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Minute on the clock: Ian Thomas

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Written by:
Minute on the clock: Ian Thomas

Bartlett Mitchell CEO Ian Thomas tells Amanda Afiya why the company has launched Fruitful World, a new report that captures some of the stories around its corporate, social and environmental responsibility (CSER) activity

You’ve published your first formal report. Why now?
There are so many brilliant activities, large and small, that we undertake in teams and as individuals, so we wanted to channel this in one place and measure it. ‘What’s measured is done’ is a phrase we use.

What stands out for you as part of the report?
Each of us will feel very passionately about different things. One thing we do all agree on is that we all play a role in helping to protect and enhance our society.

Whether its providing safe and clean drinking water for a village in Malawi through sales of bottled water, or supporting Soppexcca, a women’s coffee farming co-operative in Nicaragua, we can all play our part in creating a more fruitful and progressive world.

Tell us a little more about the coffee farmers
It’s a wonderful initiative started by Fatima Ismael, a very inspirational Nicaraguan lady, who developed this co-operative to empower and support female farmers. We buy our single-sourced, high grade coffee beans from them and, as well as the coffee being fantastically tasty, any profit made goes back into the community and helps to support more individuals like Fatima.

How do clients and customers feel about your CSER activity?
So much of what we do is in conjunction with our clients and customers. They can see the fruits of their labour in the report and some will include the targets in their own CSR reporting too.

I think most people appreciate that sustainability is not just about doing good but it’s also about long term profitably of a business.

Whose responsibility is CSER within Bartlett Mitchell?
We sponsor this at board level but it is now an integral part of everybody’s role. We know that our teams are really keen on sustainability and our impact on the planet – it always comes up in our engagement surveys.

We feel that’s part of the reason why we have become a leader in this space and support organisations such as the SRA in developing their sustainability frameworks for caterers.

How much of an impact will Brexit have on pricing?
Put it this way: I’m looking forward to the weather getting warmer so I can grow my own courgettes. Joking aside, the sterling devaluation has now largely been dealt with, with some impacts being absorbed through clever menu design.

While nothing is certain, we are very good at flexing in our industry so will do what we can to minimise impact on our customers.

Finally, how do you feel about the recent ruling to change the categorisation of some free range eggs – are you worried?
I think Defra’s approach is safe and responsible. Every hotel, restaurant, supermarket that has free range eggs is in the same boat so we need to ensure that consumers aren’t panicked and understand that it has been done on a precautionary basis.

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