British Furniture Manufacturers

New partnership offers BFM members an ethical ‘health check’

31 January 2024

British Furniture Manufacturers (BFM) has unveiled a new partnership at the January Furniture Show, which gives its members a cost effective route to tracking ethical compliance.

The Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) is a comprehensive social compliance audit available to BFM member companies at a discounted rate via new partner Verisio.

The audit is based on International Labor Organization (ILO) standards and the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) base code, which is used by Verisio’s auditors across the globe.

Leon Reed, CEO and founder of Verisio, explains more about the SMETA audit in an upcoming episode of BFM’s Industry Matters podcast, recorded at the January Furniture Show.

He said: “The SMETA audit is a really good way to health check a business.

“Our service operates across industries, in both manufacturing and retail, and we have conducted many factory audits for furniture suppliers both in the UK and globally.

“We have auditors across Europe, Asia and Brazil who are working to the same standards, but also understanding the local legislation, while looking at management systems, examining the documentation and conducting worker interviews.”

The SMETA audit can be adapted to cover the two pillars of labour standards and health and safety, or all four pillars which also include environmental standards and business ethics.

BFM Managing Director, Phil Spademan said: “By partnering with Verisio, we are taking a consistent approach that sets a standard for the industry as a whole.

“Many of our manufacturing members can use the same test for their suppliers, so it works for all members from retail to full manufacturer to associate member.

“This partnership also takes some of the cost out of ethical audits, which more and more retailers are expecting to see.

“What we’re aiming for is a standard that has been informed by manufacturers and retailers, so everyone agrees what that audit should look like and our members can just do one test, rather than doing several tests and repeating things, which costs more.”

BFM Member, One-Call Furniture, also features in the up-coming podcast after undergoing a SMETA audit with Verisio.

Director Paul James said: “We really want to be working with furniture retailers on this initiative so we have an agreed Gold Standard for audits in the furniture industry, conducted by a BFM partner, which will ultimately reduce the need for different retailers requesting us to conduct audits using different audit companies. 

“The whole process is a real validation for what we believe and gives our customers and prospective customers confidence that not only do we have well designed product, great service and pricing, but our behind the scenes functions are also up to the high standards our customers expect.”

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