Corporate Responsibility

We want WHSmith to be successful, but in the right way.

Through our Corporate Responsibility (CR) Programme, we tackle the social and environmental issues that touch our business.

The Programme is divided into four key areas: Marketplace, Environment, Workplace and Community. Each area is home to a number of initiatives. Our approach is shaped by the views of our stakeholders, whom we consult regularly. The Group Board monitors the CR strategy, ensuring it is being implemented as planned and approves targets for the year ahead. The management of social and environmental matters is embedded in day-to-day operations across the business.

You can find further information in our full CR Report.

If you’d like to gain a deeper understanding of what it’s like to work at WHSmith and how we support our people, click the following links. You can learn more About Us, understand Why WHSmith is the right place for you, or gain more insight into our Benefits or the training available via our Learning & Development programmes.

  • Customers


    Our customers are incredibly important to us. The independent Customer Satisfaction Monitor assesses the helpfulness of staff, time spent queuing, store cleanliness, tidiness and other key factors. We take the results very seriously and listen carefully to customers’ feedback on products too. We’re also committed to responsible advertising. We follow the WHSmith Marketing Code of Practice, making sure that the products we sell are safe, fit for purpose, up to legal standards and are not described in a misleading manner, particularly when marketing to children. When it comes to food, we want to provide healthy choices. To this end, we’ve launched the ‘Eat Better’ range of salads and sandwiches.

  • Ethical Trading & Human Rights

    Ethical Trading & Human Rights

    We are committed to good labour standards and respect for the environment in our supply chain, and our Ethical Trading Code of Conduct and Human Rights Policy outlines what we expect of our suppliers. To check that these expectations are observed, our Supplier Audit team undertakes regular factory audits to monitor labour standards. We also have systems in place to monitor and manage the risks around modern slavery within our supply chain and our workforce.

    WHSmith is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), an alliance of companies, trade unions and non-governmental organisations that promote respect for workers’ rights around the world. Together, we’ve agreed a new strategic plan for ethical trade, focusing on labour standards. Objectives include improving factory health & safety, worker representation, and providing confidential hotlines so workers can report concerns about labour standards.

    Find out more information about our Ethical Trade programmes and projects.

  • Forest Sourcing

    Forest Sourcing

    Paper-based products are core to our business and we are committed to ensuring that they come from sustainably managed sources. As of 31st August 2015, 69% of the own-brand stationery units we sold were made from timber from certified or recycled sources and we want to increase this figure to 95% by 2020. At the same time, we aim to make our forest sourcing work visible to customers by labelling own-brand stationery products with the Forest Stewardship Council.

    Here you can find out more information on our Forest Sourcing work.

  • Environment


    We are committed to reducing the environmental impact of our business, and we measure performance each year.

    The energy used to light and heat our stores, distribution centres and offices is the greatest contributor to our carbon footprint and also represents a significant cost to the business. As a result, we continually look for ways to reduce the amount of energy we use. Since 2007, we have reduced our CO2e emissions per square foot from stores and distribution centres by almost 41%. We have achieved this by installing LED lights and putting timers on fridges to reduce energy wastage. Meanwhile, our new transport management system is providing real-time data to monitor driver behaviour.

  • Health & Safety

    Health & Safety

    Keeping customers and employees safe and well is a priority. The management team, supported by professional safety advisers, monitor key safety performance indicators. An annual report detailing trends, performance and recommendations is presented to the WHSmith Board. The business also has a Health & Safety Committee that comprises of representatives and professional health & safety advisers. The Group Safety team provides an on-going training programme for staff in stores, covering key issues such as fire safety, manual handling and slips, trips and falls.

    Here is a copy of our Health & Safety at Work Policy.

  • Community


    WHSmith is a valued member of communities across the UK, and we are committed to making a positive impact wherever we operate our stores. We have a target to invest £10m in local community and charity projects in the decade to 2020.

    We also support Business in the Community’s High Street Champions programme, which has identified 25 towns where high street regeneration is most needed. To help us celebrate those store teams which have built strong links with local communities, we have the WHSmith Community Awards.

  • Charities


    We’re all for fundraising – by our people and our customers. The WHSmith Group Charitable Trust supports employees that are involved with local charitable organisations, and our store teams are active in their communities.

    Meanwhile, our Charity Christmas cards continue to be popular with customers, raising valuable funds for our charity partners. In 2015 we expanded our range, increasing the charity donations by 54% year-on-year.

    2016 also saw a new fundraising initiative, supporting Marie Curie, called the ‘Big Readcycle’. Through this scheme, over 30,000 pre-loved books were donated to the charity.

    Our latest initiative is a fund for community grants. This will be open to members of the public who are looking for funding for a charity or school in their local community.

    Here you can read more information on our community investment activities.

  • Supporting Literacy

    Supporting Literacy

    As Britain’s leading bookseller and stationer, literacy remains the primary focus of our community programmes.

    One of our most important initiatives is the three-year literacy project with the National Literacy Trust. This aims to use peer learning to change the literacy culture in 25 schools in deprived areas. To date, 5,000 children have taken part, earning badges and certificates as ‘peer reading champions’. The schools also partner with their local WHSmith store which hosts class visits and displays the children’s book reviews. We’re delighted that the project is already making an impact, with 73% of all participating children reading more frequently, and 91% of teachers observing better overall reading attainment than expected.

    Our Schools Giveaway is another great initiative, designed to help local schools build their library resources. Over 160 High Street stores took part in 2016, with each store receiving WHSmith vouchers to donate to one or more local schools.

  • Waste Management

    Waste Management

    Our High Street stores all operate recycling systems and manage to recycle around 93% of waste. As we expand our food offer within our Travel business, we’re working with our suppliers to minimise food waste through improved forecasting and markdown policies.

    The carrier bag levies, now in place across the UK, also means that less plastic bags are entering the environment. WHSmith donates the proceeds from the compulsory bag charges to a number of charitable causes including Shelter and the Woodland Trust.

    For more information on our approach to environmental management, click here