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Direct Wines Ethical Policy

“We are very proud to have been an independent, family-owned wine merchant for nearly 50 years, and believe that one of the main reasons for our longevity is the way we do business. From the very beginning our founders, my father and mother, worked really hard to make sure that we built genuine, respectful, long term partnerships with winemakers and other suppliers and that we would always go the extra mile for our customers and our colleagues. As a family we are all very involved in the business and those values still shape the way we work today. As we move towards and beyond our 50th anniversary, my brothers and I are committed both to keeping Direct Wines as a family-owned business, and to continuing to champion the ethical principles which have served us so well.”

Henry Laithwaite


1. Introduction and Purpose

2. Scope

3. Human Rights

4. Equal Opportunities

5. Supplier Relationships and Workers’ Rights

6. The Environment & our Business

7. Bribery and Corruption

1. Introduction

As a wholly family-owned business we have an unwavering belief that it is possible to conduct our business in a way that is both commercially successful and ethically responsible. We value long term relationships over short term return and recognise the responsibility that we share with our suppliers to source products in an ethical manner.

We expect all of our suppliers to have ethical processes and policies in place throughout their supply chain.

We focus on developing long term customer relationships and always endeavour to “go the extra mile” to ensure we deliver for our customers – our “no questions asked” Money Back Guarantee is just one example of this commitment. We measure ourselves against the strictest industry benchmarks to ensure that we continue to achieve the high standards to which we aspire and our outstanding scores from the UK Institute of Customer Service and from TrustPilot reflect our success in achieving this demanding goal.

We understand that as a wine maker and alcohol retailer we have a responsibility to make customers aware of the need to drink in a responsible fashion. We give our support, both financial and in terms of time and expertise, to relevant initiatives that help and guide consumers to choose the best ways to enjoy our products, such as Drinkaware in the UK. We also take an active role in trade associations such as the WSTA to ensure that we play our part in the way that the drinks trade addresses such issues.

We want our customers to be confident that the people who work with and in our business and make our products are always treated fairly, are never exploited and are never exposed to unsafe working conditions.

Our Ethical Policy is a commitment to look after our customers, colleagues and partners and to buy and sell our products responsibly.

2. Scope

This policy applies to all of Direct Wines’ suppliers and is applicable to the supply of goods for resale and goods and/or services not for resale.

3. Human Rights

Direct Wines respects and supports the dignity, well being and human rights of our employees, the workers within our supply chain and the communities in which they live.

We are committed to respecting human rights in line with guidance from the UN principles on Business and Human Rights. We believe there are both business and moral reasons for ensuring human rights are upheld.

We make our suppliers and partners with whom we have direct contracts aware of this and expect that they share our values and align their activities with our commitments. We are fully compliant with the UK’s Modern Slavery Act and all relevant international legislation in this respect.

4. Equal Opportunities

The Company is committed to equality of opportunity for all of its employees and our employment practices, policies and procedures reflect this commitment. We go beyond our legal obligations in the treatment of our colleagues, offering flexible working, career progression, comprehensive HR benefits, generous discounts on wine and excellent working environments.

In addition to their regular salary and benefits, every permanently employed member of our team participates in a company-wide annual bonus scheme which ensures that they personally share in the success of the business.

We believe it is in the Company’s interest and good business practice to strive to establish an environment that supports the diversity of the people within the organisation, recognising their talents and ensuring that all these talents and resources are utilised to the full.

The company is committed to the promotion of equal opportunities and is opposed to any form of behaviour that treats individuals less favourably, in either a direct or indirect way, on the grounds of race, religious beliefs, disability, creed, colour, ethnic origin, nationality, marital or civil partnership, parental status, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, age or trade union membership.

The company recognises its responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 and the spirit and intent of the related Codes of Practice:

4.1. For the elimination of discrimination on grounds of sex, marital status and or civil partnership status and the promotion of equality in employment.

4.2. For the elimination of racial discrimination and the promotion of equal opportunity in employment.

4.3. For the promotion of equal employment rights for disabled people and individuals who have had a disability.

4.4. For the elimination of discrimination relating to sexual orientation or religious belief and the promotion of equal opportunity in employment.

(The above list is not exhaustive.)

This policy applies to all aspects of employment with the company, including recruitment, pay and conditions, training, appraisals, promotion, conduct at work, disciplinary and grievance procedures, and termination of employment. Where we work with agencies who provide temporary or contract staff we ensure that these agencies adhere to the same high standards and that all workers are verified as eligible to work in the UK.

Direct Wines has a duty to act in accordance with this policy, and therefore for our people to treat colleagues with dignity at all times, and not to discriminate against or harass other members of staff, whether junior or senior to them. In some situations, the Company may be at risk of being held responsible for the acts of an individual and will not therefore tolerate any discriminatory practices or behaviour.

5. Supplier Relationships and Workers’ Rights

Because we make wine as well as selling it, we understand what the challenges faced by our suppliers. We follow ethical principles in the production of our own wines and expect that our suppliers will adopt a correspondingly ethical approach.

The requirements outlined in this section are in addition to all applicable legislation and industry practice, including but not limited to regulations around child labour, working hours and minimum/living wages, and are in addition to our standard requirements for products supplied to be safe, legal and good quality.

Direct Wines expect that its business partners adhere to values and principles consistent with its own:

5.1. Business is conducted lawfully and with integrity.

5.2. Work is conducted on the basis of freely agreed terms of employment.

5.3. All workers are treated equally and with respect and dignity.

5.4. All workers are of an appropriate age.

5.5. All workers are paid a fair wage.

5.6 Working hours are reasonable.

5.7 All workers are free to exercise their right to form and/or join trade unions or to refrain from doing so and to bargain collectively.

5.8 Workers’ health and safety are protected.

Suppliers are expected to take responsibility for labour and environmental conditions under which products are made and services provided. Direct Wines will seek alternative sources where the conduct of suppliers violates basic human rights and where there is no willingness to resolve any highlighted problems.

We comply with the requirements of the UK’s Modern Slavery Act and expect that all of our suppliers, from winemakers to office supplies, are also compliant. All staff who have relevant roles are required to complete comprehensive training on the requirements of the Act.

6. The Environment

Direct Wines aims to minimise the environmental impact of its operations and within its supply chain. We endeavour to:

6.1. Seek to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions. To ensure the best operational practices possible all our Freight Forwarders are bound by the IMO (international Maritime Organisation) and SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) Treaty. Both of our main carriers are members of the Freight Transport Association.

6.2. Reduce landfill waste, as part of a plan to reduce landfill from our Gloucester Distribution Centre to 0% by the end of 2018.

6.3. Encourage re-use, recycling and the use of recycled and recyclable materials. We work with all our suppliers to encourage the supply of wine in cases that we can re-use in outbound deliveries with any additional packaging made from recycled materials. Our Gloucester Distribution Centre recycles 95% of all waste. We are members of the Packaging Recovery Compliance Scheme and ensure we have sufficient Recycling Notes to offset our usage. We also work with a local SEN School, using the recycling and repurposing of materials to support both the environment and the educational development of their pupils.

6.4. Actively avoid undue and unnecessary packaging wherever practicable.

6.5. Ensure that all forest products purchased are as a minimum legal in origin.

6.6. Ensure that suppliers must never knowingly become involved in, collude with or purchase timber from illegal logging operations.

6.7. Work to reduce energy consumption where practicable. The entire Gloucester offices and areas of our Warehouse now use LED Low Energy Lighting. We have also completed our ESOS (Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme) submission, to help identify and roll out further improvements. Our Theale office is energy neutral as all energy is provided by solar panels.

6.8. Reduce staff travel wherever practicable.

6.9. Monitor transport logistics to ensure efficient distribution.

6.10. Seek to minimise the impact of operations on fauna, flora and land to ensure the conservation of biodiversity and habitat.

6.11. Our responsibility to the environment includes being compliant with the Consumer Information Obligation and the following link offers advice and guidance for householders to become more environmentally friendly by looking at the traditional waste hierarchy principles of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

7. Bribery and Corruption

Direct Wines is committed to maintaining the highest standards and promotion of good practice in the prevention of bribery, corruption and malpractice.

All Direct Wines staff and all agents, contractors, joint venture and consortia partners and other third parties who perform services in association with or on Direct Wines' behalf (“Associated Third Parties”) are expected to conduct business legally, ethically and with the highest levels of integrity.

Bribery or corruption of any kind in any jurisdiction, regardless of local custom or practice, is strictly prohibited. We ensure that all staff have appropriate training in this area and have a confidential whistle blowing process to support the reporting of any potential transgressions. Reports on whistle-blowing activity and bribery are included in the monthly reporting to the board.