Time is of the essence for sustainable supply chains, says B&Q

Finding enough time to ensure supply chains are fully sustainable is one of the central challenges facing companies, according to B&Q senior sustainability manager George Padelopoulos.

Speaking at the Responsible Procurement & Supplier Engagement conference organised by edie and Sustainable Business, Padelopoulos said that almost all of B&Q’s timber was sustainably sourced.

However, according to Padelopoulos, it has taken B&Q 20 years to get to that position and “time is something you shouldn’t underestimate.”

“Time in today’s world is a commodity that we perhaps don’t feel we have got, but sometimes time is a commodity that we need in order to make some of the changes we need to,” said Padelopoulos.

“For a lot of our suppliers moving to [sustainably sourced timber] schemes like the Forest Stewardship Council’s meant that they had to fundamentally change the way they operated and had to bring in new systems, new processes, and actually rethink the way they source products,” he added.

Padelopoulos said this was “a big part of the challenge” and that in order to overcome it, B&Q had to be “flexible and realistic” with its suppliers.

According to Padelopoulos, it was no good “banging the drum” and making demands from suppliers on an unreasonable timescale.

“This is very much about partnership. Compared to our competitors we are in a very good place,” he said.

Padelopoulos insisted that it was important to plan ahead for the long-term, even if it meant losing out in the short-term and the fact that B&Q’s competitors were struggling to keep up with compliance, acted as justification for decisions the company made twenty years ago.

“We did take the hit over many, many, years, but now EU timber regulations have come into place,” he said.

“Things like security of supply chain, better trading conditions, and improved sourcing are all of the things that our competitors are struggling with because they don’t have the systems in place.

“It is very much about seeing the wood through the trees,” he added.

Conor McGlone

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