Social, community and human rights

NEXT is committed to the principles of responsible business. This means addressing key business related social, ethical and environmental matters in a way that aims to bring value to all of its stakeholders, including customers and shareholders. Continuous improvement lies at the heart of NEXT's approach and is achieved by acting in an ethical manner, developing positive relationships with suppliers, recruiting and retaining successful and responsible employees, taking responsibility for our impact on the environment and through contributions to charities and community organisations.

NEXT has a Corporate Responsibility ("CR") forum of 15 senior managers and directors representing key areas of the business to develop and implement strategy. The forum identifies potential issues and opportunities and evaluates the success of NEXT's response. The CR Manager holds regular updates with the executive director responsible for CR.

A third party provides independent assurance on the Group's CR report which is published on the Company's website each year. Commitment to CR matters is recognised externally by its membership of the FTSE4Good Index Series.

Suppliers

In common with other retailers, NEXT's product supply chain is both diverse and dynamic. Last year, NEXT used over 500 third party suppliers with products manufactured across some 40 countries. The challenge of trading ethically and acting responsibly towards the workers within our own and our suppliers' factories is a key priority. NEXT is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative and operates its Code of Practice ("COP"), an established set of ethical trading standards, as an integral part of its operations. The NEXT COP has ten key principles that stipulate the minimum standards with which suppliers are required to comply in relation to workers' rights and conditions of work including working hours, minimum age of employment, health, safety, welfare and environmental issues. NEXT seeks to ensure all products bearing the NEXT brand are produced in a clean and safe environment and in accordance with all relevant laws.

NEXT is committed to its supplier audit and management programme and has a COP audit team of 45 staff (2013: 44) which carried out more than 1,500 factory audits last year. The COP team works directly with suppliers to identify and address causes of non-compliance. Each audited factory is measured against the COP's six tier rating system and the supplier is made aware of its rating and what is required to improve via a corrective action plan. This direct approach allows NEXT to build knowledge and understanding in local communities and monitor suppliers through its auditing process.

Human Rights

NEXT is committed to upholding all basic human rights and welcomes the implementation of the United Nations' Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights. Our supplier COP reflects relevant international labour conventions. Where NEXT employees are based in countries with recognised concerns over human and labour rights, as determined by the FTSE4Good Index, all employees are specifically required to uphold the Declaration of Human Rights and the ILO Core Conventions and receive annual training to ensure their understanding of those principles.

Customers

NEXT is committed to offering stylish, excellent quality products to its customers, which are well made, functional, safe and are sourced in a responsible manner. NEXT works closely with buyers, designers and suppliers to ensure NEXT products comply with all relevant legislation and its own internal standards where these are higher. The expertise of independent safety specialists for clothing, footwear, accessories, beauty and home products is used where required.

NEXT endeavours to provide a high quality service to its customers, whether they are shopping through its stores, catalogues or website. These different ways of shopping must be easily accessible for all customers and be responsive to their needs.

NEXT Customer Services interacts with Retail and Directory customers to resolve enquiries and issues. Findings are recorded and the information is used by other areas of the business to review how a product or service can be improved.

Health and safety

NEXT recognises the importance of health and safety and its management is designed to contribute to business performance. Policies and procedures are reviewed and audited regularly to make safety management more robust and current.

The Group's objective is to manage all aspects of its business in a safe manner and take practical measures to ensure that its activities and products do not harm the public, customers, employees or contractors. Procedures exist to enable two way communication and consultation about health, safety and welfare issues in order to achieve a high level of safety awareness.

Community

NEXT supports a wide range of charities and organisations, and provided the following financial support during the year:

2014
£000
2013
£000
Registered charities945911
Individual requests, local and national groups and organisations115110
Commercial support12083

This support was supplemented by the following additional activities:

2014
£000
2013
£000
NEXT charity events34182
Gifts in kind – product donations1,6132,187
Charity linked sales363357
Employee fundraising3722

No donations were made for political purposes (2013: nil).