Project background

Bunzl plc is a global distributor and logistics company, with operations in 60+ countries across five continents. As a leading FTSE 100 company with products and services linked to sensitive environmental and social issues (e.g. plastics, emissions, modern slavery risk) the company faces many drivers for action on sustainability, including regulatory pressure, investors, clients and NGOs.

Bunzl is also a highly decentralised company and, following significant growth both organically and through acquisition, it has a large number of operating companies grouped within five main business areas across Europe, the Americas and Australasia. Consequently, for an organisation with a multi-billion dollar supply chain and different companies operating in different geographies, with differing levels of focus and specialising in terms of product lines and services, there is no “one size fits all” definition of sustainability that can be applied equally.

Given the drivers for action on sustainability issue, Bunzl approached Avievo to help the company define a strategic framework for action that would align to the company’s ambition and highly decentralised nature

Our approach

Avieco worked with the Group HR Director, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Risk Management Committee to devise a project plan, identify key stakeholders and relevant organisations to include in the benchmarking. Timeframes were short, with 8 – 12 weeks allowed from project inception to schedule board meetings to agree and approve the direction.

We developed a standardised interview framework to obtain both qualitative and quantitative data to inform the strategy and surveyed opinions from 35+ key personnel around the world. Our interviews included two of the five board members, members of the executive committee, regional and company level managing directors, heads of operations, procurement, sales, investor relations, EHS managers and other key functions from around the world.

These interviews enabled Avieco to from a nuanced view of what sustainability means to Bunzl as a commercial enterprise in different parts of the world, the risks and opportunities faced, the wins and losses already experienced by the company linked to sustainability concerns, the evolution of this agenda over time and the differentiated performance and action at an operational level.

In parallel, Avieco conducted a benchmarking exercise to assess Bunzl’s position on sustainability in relation to competitors, key customers, investors, regulators, NGOs and “the expert community” (i.e. what leading consultancy/academia has to say regarding best practice and the case for action). This information was used to create a compelling presentation and business case for Bunzl’s global action on sustainability against a common “three pillars” framework.

Project outcomes

Following a board-level review, this strategic framework and approach has now been formally adopted by the company and incorporated with its annual strategic planning process. Each operating company within the business is required to provide further details of its actions, risks and opportunities across the three pillars using a “Comply, Compete, Champion” scale to gauge level of action from minimum regulatory compliance to market- leading services. This process also informs the company’s 3-5 planning and internal sharing of best practice to promote change.

They formed good relationships with our staff across the world to obtain and validate the data required within a short timescale. They provided knowledge of social risks which allowed us to complete the analysis and to define our direction and actions to mitigate the risks. Avieco has been easy to work with, responsive to our requirements and pragmatic in their solutions.

Gijs Voskuilen

Head of Corporate Responsibility

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