We have a team of 42 locally-based responsible sourcing specialists in 10 key sourcing countries around the world who work with suppliers, NGOs, trade unions and other experts to understand the risks in our supply chain and ensure we are meaningfully addressing them. Some of these are:
Ryan travelled to California in early 2011 and has been based there for us ever since. With a BSc in agriculture and significant produce experience, he has been building strong relationships with the best exporters in the region. Our Asian businesses import more products from the USA than any other country and Ryan works closely with our partners there to put quality first.
Gonzalo joined the Americas hub in 2011. His experience in fresh produce and knowledge of the South American fruit industry has enabled us to develop very strong relationships with exporters and growers in the region. In Chile, for example, Gonzalo has been focusing on innovation and working with suppliers on new ways to increase the shelf life of our grapes.
Nic, South Africa
Nic holds a BSc in Agriculture, specialising in Viticulture and Winemaking. Based in South Africa, Nic also travels to Namibia three times a year to ensure we keep strong relationships with our growers there, who use the Orange River and the Namibian heat to produce sweet grapes. He is currently working on developing new varieties which have an increased natural resistance to disease and produce higher yields.
With both grower experience and a Master’s degree in Agricultural Science, Matteo is our expert for kiwis, stonefruit, grapes and watermelon. During the summer watermelon harvest Matteo travels from the North to the South of Italy, visiting the best growers like the Dezio brothers, who run their family-owned business in Puglia. Matteo monitors the texture, colour and eating quality of the fruit.
Ban, Hong Kong
What do you enjoy most about working for F&F?
In the last five years I have been in the F&S business, it has been great witnessing how the brand has developed to become more and more committed to social responsibility, and to endeavor to ensure that workers making the F&F clothes are well treated and can benefit from the business.
What is your role and how do you ensure our Ethical Trading Standards are monitored/upheld?
At F&F, we have strong ethical values and are very committed to ethical trading. We expect all our suppliers to share our values. Apart from engaging external audit companies to conduct independent monitoring, we also have our own team of ethical trading experts in our key sourcing countries (e.g. Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey, etc.) to assess working conditions in factories to ensure they meet our ethical trading standards.
Whenever my team and I find non-compliances, we require factories to take necessary corrective actions. In order to support factories to improve, we organise regular ethical training workshops to communicate to suppliers our ethical trading requirements and share industry best practices, and engage specialist consultancies to help enhance their internal capability to implement the standards.
What is your proudest achievement during your time at F&F?
There was a case in China where some workers have sought our help to resolve a case of unfair dismissal. One of the workers was a pregnant woman worker and she was very distressed and worried about her future when she contacted us for help. We conducted an investigation and confirmed that the factory was indeed wrong to dismiss the workers.
Workers did not want to continue to work in the factory and demanded compensation. We ensured that the factory provided proper and legal compensation to the workers. Later we received a call from the woman worker who has given birth to a baby girl and she asked to name her baby after one of my teammates who had led the resolution of the case.
There are also a few times when I visited factories participating in the women workers training programme in Bangladesh, some workers came up to me and told me in their local language (and translated to me through my local teammates) how glad they are that they have been able to become recognised as ambassadors to spread knowledge to their other workers and how it helped them get better exposures and higher self-value.
To hear from workers how our ethical trading program has really helped them, and to get recognition from workers like this is so rewarding . It encourages us to continue to work hard to improve the working conditions in our supply base.
What is your role in the F&F business?
I have been working with F&F for more than 5 years and I look after Garment & Production team for Bangladesh & Pakistan. I am based in our Dhaka, Bangladesh, office.
My team and I regularly visit our factories, and we manage the end to end process for Technical to make sure we offer good quality products to our customer. We monitor third party Technical audits, product samples to ensure they are fit for purpose, pre-production meetings to support factories to become more efficient, and monitor third party product inspections to make sure the products are right for our customer before they leave the factory.
How do you play a part in ensuring our products are ethically sourced?
All of our factories are approved ethically and technically by recognised third party companies. We have in-country ethical and technical teams who travel to factories almost every week to ensure the factory standard is consistent in any circumstance.
F&F products are being produced only in our approved sites which have been monitoring by hub Technical teams. In Bangladesh, we have Tesco certified representatives in all of our approved factories who ensure product quality and factory standards.
How often do you visit factories and how do you generally spend your time when you are in them?
Between me and my team in Bangladesh, we travel to our core factories at least once in a week to ensure factories are maintaining a high standard. We regularly conduct pre-production meetings in the factory premise to identify and solve any potential production issues. We also make sure raw materials come from approved sources and carry out a product audit to ensure the correct quality products are supplied to the Customers
What do you like about your job?
I am proud of the suppliers we work with at F&F and to work in a company that spends so much time working with the factory, in their premises.