At Big Table Group, we know that how we do business goes way beyond financial performance. Our approach to doing the right thing as a good corporate citizen defines our approach to corporate responsibility. We believe that achieving our corporate goals and targets can be done whilst keeping our impacts to a minimum.
Our business has changed immeasurably since it first started and with the challenging issues of globalisation, sustainability, changes to the legislative landscape, and an ever-demanding consumer, our approach has to be long-term and adaptable.
Our corporate responsibility journey will not be without its challenges but we know that if we build a solid foundation today, we will be a better business tomorrow. We also know that corporate responsibility needs to be fully embedded into our brands and a natural integration of the way we do business.
The success of our journey cannot be done alone and we will work with external stakeholders, including Government, regulators, NGOs, private companies, organisations and forums, harnessing their expertise to ensure that we make informed decisions about our business.
We have a bold and stretching ambition of being an industry leader in this area and have already achieved this through our commitments to sourcing 100% free range eggs and sustainably sourced fish across all our brands.
This approach will cover all our business operations, which fall under three key areas: Planet, People and Product.
Responsible sourcing is key to our ability to deliver great products and value for money for our customers in the UK and throughout the World. We also understand that many of our customers want to buy products that support their local businesses, particularly in the current economic climate.
In practice, this means working with our suppliers to ensure the sustainability of our products take into consideration their economic, environmental and social impacts.
Whenever possible, we source ingredients and products from the local area in which the business operates. Where there is not enough supply in the local region to meet all of our needs, we work closely with producers and processors to improve this.
All of our suppliers operating around the world are required to work to the highest standards of food production safety and product quality and Big Table Group is committed to open and honest relationships with suppliers to help them achieve this.
We have identified seven key commodities: palm oil, soy, fish, seafood, tea, coffee, and timber, which are globally recognised as at a high risk of unsustainable sourcing from areas which have been deforested or at risk of deforestation. Our responsible sourcing policy details these commodities and the requirements that must be complied with at all times.
Quality and animal welfare is a high priority for us and we work very closely with our suppliers to ensure the farms from which they are sourced are managed in a responsible way.
Our ‘cage free egg pledge’ and fish sourcing policies are industry leading initiatives that demonstrate our dedication to achieving ‘best in class’ for responsible procurement along the entirety of our supply chain.
We insist that all UK and overseas suppliers comply with UK and EU legal welfare requirements as a minimum. In addition, our farms uphold the principles of the RSPCA’s Five Freedoms to ensure the health and welfare of animals throughout our supply chain. These standards are independently audited by certification bodies.
Farm Animal Welfare Five Freedoms:
We source ingredients and products from around the world. Our guests need to be confident that the people making these products are well treated and work safely without damaging the environment around them.
We expect our suppliers to comply with our Ethical Trading Policy which reflects the principles of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), an alliance of companies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and trade unions.
The ETI promotes and improves the implementation of corporate codes of practice, which cover supply chain working conditions. Its goal is to ensure that the working conditions of workers producing for the UK market meet or exceed international labour standards.
Our policy sets out the labour standards we expect our suppliers to meet. It covers fair terms of trading, protection of children, worker health and safety, equal opportunities, freedom of association, freedom of employment, hours of work and wages. The requirements of the ETI Base Code are incorporated into our code.
In addition, all suppliers are required to ensure that either they or their own producers and manufacturers are members of the Supplier Data Ethical Exchange (SEDEX) which is a collaborative platform for companies to share ethical supply chain data including audit inspections covering labour standards, health and safety, environment and business ethics.
We are working with our key suppliers to ensure that all parties in our supply chain comply with the UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015. Our company statement outlines how the business is working to prevent slavery and human trafficking and we will do all we can within our supply chain to ensure this remains the case.
Carbon Footprint Reduction
Working closely with Carbon Statement, we have identified and targeted excess energy consumption across our estate using its iC analytics and been able to significantly reduce our carbon footprint. In addition, energy efficiency is an integral component to all new build sites and refurbished restaurants. Our sustained approach means that we are now one of the most efficient operators in the sector – a fact that has been recognised by the Hospitality Sector Carbon Reduction Forum (HSCRF).
Ensuring our waste management systems are as effective as possible, is a crucial process that we’re constantly monitoring. Our goal is to decrease the amount of waste sent to landfills across our estate, by raising employee awareness around the value of recycling and waste recovery. Through a thorough analysis of all our restaurants, and a consequent change in practices, we have been able to significantly increase our recycling and recovery rate.
We’re constantly searching for new ways in which technology can help us improve efficiency across all areas of our business – including water reduction. By researching and investing in flush wiser and flow saver systems for our toilets, we have been able to save 92,140,000 litres of water per year.
We need to do more as a sector to promote the hospitality industry as an attractive career prospect for young people. Apprenticeships provide a great platform to do this, which is why we’ve partnered with industry leading supplier, Remit Training, to deliver apprenticeships across our growing chain of restaurants.
This partnership is an important step in the development of our business and our people. We will be working with each of our brands to deliver a bespoke apprenticeship programme that will support the career development for existing staff and new recruits in kitchen, front of house and management roles.
All customer cash tips and service charges are kept by restaurant employees in full. When tips or service charge are paid for by a credit card or debit card, we take a small 2.5% administration charge to cover bank fees, before distributing the remainder in full to our employees. Tips and service charges are paid in full in addition to the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage. In practice, this means for every £1 in tips given on a credit card, our teams will keep 97.5p and 2.5p will cover credit card fees and administrations costs.
Any tips paid in cash are retained by the individual waiter. They may or may not have arrangements in place to share these tips with other employees in the restaurant and staff in the restaurant kitchen. It is the responsibility of those receiving cash tips to declare the income for tax purposes to HM Revenue & Customs. The company does not participate in any aspect of cash tips.
Big Table Group and all of its restaurant businesses fully support the British Hospitality Association (BHA) voluntary code of best practice on service charges and tips. More details of this code can be found on the BHA website.
In addition to tips, our employees benefit from 50% Employee Discount across all Big Table Brands on food and drink, Team Meals whilst on duty, savings on 100s of retailers and activities through our Employee Advantages Scheme, along with numerous incentives for our teams to benefit from.
In recognition of the excellent work our employees do across our business, we provide all employees with a number of perks and benefits. These include discount cards to restaurants, high street stores and even amusement parks. More importantly, we provide employees with access to a professional and confidential helpline, that’s available 24 hours a day, where they can gain assistance with personal issues, such as relationship, health, financial or legal advice.
We’re passionate about giving something back by using our position and resources to help the lives of others. As a company, we offer ongoing support for The Princes Trust – a UK charity founded by Prince Charles that helps young people gain employment. In addition, each brand offers individual support for a charity of its choice, which reflects the respective brands ethos and values.
We require all suppliers to have comprehensive traceability systems and be able to determine the provenance and authenticity of any product at any given time to ensure the quality, legality and safety of our food. We have also invested in intelligence systems which help us to ensure the authenticity of the ingredients we use and minimises the risk of food fraud, wherever possible.
Food safety is paramount to all of our practices at Big Table Group. We’re an industry leader in the number of 4 and 5 star ratings our kitchens receive when inspected. Rather than resting on our laurels, we’ve gone one step further and introduced our own six star rating system across all our brands that reinforces industry leading practices towards food safety.
During the development of our children’s offer, we used the Children’s Food Trust guidelines and guidance from the Department of Health to create a balanced and nutritious children’s menu. We will continue to focus on further improving the nutritional value of children’s dishes focusing on keeping salt, added sugar and saturated fat to a minimum and stipulating the non-use of artificial additives including colours and flavourings. We also support the 5 a day fruit and vegetables message and offer a portion of fruit and/or vegetables wherever possible in starters, main courses and desserts.
In addition, we are putting into place a new Children’s Product Development policy to ensure that all criteria relating to nutritional content, product integrity and quality and marketing is adopted consistently by our food development teams and relevant suppliers.
Genetically Modified Foods
We do not permit the use of genetically modified ingredients, additives, flavourings or derivatives in any of our products.
Allergy Management and Dietary Requirements
All suppliers are required to provide allergy information on all products including assessment of allergy cross-contamination in line with the latest Government Food Information Regulations. As a standard, we provide allergy information on all food and drink items on our menus, websites and on request to our team members. All our team members in our restaurants are trained on how to prepare and serve food to allergy sufferers.
Current major allergens which require labelling as detailed by the FSA and EU legislation are:
We always ensure that vegetarian options are available on all menus and take all reasonable steps to maintain the vegetarian status of products during preparation and cooking. As such, additives and processing aids from animal sources are not permitted in vegetarian products. Information on the suitability of specific dishes for vegetarians are available on our brands websites and also on request in our restaurants.
We acknowledge that the number of guests who are either diagnosed with coeliac disease or who choose to follow a gluten-free diet is on the increase and have subsequently curated a menu option to cater for these special dietary requirements.
While we can provide dishes that do not have gluten-containing ingredients, we cannot guarantee that our restaurants are gluten free sites due to current operations.
We will continue to work on developing gluten-free options and are engaging with Coeliac UK to ensure that our approach is appropriate and relevant to those who have this dietary requirement.
Where ingredients or products are sold as ‘suitable for coeliacs’ we require our suppliers and restaurant teams to have the required controls in place, and that these are regularly audited to ensure full compliance with the Codex standard revised in November 2007 as laid out by the Codex Alimentarius Commission
We are committed to removing food additives wherever possible whilst maintaining food safety, quality and consumer acceptability. The inclusion of additives is always challenged and where these are deemed to meet no specific need in the product, they will be removed.
We do not permit the following additives under any circumstances: