I’ve just come back from Northern Ireland where I was attending and speaking at the Business in the Community’s first Summit there. I also spent time in store and talking to colleagues. The Summit was excellent and spoke to the role that business must play in helping to make a difference, particularly in these current challenging times. Northern Ireland’s economy in particular is not recovering as fast as the rest of the UK and youth unemployment is rising.

I was asked by BBC Radio our views on our role and gave a quick interview alongside Mike Barry of M&S. I love to collaborate with other companies as together we can make the most difference even if our view on making sustainability affordable and accessible is different to how M&S see themselves. Mike’s a great guy. You can hear the clip below:

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Posted by Julian on 22 October 2012

Barry Williams is the top man for food at Asda, what we call the Chief Merchandising Officer for Food. Here’s someone truly driven by helping people to save money whilst delivering ‘Value with Values’. He gave me a challenge a while back to closer support him and his teams to become more sustainable. I love a challenge and this led to the creation of the Asda Sustain & Save Exchange.

Back in January I described how we were engaging with 2degrees to trial an innovative tool to help our suppliers become more sustainable, save cash and become closer strategic partners. Well this has been a phenomenal success.

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Posted by Julian on 15 October 2012

The Grocer has just released its green edition. This contains a series of articles on what retailers and brands are doing to become greener as well as rankings made by an independent consultancy.

We were ranked the 3rd greenest supermarket behind M&S and Sainsbury’s and ahead of Tesco, The Co-Op and Morrisons. If you factor in the big brands we also came ahead of the likes of Unilever, Coke, PepsiCo and Kraft amongst others. I’m happy with this result because I also know it doesn’t take into account new goals we will be announcing later this year in two key areas of our sustainability strategy. Really well done to all my colleagues that their work has got us to this achievement.

Posted by Julian on 02 October 2012

We had a really, really interesting day this Tuesday. Kathryn organised a visit to New Britain Palm Oil’s refinery in Liverpool. She invited Sarah and me to come along to see the facility and to hear about their aspirations and plans.

Kathryn and Sarah

They are supplying the gold standard of palm oil at the moment – Segregated Sustainable Palm Oil (SG CSPO) – out of Papua New Guinea. For me this really built on the superb visit that I had to AAK’s Hull facility last year.

When I got back home the Walker-Palin family asked me about my day and all I could think was “really positive” but also that this is a really difficult but key global issue that Asda is tackling along with our Walmart colleagues – read more. We have developed bold plans to help lead the global debate that I should be able to announce really soon. Watch this space…

My thanks to Adam Thomas, the New Britain Palm Oil Technical Manger, who facilitated our visit for his insight and passion for sustainable palm oil. He made it a superb visit for all of us.

And my apologies to Sarah and Kathryn for taking a picture of them wearing protective clothing. I was happily behind the camera……

Posted by Julian on 10 August 2012

This is the second year that I’ve offered a paid internship in my team. I’m really keen to do this as I know how hard it can be to get a job without relevant work experience. It’s also a great way to bring new views and ideas into the team for a while.

Last year Ellie joined the team and then moved on to a great position with DHL. This year we have Kathryn with us until November. She’s mainly focussing on supporting the Walmart global palm oil project.

She’s filmed a few thoughts above.

Posted by Julian on 02 August 2012