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Making Sustainability Part of the Plan

In the busy world of pubs, bars, cafés and hospitality in general, moves are afoot towards embracing the ethics that surround all aspects of introducing sustainability into the blueprint of the business.

After all, increasing numbers of your existing and prospective customers are likely to be ethical buyers who are discerning in what they buy and the environment in which they spend their time.

Pubstuff Ltd, are leading suppliers of new and recycled furniture to the pub, bar, hotel, café and hospitality industry and are in the maelstrom of growing interest from commercial customers grasping the concept of upcycling furniture. Quite simply put, building a business around a sustainable product has led to a sustainable business for Pub Stuff.

Breathing new life into recycled products from managed houses when they refurbish, Pubstuff are able to offer a huge range of quality recycled furniture. The high quality finish and end result is achieved through careful refurbishment and attention to changing trends in the hospitality market reflected in a wide choice of fabrics, soft furnishings and furniture styles. This has come about not only because of the bite of the recession of recent years where upcycling proves a cost effective approach but it is environmentally friendly too. What could be better than calling a halt to skips filled with discarded, perfectly good furniture?

 As part of this sustainable strategy, Pubstuff has also developed a range of environmentally friendly sanitisers which have been produced without incorporating ION 5, a chemical agent that is not only harmful to the environment but also gradually destroys the veneer and finish of the tables they are used upon. They are often described as ‘hard surface’ cleaners but most owner/managers won’t realise the extent of their destructive impact on varnish.

Prolonged reliance on this as a method of cleaning results in the varnish beginning to soften and break down easily identifiable by the ‘white bloom’ or flaking or sticky varnish on the furniture.

Complementing huge stocks of recycled contract furniture, Pubstuff also commission new lines of furniture which are made from soft Rubberwood derived from latex producing trees. Latex is of course used to produce all rubber-based products that can be found around the globe.

Once the latex has been drained from the tree, after a usage of around 20+ years, the tree is considered to be waste and is felled with a new tree planted in its place. This therefore presents an opportunity to create new durable furniture using wood that will not deplete vital resources and whose sole existence is not only to produce furniture. Hence the concept of sustainability is well used by re-using something that would have otherwise gone to waste.

Rubber wood (or Hevea Brasiliensis) is a member of the maple family and is ideally suited to this purpose as it is a stable and close grain wood which means that it contains a low water content of between 8 – 10%. During the kiln drying process it is easily controlled and has very little shrinkage. This ensures minimal movement either during the manufacturing and assembly stage or as a finished product situated in a centrally heated environment or directly adjacent to a radiator.  It is not indigenous to the UK and given the demand for latex to create rubber products supplies are readily available to cope with demand.

Ian Huband, Managing Director of Pub Stuff will be talking more on making sustainability a key part of his business model at the CSRShowcase.com, 11th February 2014, Ragley Hall.

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Trust is King

Sitting in one of the education streams at the #PRShow13, I must say I was delighted to hear Sky talk about one of my favourite philosophies.

 

When it comes to CSR, it’s not what you say it’s what you do that matters. “It’s frankly an old fashioned view,” muttered Graham McWilliam, Sky Group Corporate Affairs Director, “to think that your products or services alone speak for themselves. Businesses now have to do a lot more than that to win trust”. Very wise words and Sky have followed through admirably in this vein with their Sky Academy.

 

Trust certainly is a hot topic for stakeholders nowadays when we live in an increasingly transparent society. Enquiries into phone hacking, ‘Plebgate’ and non-payment of taxes are just a few cases in point. These are instances where a reputation can turn to dust overnight, particularly if there are no evident ‘CSR credits’ in the bank!

 

Your approach to engaging with your internal and external stakeholders will be a critical part of this. If your business practices an open, honest two-way communications philosophy then the channels will already be wide open and well lubricated for when a slightly less cynical ear can be counted upon during times of crisis.

 

This is not to say all misdemeanours will be forgiven  regardless of ‘the crime’. Instead stakeholders will more readily believe you if an honest mistake has been made and openly declared.

 

Barclays recognised this after the heavy fines of 2012 rocked the bank. To an already unsympathetic audience, this was just another example of how the financial services industry appeared to have failed its stakeholders.

 

Yet for many years Barclays have actively supported UNICEF to the tune of at least £5 million per annum. To help shore up the economies of developing countries, they channelled funds to budding entrepreneurs who have now established small active businesses. Their goal was to help build healthy economies and they needed to engage in order to achieve this.

 

They hadn’t shouted about it – but should they have done? Would the time interval needed to recover the damage to their reputation through being fined have been smaller? It is an interesting concept –  and harks back to another favourite of mine- doing well by doing good.

 

Talking to stakeholders in their own language, openly, honestly, actively listening and sharing knowledge constructively are also all worthwhile deposits in the bank of trust, goodwill and ethics.

 

Terry Stafford, Community and Stakeholder Manager at HS2 will be talking about their particular goals for building engagement with stakeholders at the UK CSR & Sustainability, Ragley Hall, 11th February 2014 – see csrshowcase.com for details.