Modern Slavery Statement Financial Year End 2019/20
This statement has been produced by Sofology Limited, which is part of the DFS Furniture Group in accordance with s.54 of the Modern Slavery Act (MSA) 2015 and in line with our DFS Group Modern Slavery Policy for the 2019/2020 financial year. This statement sets out the steps that Sofology has taken, and is continuing to take, to ensure that modern slavery or human trafficking is not taking place in any area of our business or supply chain.
Modern slavery encompasses slavery, servitude, human trafficking and forced labour. Sofology has a zero-tolerance approach to any form of modern slavery and, as outlined in this statement, will take all appropriate actions to assist in the abolition of modern slavery. We are committed to acting ethically, with integrity and with transparency in all business dealings and we have put effective systems and controls in place to safeguard against any form of modern slavery taking place within our business or supply chain. We also acknowledge that we have more work to do to strengthen our procedures, something that is clearly outlined in this statement.
Sofology is a subsidiary of the DFS Furniture Group. It is a significant omni channel furniture retailer. We sell, deliver and install high quality sofas and other living room furniture via our stores, telephone sales team and online. Our sofas are handmade to order by our suppliers. We deliver and install within the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and Channel Islands. Sofology has 45 stores throughout the United Kingdom and 8 distribution centres. We have one Support Office based in Golborne, Warrington. Sofology employs over 1000 colleagues at the above sites.
Sofology sells a huge range of fabric and leather upholstery, along with occasional items such as lighting, rugs, mirrors and tables. Most of these items are sourced from suppliers and partners with whom we have enjoyed long and stable relationships. These suppliers and partners are located in the United Kingdom, Europe and China. We have invested in these relationships and believe that their longevity and stability serve to help reduce the risk of modern slavery and forced labour in our supply chain network.
Our colleagues are integral to our business and its success. Our recruitment policies ensure we recruit the best people for our business - people who share our values and principles. Equality and Diversity is important to us, as demonstrated by the steps we have taken to recruit colleagues from all backgrounds regardless of gender, sexuality, age and race. Our recruitment values and principles adhere to regulations and employment law. Our recruitment team work closely with the wider People Team and are involved and integrated with strategy and initiatives such as colleague engagement, part time working, leadership, equality, diversity and inclusion. At Sofology, our colleagues are ambassadors of our brand, and we believe in investing in them, as shown by the vast amount of learning and development opportunities made available to all.
Relevant Policies / Ways of Working
We strive to act with integrity and transparency at all times and we operate a number of internal policies and ‘need to know’ ways of working to assist in safeguarding against human rights infringements including: Recruitment Policy, Whistleblowing Policy, Health and Safety Policy, Harassment and Bullying Policy, Equal Opportunities Policy and Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. We have also reviewed these policies to develop a better understanding of our existing processes, identifying what reporting data is available and using cross business resources.
Sofology has worked hard on increasing colleague understanding of our policies. In March 2019 we launched a mandatory training module about key policies to all of our colleagues. We have made developments to our policy hub as well as sending several internal communications to colleagues to remind them of our procedures.
Since we published our previous statement we have also strengthened our whistleblowing Policy. Some of the initiatives include: the introduction of a Group whistleblowing line and a ‘text to talk’ service. Whistleblowing allows colleagues to report any concerns including the infringement of human rights. All reports are taken extremely seriously and are fully investigated. In addition we have seen the launch of our ‘talk to us’ platform which helps colleagues to understand all the ways they are able to raise any issues within the business.
Our Chief Executive Officer, Buying Director and Head of Supply Chain regularly visit our upholstery suppliers and partners. These regular visits support and strengthen our longstanding relationships, and these relationships help form shared understanding, visions and goals.
During the Year
We have established a Group Code of Conduct which was rolled out to all of our major upholstery and commercial partners at our Partnership Forum in October 2019. This code of conduct aims to explain the principles we expect our suppliers to follow and details that breaches may lead to contract termination.
As part of the wider DFS Furniture Group, audits have been carried out at 7 suppliers - 2 of which are shared between Sofology and DFS Furniture Group. These audits did not uncover any breaches in modern slavery and labour relations at the sites where Sofology products were being made.
All Sofology colleagues who have direct contact with Suppliers have undertaken a Modern Slavery awareness programme encouraging vigilance and whistleblowing if breaches are suspected.
Next Steps and Due Diligence
At Sofology we have a zero-tolerance approach to modern slavery. In order to ensure that our risk stays extremely low, we have identified our need to develop the following:
- We will request our product suppliers to sign up to our Supplier Code of Conduct which will require them to:
- Accept our standards and our right to audit their factories against this standard.
- Accept their responsibility to review their own extended supply chain against this standard.
- Compliance will be validated through a schedule of audits both internal and 3rd party external.
- We will be including Modern Slavery adherence requirements into our updated Supplier SLAs where they do not already exist.
- All Partner suppliers who qualify under MSA will be asked to produce their own MS policy covering their own extended supply chain.
- Continue to develop our internal policies ensuring they are communicated effectively to our colleagues.
- Be open with challenges and share learning to support others across the DFS Furniture group brands.
- Be planet and people positive - an inclusive brand, employer and partner. To extend MSA awareness training to 80% of Sofology colleagues.
Risk Assessment and Due Diligence
The Board of Directors have overall responsibility for Corporate Governance and due diligence activity, including any anti-slavery initiatives.