► ResponsibilityRealise people's potential

Our five shared values are: we aim higher, we champion fresh ideas, we are agile, we are united, we respect and encourage one another. These give us a common framework for decision-making and guide the way we do things things.

This year, we have undertaken work to identify which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) we can make an impact on and mapped them to our responsibility strategy:

Alignment to UN SDGs

We want all of our colleagues to realise their full potential and contribute to creating an environment where everyone can succeed. From providing bespoke training opportunities, to encouraging diversity and promoting an inclusive workplace, to supporting our colleagues’ physical and mental health – we are committed to creating a rewarding and enjoyable place to work.

Our KPIs

Attracting talent and developing skills:
  • Support and develop graduates and apprentices to progress their career with us.
  • Provide extensive training opportunities to our colleagues via online platforms.
  • Promote our industry through collaboration with the IGD.
Diversity and Inclusion (D&I):
  • Monitor and report on D&I to understand and remove potential blocks.
  • Deliver face-to-face training and ongoing support to all leaders within our business by March 2020.
  • Provide awareness training to all colleagues by the end of 2021.
Caring for our people:
  • Embed a culture of risk prevention at all sites with our ‘Be Safe’ and TOPs health and safety programmes.
  • Deliver annual Health and Well-being plans at our sites aligned to the top three areas of interest of our colleagues.
  • Increase awareness of good mental health by providing training to all colleagues by 2021.

Attracting talent and developing skills

When we welcome colleagues into our business – no matter at what level – we help them develop the confidence and skills to move up the career ladder.
Our apprenticeship and graduate programmes feed a future pipeline of skilled individuals for roles across our business, offer fantastic career prospects and career progression for existing colleagues.

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Our ‘Future Leader’ graduate programme provides an excellent foundation for a career in the food and drink industry and enables us to harness and nurture emerging talent. We offer four distinct programmes - within our commercial (sales and marketing), finance, procurement and IT teams. During their programme, our graduates also typically undertake three placement roles and participate in a series of external training modules designed to help them develop core business skills including commercial awareness, presenting, and managing change.

We recruited 66 graduates over the five-year period 2015-19 and almost 70% have remained with us to progress their career within Premier Foods. Most recently in 2019, 100% of our largest so far intake, 19 graduates, remained at Premier Foods to pursue their careers.

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Apprenticeships are one of the most practical ways for people to learn, enabling them to develop and hone new knowledge and skills whilst remaining in paid employment. We offer apprenticeships to both existing colleagues and new recruits, with programmes ranging from technical operators, food technologists, software development, continuous improvement and beyond. Our programmes cover all levels of prior experience, meaning they are a truly inclusive route to career progression. This year, we have supported the training and development of 95 apprentices; 26 were new recruits to the business, with the remainder recruited from existing colleagues. We are proud that we remained in the top 100 table of Apprentice Employers for the third year running!

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We invest in self-led learning tools, including LinkedIn Learning for all IT-enabled colleagues, which offers access to over 7,000 on-line courses. Since its launch in November 2018, more than 600 colleagues (out of our 1,500 connected colleagues) activated their accounts and 40% have participated in online learning. With over 27,000 training videos watched to date, we have seen our colleagues make use of LinkedIn Learning for more than 1,260 hours of learning which equates to 168 working days. Meanwhile, our leadership programmes equip our leaders with practical skills and tools to enable them to lead the business with authenticity and integrity.


Fairness and equality of opportunity

We strongly believe that diversity of people fosters diversity of thought, which is vital with innovation at the heart of our business strategy.

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We are committed to developing an inclusive culture across our whole organisation, and this means all colleagues and potential recruits are treated with respect, valued and encouraged to give their best at all times. Our Diversity and Equality policy statement, approved by the Board in 2017, sets out our approach to equal opportunities and our ambition to address discrimination at work. Our diversity working group monitors progress against key areas of this statement and reports annually to the Board.

Rather than focusing on setting specific targets for diversity (gender and ethnicity), our focus remains to understand where issues arise, monitor and remove potential blocks, while seeking to improve processes and training.

In 2019, we embarked on a company-wide Diversity and Inclusion programme. This led to us holding full-day training sessions, focusing on raising the awareness of unconscious bias and inclusive leadership for our mid to senior level leaders: a total of 263 managers attended nine workshops and, in addition, we ensured that our in-house recruitment team and external agencies were fully engaged in the objectives of the programme. This represents an important first stage of our commitment to a long-term programme, which we are continuing to develop and expand to support our strategy.

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We have monitored and published our gender diversity statistics since 2011 and a key target of our diversity agenda has been to improve female representation in middle and senior management. We continue to address this through further improvements in recruitment, talent management, flexible working and maternity provision, as well as line manager education and development.

Current legislation requires that we report on our gender pay gap for any legal entities that employ more than 250 colleagues. We have decided to go beyond this and monitor the gender pay gap for all entities within the Group, as we believe it depicts a truer picture. Our latest results are as follows:
We have made progress on closing the gender pay gap, going from a 12% average difference in hourly pay between our male and female population, to a 6% difference.

Our full gender pay gap report is available here.

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Within our organisation, approximately 90% of our workforce is employed at our manufacturing sites, where roles attract more men than women and labour turnover is low. This makes it difficult to significantly improve these results in the short to medium term. To address the skills gap faced by our industry in critical areas including Science, Technology Engineering and Manufacturing (STEM) based roles, we continue to play an active part in driving awareness of our sector, and promoting the breadth of career opportunities that exist within it. We work in partnership with the IGD to support their Feeding Britain’s Future schools campaign, and this year Premier Foods’ volunteers took part in 30 workshops at schools to drive awareness of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) roles. We also participate in the IGD’s Schools Programme initiative, with the majority of our sites actively supporting local schools to provide skills training, for example CV writing, confidence building and interview tips.

Caring for our colleagues

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Health and Safety is taken extremely seriously at all levels throughout the business, and we are proud to maintain one of the lowest accident rates within the food industry.

This year, we successfully completed the roll-out of our ‘Be Safe’ programme across all manufacturing sites, which encourages colleagues to identify and discuss both safe and unsafe actions within their workplace. In the last 12 months, colleagues have identified a total of 4,487 Safe Acts and 2,824 Unsafe Acts. This helps our manufacturing sites to target their resources and improve safety in the most effective areas. The Total Observation Process (TOP) continues to be successful in identifying hazards in the workplace and ensuring they are addressed before an incident can occur. In the last 12 months, 4,236 potential risks were identified and actions taken to address these across the business.

In February 2020 our Safety Management System was reviewed and transitioned across from the British standard OHSAS 18001, to the international health and safety norm ISO 45001. Next year, all sites will be audited and certificated to this standard.

The Board reviews health and safety performance at every scheduled Board meeting. This includes two important measures: Lost Time Accidents (‘LTA’), which represent accidents that result in a colleague having to take time off work; and Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (‘RIDDOR’) where incidents are reported to the regulatory body. This covers accidents resulting in serious injury, over seven days absence from work and dangerous occurrences.

Across the UK, the average RIDDOR rate for the food manufacturing industry is 0.51 RIDDOR reportable accident per 100,000 hours worked. We operate at a significantly better rate and our goal is to sustain or improve upon this average. In the last 12 months we are proud to have achieved a rate of 0.06, almost 10 times better than the industry average.

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We continue to make every effort to look after the health and well-being of our colleagues. Through our dedicated Occupational Health team, we provide professional specialist advice to colleagues on the effects of work on their health. We advise our colleagues on ways to improve physical and psychological well-being within the workplace and provide them with strategies to prevent illness and injury. Last year we invited all colleagues to take part in our first ever Health Needs Assessment survey, achieving a strong response rate. This enabled us this year to start developing Health and Well-being plans, tailored to the needs of our colleagues. This has included partnering with local gyms and community groups to put health checks in place.

Leveraging our charity partnership with Mind UK, and as signatories of the Time to Change pledge, we have put a strong focus on how to best support our colleagues’ mental health. Our goal is to have at least two volunteers per site trained and certified as Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs). This year, 36 colleagues across five sites have been on their training and are now certified MHFAs. We believe that mental health awareness is key to supporting our colleagues’ well-being and will train all colleagues in mental health awareness by the end of 2021. As a first step, managers across the business will receive training to identify and help colleagues suffering with mental health issues. Out of our 495 managers, 216 have been trained so far. The next steps are to complete the training of all managers before extending the awareness training to all colleagues.



Our Case Studies

Apprenticeship Programme

Hear from our Apprentices

Apprenticeships can prove one of the most practical ways for people to learn, enabling them to develop and hone new knowledge and skills whilst remaining in paid employment. We offer apprenticeships to both existing colleagues and new recruits, with programmes ranging from Technical Operators, Food Technologists, Software Development, Continuous Improvement and beyond. Our programmes cover all levels of prior experience, meaning they are a truly inclusive route to career progression. Since 2017, our apprenticeship schemes have supported the training and development of more than 100 colleagues.

Hear from our past and current Apprentices...

“I have worked for Premier Foods for 20 years and it is great to have the opportunity to still take part in the scheme. It means I can learn a new role while working and at the end, I will have a nationally recognised qualification. Also within food manufacturing, equipment is becoming increasingly complex so it's been great to have the chance to learn and adapt.”
(Tabrez Javaid – Machine Technical Operator Apprentice, Stoke manufacturing site)

“When I saw Premier Foods was recruiting for apprentices, I thought it was a great way for me to get a qualification while working for a well-known food manufacturer. The scheme was really good, with training and advice always available. If I needed help on shift, my colleagues were there to support me and I had a mentor for any queries around my coursework. As a result, I have gained many skills.”
(Antonia Oakley, Technical Operator Apprentice, Worksop manufacturing site)

“As part of my apprenticeship I complete basic Continuous Improvement (CI) duties on six different lines within the factory. I’m always being exposed to new elements of the business and trying out new tasks every day which has led me to have a much wider knowledge of the business than I necessarily would somewhere else.”
(Gareth Thompson – Formerly completed a Continuous Improvement Apprenticeship. Now Improvement Coordinator, Carlton manufacturing site)


Graduate Programme

Hear from our Graduates

Our Graduate Programmes provide an excellent foundation for a career in the food and drink sector and enable us to harness and nurture emerging talent. We offer four distinct programmes - within our Commercial (Sales and Marketing), Finance, Procurement and IT teams - and since 2014 have welcomed over 80 Graduates on to the programme and supported their early career development. From the moment they join us, all our Graduates embark on a two-year Graduate Development Programme. This includes a series of external training modules designed to help them develop core business skills including commercial awareness, presenting, and managing change. During their Programme, our Graduates also typically undertake three placement roles that are appropriate to their Graduate scheme. This ensures they get relevant exposure to our business before they complete the programme and have the opportunity to apply for a permanent role.

Hear from our past and current Graduates...

“Since starting the Procurement Graduate programme in 2015, I have had the opportunity to work in several different areas of procurement. I liked the fact that I was given responsibility and treated as a real part of the team straight away. Being part of a cross-functional cohort of graduates meant that I got a lot of support and this helped me to build my network throughout the business. After progressing through the procurement scheme, I decided I wanted to build my experience in another function. Premier supported me in this move and after 4 years in procurement I was able to leverage the skills and connections I had built throughout the graduate scheme to move into a new role in Category Development.”
(Naomi Spray – Category Executive within our Category Development & Shopper Marketing team. Completed 2015 Graduate Procurement programme)

“The Commercial Graduate Programme gave me exposure to various areas of the business including field sales, brand marketing and e-commerce. This in turn gave me a strong commercial understanding and knowledge of our products and retail channels. Upon completing the programme I was appointed National Account Executive for Morrisons, and within 12 months I was promoted to National Account Manager for the Quick Meals, Snacks and Soups category where I was responsible for managing and delivering the joint business plan with full P&L responsibility. To widen my experience I subsequently moved into Commercial Planning on Home Baking, more recently being promoted to Commercial Planning Manager for the Quick Meals, Snacks and Soups category - a role I've been able to hit the ground running with on account of my sales experience of the category. The icing on the cake was to be nominated by the business for the Rising Star award at the 2019 Food and Drink Federation (FDF) Awards, which I went onto win.”
(Jessica Kelly – Commercial Planning Manager for the Quick Meals, Snacks and Soups Category. Completed 2015 Commercial Graduate programme)

“I joined the Finance Graduate Scheme in September 2018 and from the first day you really do hit the ground running. My first rotation was within Commercial Finance, business partnering the internal Waitrose, Ocado, Amazon and Co-Op teams. The support that Premier gives you is incredible, with so much to learn and get involved in. My first rotation allowed me add value to discussions and negotiations by providing financial analysis and challenging the norms. My second rotation is a newly created rotation in Premier’s shared service centre (PBS) in Manchester. I pushed to make this a rotation due to the valuable knowledge I knew I would gain from invoicing, SG&A to product costing and how vital these components are to the success of the business as a whole. Premier Foods sponsors all Finance graduates to become chartered, giving you the choice between ACA, ACCA or CIMA. They fully fund everything from exams to college whilst also giving you a generous amount of study days off per exam. Additionally, one of the best things about the graduate scheme for me is the level of support you receive, as you are given a Buddy, a Mentor and a Line Manager. This allows you to learn from others to develop professionally."
(Jasprit Singh – joined 2018 Financial Graduate programme)