Modern Slavery Act 2015 Statement

Our business

Furniture Village is the UK’s largest privately-owned furniture retailer selling upholstery, beds, cabinets and accessories. We operate from over 50 store locations throughout the UK, alongside a fully transactional online website.

All of our operations are based in the UK, with our Group Offices in Slough and additional support functions and a National Distribution Centre located in Milton Keynes. The retail outlets are further supported by 16 Regional Distribution Centres. In total, Furniture Village now employs c. 1200 people throughout the UK.

Our Statement

2020 / 21 has been a difficult year for all, including our suppliers. The Covid19 pandemic has presented challenges previously unthinkable and has led to many suppliers suspending or significantly restricting production, for much of the past 12 months

Despite the challenges, we have used the time to further mitigate risks within our supply chain. Of particular concern is the plight of the Uyghur people of north west China. We contacted our entire supply base seeking declarations concerning their use of migrant labour, raw materials, or sub suppliers purchasing raw materials or labour from the Xinjiang region. All replied positively with no risks raised.

Slavery, servitude, forced labour and human trafficking (modern slavery) are issues of increasing global concern, affecting all sectors, regions and economies. Modern slavery is fundamentally unacceptable within our business and supply chains and is an important element in our overall approach to business and human rights. Furniture Village as a family-owned business is committed to respecting, protecting and championing the human rights of all those who work within our operations, including employees, stock and non-stock supply chain workers, customers and local communities. We accept our responsibility to support transparency and honesty; to find and resolve problems, and to work with others to protect the rights of workers, particularly those who are most vulnerable to abuses such as modern slavery.

Furniture Village recognises the importance of its obligation to prevent slavery and human trafficking in the modern world and we operate a zero-tolerance approach to any contravention of this policy, throughout all our business operations.

Any breaches or concerns identified will be dealt with immediately and with positive action. Furniture Village expects the same high standards from all our suppliers and contractors.

Our supply chain

  • Furniture Village sources products from both the UK and globally using established wholesalers, suppliers and factories working with a wide range of substrates such as timber, fabrics, metals and glass.
  • Whilst working globally ensures that we have access to the widest range of commercially priced, quality furniture, we acknowledge that there is increased potential exposure to modern slavery within these global supply networks.
  • We recognise that products sourced from the Far East have the potential to pose the greatest risk of modern slavery within our supply chain, through the sourcing of raw materials, the manufacturing process itself and the shipping to the UK.
  • We operate our own fleet of delivery vehicles delivering from Distribution Centres, though we utilise respected third-party contractors during peak periods, with our Suppliers also delivering direct to customers in some instances.
  • We also outsource some of our support services, including store building and maintenance activities, though always using highly regarded Suppliers with whom we largely have long standing working relationships.

Furniture Village is working towards full transparency across our supply chain to mitigate the risk of slavery and human trafficking within our business.

Our supply base is categorised by risk, based on the geographical location of the factory, and how we source the product. This categorisation allows us to prioritise workload to mitigate these risks. All suppliers are currently treated equally in the levels of diligence we expect, regardless of their UK brand recognition.

 

SUPPLIER CATEGORIES – Sourcing Route / Risk

Risk Priority

Import (Asia / Non-EU) Products sourced from suppliers based in Asia 1
Import (EU) EU manufactured and/or sourced from EU based suppliers 2
Supplier Import Suppliers responsible for UK importation of products 3
UK Based Purchased from, and made within, the UK 4

Our Policies

We are continuously developing our retail offering whilst being mindful of the four pillars of the United Nations which include human rights, labour standards, environmental and anti-corruption standards. In this regard, we have developed the following policies:

  • Recruitment Policy
  • Whistleblowing Policy
  • Employee code of conduct
  • Employee training Policy

All personnel within Furniture Village, its suppliers and contractors, existing and new, are briefed on the policy and our expectations of full compliance to the requirements set out in the Modern Slavery Act.

 

Risk assessment

As an organisation we recognise there is a risk of modern slavery in any area of our business where there is:

  • Migrant labour (country to country or within a country)
  • High presence of refugees
  • Young workers and risk of child labour
  • Contract and agency workers
  • Women workers

To further mitigate and reduce the risk to Furniture Village as far as is reasonably practical, we are implementing the following measures:

 

Modern Slavery Risk

Issue

Steps to be taken

Status

Migrant Labour Migrant workers paying recruitment fees may be trapped in bonded labour and be subjected to inferior employment terms.

Labour recruiters create an additional layer between employers and workers, leaving workers exposed to deceptive or coercive recruitment practices.

Migrant workers often do not understand their rights in the destination country and the terms of their employment.

Countries of highest risk: China
Implement an independent Social audit system, prioritising suppliers based on our risk categorisation. Plan underway, initial audits completed.
Refugess Refugees are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking and forced, bonded and compulsory labour.

Refugees may not have access to legal means of employment, therefore increasing vulnerability.

Countries of highest risk: Bangladesh, China, Kenya, Tanzania, Pakistan, and Turkey.
Implement an independent Social audit system, prioritising suppliers based on our risk categorisation. Plan underway, initial audits completed.
Young/Child Labour Children and young workers are more vulnerable to forms of modern slavery such as compulsory and forced labour as well as human trafficking.

Insufficient HR processes mean that young workers may be employed and enter the work place without enough checks to confirm their age, ability and safety in the work place.

Countries of highest risk: China, India, Turkey.
Implement an independent Social audit system, prioritising suppliers based on our risk categorisation. Plan underway, initial audits completed.
Contract & Agency workers Contract workers are often less secure in their employment, may have fewer rights in the workplace and are therefore more vulnerable to exploitation.

Labour recruiters create an additional layer between employers and workers, leaving workers exposed to deceptive or coercive recruitment practices.

Countries of highest risk: India, Turkey, UK.
Implement an independent Social audit system, prioritising suppliers based on our risk categorisation. Plan underway, initial audits completed.
Women Workers Women are particularly vulnerable to exploitation, human trafficking and bonded labour.

Countries of highest risk: All source countries.
Implement an independent Social audit system, prioritising suppliers based on our risk categorisation. Plan underway, initial audits completed.
Service Level Agreements Whilst we have a stable supplier base, we acknowledge there may be circumstances where our suppliers may need to review their resourcing from other countries. Our SLA has been rebranded as a Trading Partner Agreement, rewritten and reissued. Full sign up by our supply base targeted Q3 2021.

Due Diligence

Manufacturing Location Risk Assessment

We are in the process of completing a full supplier risk assessment based on the original location of product manufacturing.

The assessment will provide an indication of the potential level of slavery exposure associated with that location and determine the level of visibility or additional control measures required for further scrutiny.

March 2021 Update – Approximately 70% complete. Factory locations / product groups compiled, final risk assessments to be completed mid 2021/22 financial year.
Social audits underway on our highest risk suppliers based of our supplier categorisation. Independent social audits will be conducted on all suppliers in line with priority ranking.

 

Working with our Suppliers

Our supply base is ever changing in line with current business needs. We have issued our Modern Slavery policy to all our suppliers. We have formal agreements in place with approximately 90% of our suppliers, the remaining 10% account for new suppliers with agreements we are working towards.

March 2021 Update – A revised Trading Partner Agreement is being issued to our entire supply base. The revision includes a requirement for full transparency of factory locations and the due diligence completed to mitigate slavery risks at the production site and within the supply of materials.

 

Supplier Relationships

We have long standing relationships with the majority of our suppliers, with whom we share the same commitment to ensuring that modern slavery does not exist within the supply chain. Our Buying and Quality teams regularly visit our major overseas suppliers and their support to adhering the Modern Slavery Act is of paramount importance.

March 2021 Update – Factory visits were suspended during the past 12 months due to travel restrictions. Most of our supplier factories have been shutdown for long periods however are now back to full production. Supplier visits will commence when restrictions are lifted.

 

Employee Awareness and Training

We recognise the need for training and we have actively provided all personnel with an awareness and training of the Modern Slavery Act and have developed the training to provide direct access to supplementary training resources via a Learning Management System. In addition to this, when joining the business, all new employees will be required to undertake compulsory training modules to gain awareness of the Modern Slavery Act and their responsibilities to it.

 

Whistleblowing

Furniture Village has a whistleblowing policy which facilitates personnel both internal and external to the business, to report any unethical practices.

Effectiveness

Continued monitoring of the effectiveness of our Policy will primarily be through our supplier agreement with the revised Trading Partner Agreement. The speed and effectiveness of any corrective actions being taken because of issues raised is also key, along with a continued commitment to increasing awareness and training throughout the entire supply chain.

We have identified clear next steps we need to take to confirm our full compliance with the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act and will continue to develop appropriate measures to ensure adherence throughout the supply chain and identify areas for improvement as appropriate.

This statement is made pursuant to section 54(1) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and has been approved by the Board of Directors. This policy constitutes as our Slavery and Human Trafficking statement for financial year ending August 2020.

 

Claire Sheils
Finance Director

March 2021