Supply chains are often a complex and layered discussion and my recent interviews with BCFA members Ocee Design and Camira confirm just how much so. This isn’t to paint supply chains in a negative light but highlight how much work and thought is required in developing and maintaining them especially when it comes to sustainability. Both BCFA members are making and have made significant changes to the practises within their chain of supply to work towards a better future.
I sat down to talk to Sian Berkley, Group Sustainability & Environmental Manager and Jessica Bowyer, Sourcing Manager from Ocee Design and Gavin Thatcher, Director of Operations at Camira to discuss all things supply chains.
Politics and pandemics have definitely kept our interviewees busy over the last year and many changes have been accelerated by either one or both. Jess at Ocee Design tells me that the group had already been working through risk assessments for Brexit:
“In February 2020, we were already discussing how to mitigate the potential problems that could arise from border delays and even though the pandemic hit harder and faster than we expected, we could react quickly and put those initial risk assessments into practise.”
She also told me of a see saw style of working with their sister company in Denmark, Ocee Four, as each country went in and out of lockdown, the other would pick up the demand to keep things running. A flexible approach has been key it seems for both Ocee Design and Camira. Gavin stresses it is the support from employees that have allowed them to adapt to the demands of the pandemic.
Despite the pandemic consuming a lot of thinking space and time, both BCFA members have been equally busy when it comes to sustainability and looking at improvements they can make throughout the supply chain. Sian was bought on specifically to manage these changes and since joining 18 months ago, Ocee have made huge strides with their sustainability standardisation across the board. She talked me through the UN Global Compact which serves as the basis of their own sustainable policies. The principles fall into four main categories: Human Rights, Labour, Environment, Anti-Corruption – the idea that Corporate Sustainability starts with meeting the fundamental responsibilities in these areas. The UN itself states that:
“By incorporating the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact into strategies, policies and procedures, and establishing a culture of integrity, companies are not only upholding their basic responsibilities to people and planet, but also setting the stage for long-term success.”
Not a small undertaking by any means but it became clear that both Camira and Ocee are thinking long term. Gavin also tells me in detail how Camira’s corporate structure focuses on sustainability and it is something they take very seriously. One example he gives demonstrates Camira’s move to make things as cyclical as possible, the run off water from their dying factories is reused as much as possible. A simple but effective change. Ocee also has examples of the small wins that add up, Sian tells me about maximising the use of their vans that are out on delivery, if geographically close to their suppliers – they pick up supplies instead of returning empty. This also demonstrates how Occee are working in partnership with their supply chain:
“It is a big shift for the company but it is all about the bigger picture. We ask how can the whole approach be better and more sustainable?” Sian relays.
This mentality of everyone benefitting shared by both companies echoes the goals of the UN Global Compact but it is important to note because it puts the partnership with the supply chain at the heart of long term success.
Sian tells me that naturally there has been a mixed response to the changes, some suppliers are ready and others not but one hugely positive outcome of the pandemic is the rise in consumer demand for sustainable changes and visibility of said changes.
All in all the last year may have proven trickier than some but the moves both BCFA members have already made towards a sustainable future has only served them well, however it is clear that it’s also the attitude of community and collaboration within their own teams as well as with suppliers that provides the foundation for longevity. Thank you to both Camira and Ocee Design for taking the time to talk to me for this article.
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