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S-Group: retailers can make a difference to fix unfair working conditions in high-risk countries

Helsinki, Finland, 2014-1-29 — /EPR Retail News/ — There is no quick fix to the problem of unfair working conditions in high-risk countries, but we are moving in the right direction, says S-Group Corporate Responsibility Director Lea Rankinen.

S-Group has made major efforts over the last year to enhance supply chain monitoring for foodstuffs.

“Customers expect us to know the supply chain of the products that we sell in our stores, and they expect it to stand up to close scrutiny. Transparency is our watchword,” Rankinen explains.

Although monitoring formerly extended only as far as the manufacturing stage in high-risk countries, it has now been enlarged to include raw material production, even when the final product is made in Finland or in another well-regulated country. S-Group has ensured that its suppliers are fully familiar with social responsibility requirements for suppliers of raw materials, and with its expectations of compliance in this respect. “Traceability and human rights are now progressing through the supply chain at a good pace, but it takes time and patience to implement new operating practices,” Rankinen stresses.

Transparent supply chains are good for everyone

Rankinen is not surprised at the findings of Finnwatch reports published both recently and a year ago, and she expects to see similar anomalies exposed in future as the spotlight focuses on supply chains all the way to the raw material source.

Visiting Thailand in August 2013, the S-Group food trade management team met all of the suppliers whose operations were highlighted in the previous Finnwatch report. The visit also included personal contact with public authorities and government representatives. All of these meetings focused on correcting identified shortcomings in working conditions.

“This is a long-term undertaking in which progress is made in small steps,” explains Jari Simolin, Sourcing Director for Groceries at S-Group. “Boycotts are not the solution, but instead we must work together with local operators and international regulatory control mechanisms.”

The work of the S-Group fact-finding team in Thailand last year was extensively reported through the Finnish-language Patarumpu information service:

For further details please contact:

Lea Rankinen, Director, Corporate Reponsibility at S-Group, tel. +358 10 768 2453

Jari Simolin, Sourcing Director for Groceries at S-Group, tel. +358 10 768 7030

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