We’re committed to the wellbeing of our communities and of the next generation – they are our future customers, colleagues and consumers. This isn’t just about looking after our own people but about being a positive presence in society, supporting equal opportunities and fair treatment for everybody.

Fair Treatment For All

Being an ethical business isn’t just a tick-box exercise for us – above and beyond any legal and regulatory compliance, we want to be a force for good and a positive presence in the societies we work with.

Our business

Having a diverse, inclusive culture empowers our people to be the best they can be, which in turn allows them to provide the best possible service to our customers – many of whom also share these values.

  • Training and development opportunities in every department, managed centrally
  • Policies that promote fairness in our approach as an employer and flexibility in working
  • A company-wide wellbeing strategy that focuses on physical, financial and mental health for all colleagues
  • Ambitions to attract, develop and retain the best talent in every part of our business
  • Apprenticeship programmes and other training opportunities help our colleagues to develop – for example, our “Warehouse to Wheels” scheme offers a route into training as a driver for colleagues that currently work in our warehouse operations
  • Graduate programmes available in Finance and Supply Chain & Operations departments

We’re looking forward to making the most of our parent company, Sysco’s, expertise in diversity and inclusion – and exploring the international opportunities that we can start to offer our UK colleagues.


Our suppliers

We work with some of the biggest brand names in food, but we also support smaller suppliers right across the UK to offer our customers the best of their local products. Our suppliers have to sign up to a strict code of conduct before we will work with them, and we encourage them to partner with us on societal issues.

  • Our Scotland business, Brakes Scotland, works closely with over 100 Scottish suppliers in support of the country’s economy and in response to the needs of our customers above the border – such as Scotch Beef PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) from supplier Scottish Gourmet; 28-day aged beef sourced exclusively from Scottish farms and approved by Quality Meat Scotland
  • Our own brand milk comes from independent, family-run supplier Yew Tree Dairy. For more than 100 years Yew Tree Dairy have had fantastic relationships with their farmers; they collect from just over 140 farms but have a waiting list of dairy farmers looking to work with them.

We work with Yew Tree to ensure the prices the farmers are paid are fair, and reflective of the farm gate prices that the top three processors pay – this makes for a transparent, mutually beneficial and sustainable agreement where prices move only when the farmers’ prices do.

We also work together to lower the food miles of this milk – empty Brakes lorries on returning journeys pick up from the Yew Tree Dairy sites that they go past (this also ensures the best possible shelf life for our customers).


Philanthropy & Community Engagement

As a business employing over 7,000 people, we’re proud to be a fundamental presence in many communities across the UK. Supporting these communities is important to maintaining a positive relationship with them, emphasising Brakes as the employer of choice and creating lasting partnerships with customers, suppliers and local authorities.

Giving back is just as important, for both Brakes as a business and for our colleagues. We look beyond our own boundaries, working together with our industry and others to help those in need.


Meals & More - Tackling holiday hunger

Our award-winning charity is part of a growing movement to alleviate child food poverty in the UK by supporting holiday clubs in vulnerable areas, when the relative safety net of free school meals disappears for as long as 6 weeks at a time. One in four children lives in poverty in the UK – as a foodservice business, we knew we could help.

Leveraging existing elements of Brakes (like our distribution network, our suppliers and our customers), we support local delivery partners to run clubs that provide nutritious food, stimulating activities and a safe environment.

In 2017 our clubs supported over 100,000 meals for more than 9,000 children. Every pound raised funds one more meal, or contributes towards a PhD at Northumbria University conducting research into holiday hunger.

Click here to discover Meals & More


Giving back

Our depots, offices and contact centres love to champion local causes ranging from hospices to animal protection, alongside fundraising for Meals & More. Brakes matches 10% of fundraising (to an upper limit) and often donates stock to local events.

In 2017 our Operations network raised over £36,000 in charitable donations!

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Health & Wellness

We embrace our responsibility as a food company to encourage physical and mental wellbeing. This means carefully-curated product choices informed by consumer and market insight, combined with expert nutritional advice that allows our customers to make educated decisions.

Brakes was founded by the three Brake brothers on the principles of hard work, looking after our customers and creating solutions that help them thrive, and valuing the people that make this happen – our colleagues.

“If you look after your customers and look after your people, you’ll have a successful business.” – Frank Brake, founder

Our range

We offer over 9,500 products and provide insight to help our customers make educated choices; our supplier partnerships help us make sure our own-brand products have the right nutritional balance. We make conscious decisions on branded products to ensure they comply with our standards.

All product ranges include healthy options, and our expert Nutrition team offers bespoke advice to colleagues and all our customers around healthy choices – whether that’s help for schools or specialist guidance for dementia patients. We also offer an increasing number of “free from” products and a sophisticated menu analysis tool to help customers cater for all sorts of dietary requirements.

We have ongoing projects to reduce sugar, salt, fat and overall calories; we’ve already reduced the sugar content in a number of our own label yoghurt and breakfast cereals, with our attention now focused on dry store and impulse products.

Where our partner brands have made reductions, we work with them to share this great news. It goes without saying that we comply with every industry regulation, including salt targets (own brand range only).

Our people

At the end of the day, it’s our people who deliver the service that helps our customers to thrive – from the drivers out on the road to our colleagues picking orders in the warehouses, to our friendly Customer Care colleagues and our central support teams. Our people recognise each other and their teams as one of the best things about working for Brakes.

We are a place where you can start as a school-leaver or graduate and work your way right through the business. Many colleagues, including those in leadership positions, have been with the business for decades – in 2017 more than 300 colleagues celebrated 10, 20, 30 and even 40-year long service achievements, something we’re incredibly proud at Brakes.

We take care of our colleagues at every step of the way. A dedicated support programme offers advice, counselling, discounted medical plans and an array of other offers, to help with all of life’s little problems, and our staff sales means Brakes colleagues can make the most of our range!


Colleague wellbeing: standing up to cancer


In 2017 we launched a Wellbeing Strategy with campaigns around physical, financial and mental health. The first of these, physical health, launched in October 2017 with Stand Up To Cancer – an educational campaign about spotting early signs of cancer, what sort of support is available and encouraging conversation about this emotional topic. With overwhelming engagement right across our business, we fundraised like never before and as a company donated over £35,000 to Cancer Research!

In conjunction with Time to Change and the Mental Health Foundation we have launched a long-term mental health wellbeing programme that demonstrates our commitment to the positive mental health of all colleagues. This includes mental health awareness training for all line managers and other key people within the business, equipping them to spot the signs and offer support to colleagues who are experiencing problems with their mental health. 

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