Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement


Smiths News is a specialist distributor and a leading player in newspaper and magazine wholesaling and distribution. While our business is primarily in the UK market, we do service the specialist printed and digital media needs of airlines and travel points worldwide.

Smiths News employs around 1,950 people worldwide and has business operations, directly or indirectly, in 10 countries, principally through its international media business, Dawson Media Direct Limited.  We have registered subsidiary companies in France, Spain, Germany, USA, Hong Kong, Australia, Dubai, Belgium, Turkey and Thailand although these legal entities are currently dormant.

Smiths News has a global annual turnover of c£1.4bn. To find out more about the nature of our business, please see our website at:

Our Anti-Slavery Position

Smiths News is fully committed to preventing acts of modern slavery and human trafficking from occurring within our businesses as well as our supply chains, and we impose the same standards on our suppliers as we apply to ourselves.  We take a zero-tolerance approach to non-ethical practices and we are committed to acting professionally, fairly and with integrity in all our business dealings and supply chain relationships, wherever we operate, implementing and enforcing effective systems to uphold ethical standards and to combat modern slavery and human trafficking.

“Modern Slavery” for us means the exploitation of people who have been forced, deceived, or coerced into a life of labour and servitude, including human trafficking. Management, staff and suppliers are alert to the risks of modern day slavery and we have a reporting line to bring any concerns to the attention of management who will act on all reports.

We expect anyone who has any suspicions of modern slavery in our business or our supply chain to raise their concerns without delay. We will keep any information provided completely confidential.

Smiths News’s Structure and Role in the Supply Chain

Our Structure

Smiths News is the UK's largest newspaper and magazine wholesaling business with an approximate 55% market share. We distribute newspapers and magazines on behalf of the major national and regional publishers, delivering to approximately 25,500 customers across England and Wales on a daily basis.

Dawson Media Direct supplies newspapers, magazines and inflight entertainment technology and content to over 80 airlines in 50 countries. Delivering to strict time windows with security accreditation, DMD serves the specialist needs of airlines and travel points in the UK and worldwide with printed and digital media.

Outsourcing: In 2019/20 we established an outsourced finance, IT and customer experience function in India, with a specialist outsource service provider. As one of our core partners, our outsource service provider is committed to ensuring our standards and ethics are applied across our whole business and thus subscribes to our policies and procedures, specifically as applied to the prevention of modern slavery. A comprehensive due diligence process was undertaken with the outsource service provider prior to the conclusion of our agreement and they were found to robustly support an anti-modern slavery stance in line with best practice. We have a dedicated team of professional people situated in India with a Smiths News branded facility which meets our requirements, including in respect of health and safety standards. Senior management regularly visits the site and has oversight of the facility and direct engagement with the staff. We regularly carry out both internal and external audits of our overseas operations from a health & safety, colleague welfare, fit for purpose facilities and policies and compliance perspective.

Our Operating Model

We operate one of the fastest supply chains, seven days a week, deliverying, collecting and processing returns across a fragmented customer base. The vast majority of our collections and deliveries are completed before 6.30am operating out of 39 depots. This requires a dedicated workteam of shift, contract and part-time workers. We acknowledge that this type of work has an inherent Modern Slavery risk to which we are alert.

We carefully monitor the sources of our workforce and our employment policies support the individuals’ right to offer their services in exchange for a fair wage. Due to the nature of the business we have a number of contracted and/or temporary workers. We have strict policies and processes to regulate how we deal with both recruitment agencies for the supply of temporary resource and independent service providers (ISPs) who provide composite delivery services across the business with the focus on an individual’s right to work in the relevant jurisdiction and ensure fair and transparent payment practices. We adhere to the minimum wage provisions and additional provisons applicable to night workers in respect of maximum weekly working hours and rest breaks.


As part of our commitment to combating modern slavery, we have implemented the policies listed below. We have also initiated a Policy Steerco which consists of key functional team representation from across our business to help monitor industry and legal developments, share best practice and explore methods of communication and training.  This Policy Steerco ensures that our policies are regularly reviewed and updated where necessary. We have a process of communicating our policies (new and revised) to ensure all of our workforce are properly informed, including adopting web based induction processes and refresher training.

  • Ethical Trading Policy;
  • Procurement Policy and Supplier Code;
  • Dignity at Work Policy;
  • Code of Business Conduct;
  • Anti-Bribery Policy;
  • Anti-Fraud Policy;
  • Whistleblowing Policy;
  • Open Door Policy.

We also make sure that our suppliers are aware of our key policies and Code of Business Conduct through our procurement portal’s “supplier zone”, and we encourage them to adhere to the same high standards, including ensuring that they hold their own suppliers to the same standards. These policies have been developed and adopted by Smiths News in order to ensure that we conduct all business in an honest and ethical manner.

Governance, Risk and Compliance

Our Governance

We recognise that Modern Slavery is not something that only happens elsewhere and note that the UK Government estimates there are tens of thousands of people in slavery in Britain today with  UK nationals making up the biggest group of potential victims.

At an operational level, the nature and extent of our exposure to the risk of Modern Slavery occurring in our business, as well as our supply chains, is periodically reviewed.  However, a formal  risk assessment process is being developed and implemented  by our employee relations team, our procurement team, and our sub-contractor management team under the direction of senior management. The Executive Team and our Board of Directors exercise overall oversight and responsibility.


We have acquired and are implementing a policy compliance training module which includes a dedicated Modern Slavery element, and we look to educate our staff to recognise the risks of modern slavery and human trafficking in our business and supply chains. Through such education programmes and ad hoc monitoring of suppliers, employees are encouraged to identify and report any potential breaches of this anti-slavery and human trafficking policy (or any other policy).

We strongly believe that we should work with suppliers in a collaborative manner and that it will not benefit marginalised and “at risk” people if we simply terminated suppliers where concerns are identified. We believe in constructive engagement through education and training programmes, coupled with capacity building, both internally and within our supply chains, to identify and address any problem. As part of this approach, we will look to support “at risk groups” identified within our supply chain wherever possible and to ensure they are made aware of their rights and provided with the necessary support structures to limit the scope for abuse. While we recognise the reputational dangers of non-compliance within our supply chains we believe that it is more beneficial to work for change and improvement rather than removing a supplier and leaving the abuse unresolved.

Concluding Remarks

This statement has been approved by the Smiths News PLC Board of Directors and is made in accordance with Section 54(1) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and constitutes Smiths News's modern slavery and human trafficking statement for the 2020 financial year (1 Sept. 2019 – 29 Aug. 2020).

We will include in the directors’ report accompanying our Annual Report a reference to the Company’s Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement, which will be presented on our PLC website post the year end. This statement will also be available on our PLC website at

Archived versions of this statement:

Modern Slavery Statement - September 2020 - Archived 

Modern Slavery Statement - August 2019 - Archived

Modern Slavery Statement - August 2018 - Archived

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