    Focus 13: Waste and Recycling

    We remain committed to working to reduce the amount of waste we generate wherever possible from within our operations as we continue to grow as a business, and to reuse or recycle more of the waste we do produce to divert it from landfill.

    We set ourselves a target to send less than 5% of operational waste to landfill, and have achieved a 91% diversion rate. Whilst we are disappointed we haven’t quite achieved our target, we recognise the challenge we set ourselves of measuring and reporting on our waste journey the open and transparent manner we have chosen. Therefore we are continuing with this target to 2020 and are working to identify additional recycling facilities that can support our approach.

    We have an ongoing programme of reduction, reuse and recycling which we manage with the support of our employees across the business. Within our retail stores our employees play a vital role in effectively separating and segregating recyclable materials for return to our in-house recycling centre to minimise the waste being sent to landfill. Our in-house recycling centre receives materials for recycling from around 400 of our stores. The materials include cardboard, polythene, returned carrier bags, Directory packaging, broken clothes hangers, polystyrene and used gift cards. Once the materials are received they are segregated and baled, before being sent for recycling. Improved procedures within the recycling centre have ensured we have been able to control how these materials are handled when they are received to ensure we maximise the quantity to be recycled.

    As the number and size of our Home stores continue to expand we have reviewed how waste is managed within these stores especially when new product ranges are being introduced. Within these stores there is the requirement to build a large amount of furniture for display purposes in a short period and this product arrives protected in packaging. Working with our third party waste provider we have introduced dedicated skip compactors to manage the additional packaging waste generated at this time to ensure the materials are all recycled.

    Coat hanger Recycling

    We have reused and recycled the coat hangers our product is displayed on in our retail stores for a number of years in collaboration with our hanger supplier. Each store will re-use hangers to display products which are delivered flat packed. However if they have excess or broken hangers, they are returned to the hanger supplier via our Recycling Centre to be both reclaimed and reintroduced into the supply chain; or if unusable they will be granulated with the plastic and metal being reused to manufacture new hangers with no materials from the recycling programme going to landfill. In 2015 through this process 148 tonnes of hangers were re-used within the supply chain and 266 tonnes were granulated to be remade into new hangers.

    Head Office Waste

    During 2015 we have simplified how we ask employees at head office to segregate their waste which has led to an increase in the percentage of waste being diverted from landfill to 82%. Working with our main waste provider recycling we have further identified the materials being sent for recycling as well as the proportion whose final destination was SRF (Solid Refuse Fuel) used for energy recovery.

    Packaging

    Packaging is essential to protect products during transit as well as before and after purchase by the customer. It helps to ensure product safety and the quality of our products from suppliers to NEXT warehouses in the UK, and then onto our stores or Directory customers. We believe there is opportunity to reduce the amount of waste produced, for both ourselves and our customers, by reviewing the amount of packaging used on our products, the types of materials used which are easier to recycle and reducing it where possible to ensure it is the right size for the product. Our warehouse Quality teams and stores identify product they feel contains too much packaging for review by our technical teams who then determine the opportunity to develop reduced packaging methods with our suppliers.

    Focus 14: Charitable Partnership

    As part of the target to divert our waste from being sent to landfill, Next has continued to identify and divert products that previously would have been disposed of via landfill, and offer them for re-use to a group of registered charities and social enterprise organisations who are able to create value from the products to benefit their aims.

    They include:

    Doncaster Refurnish – Next has worked in partnership with the Social Enterprise charity for eight years to support their valuable work within the community. They are located close to our warehouses, and their aims are to help the community of Doncaster by turning waste into jobs, employability and educational opportunities.

    We continue to offer them unsellable, damaged furniture and home accessories that they are able reuse, repair or remanufacture to create new products, and from these create value to support their aims. This has helped Next to divert 513 tonnes from landfill for reuse by the charity. During 2015, Doncaster Refurnish has been able to create £565,300 from the products donated by Next to help fund and support its charitable work in the community and in addition have been able to increase their workforce to 50 staff, provide 139 training work placements and open a new store in Doncaster.

    Andy Simpson, CEO of Refurnish said: "The Next Refurnish partnership provides a great deal of public benefit and continues to grow incrementally year on year. We’re more than just a furniture re-use project. Thinking sustainably and acting locally, we dissect the waste stream, maximise the resources, add value and work to give more back to our communities. This income makes possible the delivery of much needed services within our community."

    Andy Simpson Image 1 Andy Simpson Image 2 Andy Simpson Image 3

    We are pleased with the continued success of our partnership, and the role we are able to play to support Doncaster Refurnish, an organisation whose unique and vibrant approach to social enterprise is working to make a difference to the local community where it is needed most. If you would like to find out more about the work Doncaster Refurnish undertake, please go to: www.refurnish.co.uk

    Oxfam – we started to work with Oxfam in 2010, after identifying product items that were unsellable for Next but could be used to create value for the charity to support its global work. During 2015 we have been able to divert 13 tonnes of unsellable products from landfill by offering them to Oxfam who have taken the items to support their work overseas in a number of countries including a project they have developed in Senegal called Frip Ethique. It is an Oxfam-run social enterprise which provides employment for mainly disadvantaged women. It buys and sells second hand clothing, but is different from other second hand clothing companies because it role models good business practice and maximises the benefit for poor people in the second hand clothing value chain with over 500 small traders buying stock from Frip Ethique to run their own businesses. The profits are invested in Oxfam’s work fighting poverty in Senegal.

    Focus 15: Carrier Bag Update

    NEXT continues to support and encourage our customers to reduce the use of single-use carrier bags where appropriate by using the most appropriate size of bag for their purchase or placing the purchase in the customer’s own bag.

    In line with regulatory charging requirements for single-use carrier bags in Wales, Scotland and England £717,000 was raised to be distributed in country and shared between environmental and health charities focusing on care and support for life-limited children, young people and their families – read more on www.next.co.uk. In Northern Ireland the monies are paid to the Government who use the proceeds to fund environmental projects.

    In both Wales and Scotland we support WWF and their Celtic Seas Partnership which is working to protect the marine wildlife around the Welsh and Scottish coastline which is home to a spectacular array of wildlife and marine habitat. WWF’s aim is to achieve ‘Good Environmental Status’ from the EU by 2020 which focuses on five initiatives:

    • Biodiversity
    • Underwater noise
    • Non-indigenous species
    • Food webs
    • Marine litter
    "At this pivotal point in marine conservation, we’re delighted to be receiving support from Next through the donations from their carrier bag scheme. The funds ensure the continued development of the Celtic Seas Partnership, a pioneering initiative to protect the marine environment around Wales, Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, France and the Republic of Ireland. The funds help us to work with a wide diversity of sea users across the whole of the Celtic Seas to identify sustainable solutions to help improve the state of our seas"
    Lyndsey Dodds, Head of UK Marine Policy, WWF-UK
    WWF Logo

    Charitable Partnership