University of Bath School of Management University of Bath School of Management

New research project explores sustainability of Waitrose's supply chain

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Stephen Pavelin

The School’s Centre for Business, Organisations and Society (CBOS) has been awarded a two-year project with Waitrose to explore and measure the environmental efficiency of its vast and complex supply chain.

The Knowledge Transfer Project (KTP) led by Professor Stephen Pavelin, Dr Tony Roath and Dr Johanne Grosvold, will undertake research with Waitrose, the UK’s fastest growing mainstream supermarket, to build a detailed description of its supply chain across a variety of metrics including inventory flow, time, distance, carbon emissions and water usage.

At the same time it will use qualitative data to understand individual buyer-supplier relationships and undertake an analysis of customers’ willingness to pay for sustainable performance.

Utilising three distinct methods – simulation, survey technique and the measurement of market demand for supply chain sustainability – this is the first time a complex supply chain model has been applied to sustainability and environmental issues in this way.

The key output of the project is the design of an analytical tool which will enable Waitrose to identify opportunities to more perfectly reflect customer concerns through improvements in environmental performance.

The analysis will reveal whether, and to what degree, customers in general, and customers with particular characteristics, demonstrate a willingness to pay a premium price for environmentally-sensitive products. This will in turn enable Waitrose to ensure any changes to the supply chain are strategically relevant.

Professor Pavelin says:
“Given the rich complexity of its supply chain, Waitrose – which has long been proactive on safeguarding the natural environment and demonstrated industry-leading positions on a number of environmental issues – is an ideal commercial partner for this research”.
Whilst the project is being carried out exclusively with Waitrose, it is expected that the toolkit will have significant impact, being rolled-out to model the environmental efficiency of supply chains much more widely.

For more information, contact Professor Stephen Pavelin.

Notes to Editors

The Centre for Business, Organisations and Society (CBOS) explores the incidence, determinants and consequences of corporate social and environmental performance in order to stimulate the more efficient and beneficial management of social issues within business organisations. Its research not only achieves academic distinction, but actively engages corporate managers, as well as practitioners in finance, government and the third sector.

Professor Stephen Pavelin is professor in Business and Society. His research explores a broad range of research questions pertaining to the business case for corporate social responsibility. Of particular interest are the effects of firms’ social performance on corporate reputation and financial performance.

Dr Tony Roath is senior lecture in International Management. His research explores understanding the dynamic capabilities which global supply chains must develop collaboratively in order to compete.

Dr Johanne Grosvold is lecturer in Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility. Her research explores corporate governance, environmental management, institutional theory and stakeholder management.

The School of Management offers a specialist MSc in Sustainability and Management. The Masters explores the challenges for managerial decision-making that arise from the strategic imperative to safeguard the sustainability of the firm and its relationships with communities, society and the natural environment.

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General Notes For Editors:

The School of Management is one of the UK's leading business schools. Currently ranked 1st for Student Experience (Times Higher Education 2015) and 1st for Business Studies (The Times & Sunday Times University Guide 2016), we are a leading centre for management research - placed 8th in the UK in the latest REF2014.

We are one of a select number of international business schools accredited by EQUIS, the European Foundation for Management Development's quality inspectorate and the Bath MBA has been accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA) since 1976.

The centrality of research to teaching is an essential feature of all our programmes. The School offers a full range of programmes from undergraduate to postgraduate up to PhD level and post-experience programmes including the world-ranked Bath MBA. The School also provides tailored executive development programmes for middle and senior management.

The School of Management has a faculty of over 100 teaching and research staff, including visiting academics, with a professional support team of around 90 managerial and administrative staff. Research income averages £2 million per annum. There are approximately 2,400 students in total comprising some 150 MBA students, over 500 Master’s students, 250 full- and part-time research students, and over 1500 undergraduates following BSc degrees.