Skip to main content

In January 2021, Ethical Consumer searched Wickes' website for a cotton sourcing policy. Although the company sold a range of products which included cotton - dust sheets, work clothes, cloths. No policy could be found.

According to Anti-Slavery international (ASI) website viewed by Ethical Consumer in August 2018, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were two of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, and every year their governments forcibly mobilised over one million citizens to grow and harvest cotton. Due to the high proportion of cotton likely to have come from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and the prevalence of forced labour in its production, the company lost half a mark in the Workers Rights' category.

The Organic Trade Association website, www.ota.com, stated in July 2018 that cotton covered roughly 2.78% of global arable land, but accounted for 12.34% of all insecticide sales and 3.94% of herbicide sales. Due to the impacts of the widespread use of pesticides in cotton production worldwide the company also lost half a mark in the Pollution & Toxics category.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit pro biotech organisation, genetically modified cotton accounted for 80% of cotton grown in 2017. Due to the prevalence of GM cotton in cotton supply chains and the lack of any evidence that the company avoided it, it was assumed that some of the company's cotton products contained some GM material. As a result it lost half a mark under the Controversial Technology category.

Overall the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for its cotton sourcing policy.

Reference:

www.wickes.co.uk (4 February 2019)

In January 2021 Ethical Consumer viewed Travis Perkins plc's most recent annual report (2019). It stated that three of the company's Executive Directors received over £1 million in total compensation in 2019. The highest paid received £2.25 million.

Ethical Consumer deemed any annual amount over £1million to be excessive. The company therefore lost half a mark under Anti-Social Finance.

Reference:

Travis Perkins plc 2019 Annual Report (6 January 2021)

In January 2021 Ethical Consumer viewed Travis Perkin's list of subsidiaries in its 2019 Annual Report. This showed that the company had 7 subsidiaries in jurisdictions considered by Ethical Consumer to be tax havens at the time of writing:
BSS (Ireland) Limited in Ireland
City Investments Limited in Jersey
Toolexpert Benelux BV in Netherlands
Toolstation BV in Netherlands
Toolstation Europe BV in Netherlands
Toolstation Netherlands BV Netherlands
Travis Perkins Hong Kong Limited in Hong Kong

The subsidiaries listed in Netherlands and Ireland were considered to be serving the local population. Therefore, City Investments Limited in Jersey and Travis Perkins Hong Kong Limited in Hong Kong, which did not appear to be holding companies, were considered to be ordinary subsidiary companies for likely use of tax avoidance.

An internet search using the search terms “Travis Perkins tax policy statement country” found no country-by-country financial information or reporting (CBCR). The Travis Perkins plc website contained a link to the Group's 2020 Tax Strategy which stated "The Group seeks to protect its reputation as a responsible corporate citizen by ensuring that it acts in accordance with the letter and the spirit ofcurrent tax legislation so that it pays the right amount of tax when it falls due." This did not constitute a clear public tax statement confirming that it was this company’s policy not to engage in tax avoidance activity or to use tax havens for tax avoidance purposes. The company did not provide a narrative explanation for what each group entity located in a tax haven is for, and why it is not being used for purposes of tax minimisation.

Given that Travis Perkins plc had two ordinary subsidiaries in jurisdictions on Ethical Consumer's tax haven list and no country-by-country financial information, nor adequate policy statement and narrative explanation, the company received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies and lost a half mark under Tax Conduct.

Reference:

Travis Perkins plc 2019 Annual Report (6 January 2021)