11 May 2007 | Rebecca Ellinor
"Don't take your eyes off the UK" was the warning to buyers issued by M&S purchasing boss Bob Tragheim this week.
Speaking at the CIPS central London branch event on ethical sourcing, the group head of non-merchandise procurement at Marks & Spencer, said buyers should be mindful of abuse and mistreatment of UK-based workers as well as those overseas.
"Think UK as well as offshore," he said. "We've got similar problems in the UK - so don't take your eyes off it. There is exploitation, sweatshops and gangmasters out there at the moment."
Tragheim, whose department is responsible for an annual spend of £1.5 billion covering goods not for resale, explained M&S's policy on sustainable procurement and how it feeds into the company-wide CSR programme called Plan A.
He said buyers at the retail giant are working with suppliers to help deliver the five pillars of the plan - to combat climate change, reduce waste, safeguard natural resources, trade ethically and build a healthier nation.
One way it is tackling these issues is to scrutinise the activities of vendors throughout its supply chain.
"Buyers cannot manage brand integrity from their desks, they must walk the value chain. If managing your brand and lending it out means you have to get on a plane and see for yourself what's happening, then that's what you have to do."