19 July 2007 | Antony Barton
Europe's largest DIY group is to improve its assessments of suppliers' factories and has introduced targets for sustainable timber sourcing.
Over the next year Kingfisher, which owns B&Q, Screwfix and Trade Depot, will introduce a group-wide vendor/factory assessment process to ensure compliance with the Kingfisher Code of Conduct for Factory Working Conditions. Buyers will work with the corporate responsibility teams in each of the operating firms to monitor assessments by external auditors. They will also provide help on how to meet Kingfisher's code of practice.
Ray Baker, Kingfisher's director of corporate responsibility, said: "Our experience in China shows providing suppliers with guidance on key issues such as health, safety and hygiene is effective in developing their capacity to improve conditions where needed."
As well as covering suppliers to the operating companies, the assessments will include vendors to Kingfisher's overseas sourcing offices in China, Poland, India and Thailand. These procure around 8 per cent of products sold across the group.
The project will avoid possible duplication of factory assessments where operating companies use the same supplier and ensure they employ a universal procedure.
It also aims to source 75 per cent of its timber for resale from sustainable sources by 2010-2011. Currently 69 per cent meets this target.
Baker told SM procurement teams will have training sessions and be given research on the availability of sustainable timber.
The group operates more than 700 stores in 11 countries.