Wates Group - Reshaping Tomorrow

The Asda Enterprise Growth Award, Highly Commended, 2015

By buying services, skills and goods from social enterprises, Wates Group is supporting communities, and has spent a total of £5 million in the social enterprise sector since 2010.

What the judges thought

  • The programme pushed sector boundaries and challenged the sector.
  • There was clear company-wide endorsement and championing of the programme.
  • The initiative can be replicated throughout the sector.

Social and business impacts

  • The programme supported social, economic and environmental change by investing in communities.
  • A sustainable trading revenue stream has been provided to social enterprises.
  • Wates’ customers, supply chain and the construction industry are being encouraged to support local economies by opening access to social enterprises.
  • Wates’ brand and reputation has been strengthened.
  • The programmes helped the company win work, particularly within public sector (60% of Wates’ turnover).
  • The programme has enabled Wates to build a more diverse and resilient supply chain.

Wates Group logoWates is working to transform the communities in which it operates by raising aspirations and skills and creating local job opportunities. As part of this, the construction company is building a responsible supply chain by procuring social enterprises to deliver services, skills or goods.

Bringing social enterprises into the supply chain

The Social Value Act 2012 states that public bodies must now consider how the services they commission might improve the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of an area. With 60% of Wates’ turnover in the public sector, it is in a good position to help its clients meet these requirements.

By trading with social enterprises, which are heavily concentrated in the UK’s most deprived communities, Wates also enables its clients to deliver economic, social and environmental benefits. Social enterprises create local employment opportunities, especially for those disadvantaged in the jobs market. Around 66% of social enterprises actively recruit staff locally and 52% employ people who are disadvantaged in the labour market.

The company has set up Social Enterprise Brokerage, a bespoke online directory of approved social enterprise suppliers, which is an industry first. This is managed by by Social Enterprise UK (SEUK), Wates’ strategic partner and the national membership body for the sector. Social enterprises must satisfy the company’s procurement requirements to become an approved supplier. This ensures parity, consistency and quality.

Wates stands out with new job-creating contracts

In 2014, Wates traded £500,000 with a network of 40 social enterprises across 50% of its construction projects, across the UK. This was a 58% increase in spend on the previous year. Since 2010, it has traded £5 million with the sector, which has contributed to the creation of an estimated 250 jobs and created a sustainable revenue stream to social enterprises, helping Wates to fulfil its purpose.

In total, the company has introduced over 60 social enterprise businesses into its national supply chains, establishing new contracts and partnerships. This has both strengthened the supply chain and differentiated the company from competitors in the bid process.

In 2014, Wates secured a £10 million project with Stevenage Council, with a clear commitment to work with social enterprises. The programme has also improved the company’s brand and reputation, winning the Market Builder category at the 2013 Social Enterprise UK awards.

What Wates Group's CEO said:                                                                                                              

“Through our Reshaping Tomorrow programme, we are working with colleagues, customers, partners and suppliers to drive the change that is needed to deliver sustainable buildings and flourishing communities. Reshaping Tomorrow is a vision that will guide Wates to 2020 and beyond and builds upon our core values of performance, intelligence, teamwork, integrity and, in particular, respect for people and communities. Our vision is to boost local employment opportunities through a £20 million cumulative investment into the social enterprise sector by 2020.” - Andrew Davies, CEO