Adapting to change
today; preparing for the
challenges of tomorrow
In our annual review, we look back at the role GS1 UK has
played in helping our members answer the questions of
today while preparing for the challenges of tomorrow.
Building on the foundations
of a successful strategy
The past 12 months have
been transformative, not
only for our members and
society as a whole but also for GS1 UK.
As we finally emerged
from more than a year of
lockdowns, few could have imagined the fresh set of challenges now facing us. From rising energy prices to soaring inflation, consumers and industry are grappling with a range of issues impacting on both the cost of living and the cost of doing business.
More than ever, on every
front and across every
sector we serve, there has
been a growing need to
address legislative and
regulatory change, especially on the topics of sustainability, patient safety,
food safety and nutrition.
The role we play in powering
collaboration and trusted
data is more relevant than
ever. As we enter the
second year of our three-year strategy; ‘Growth with purpose’, shifting industry dynamics and consumer demands mean that our standards have never been more necessary, whether online, in-store, on a construction site or on a ward.
Over the past 12 months,
we have delivered sustainable growth. We have implemented a new campaign-led approach to
demonstrate how GS1
standards can be applied
to real world challenges.
We have raised our profile with key stakeholders,
delivered deeper industry
engagement and are becoming more widely recognised as an enabler of
change. This has allowed
us to take a more active
role in shaping the future.
In several areas, including
public policy and construction, we have accelerated the implementation of our
second year plans to capitalise on these early successes.
Our four strategic pillars,
voice and visibility,
standards and services
excellence, have proved
to be a robust framework
for the delivery of our
objectives. They have
working and, with over
90 per cent of associated KPIs and milestones being
delivered, have generated
a real sense of accomplishment.
2021-2022 has seen continued growth from the unprecedented levels we achieved in 2020-2021.
Fuelled by increasing
shifts towards D2C, multichannel and
many more businesses are recognising the importance of interoperable data standards for powering
product visibility, consumer trust and efficient
As a result, 40 per cent of our membership base is at the beginning of their business journey, laying solid foundations for success by building trust and resilience in an increasingly uncertain world.
CEO, GS1 UK
We have seen a wide array of diverse organisations join our community, ranging from pioneering new brands to established household names.
Over the last 12 months, our membership has exceeded 58,000 members with a net growth of 9 per cent.
at year end:
Total new joiners:
As our membership expands, so too has our team, growing four per cent year on year. We have created a number of new roles, with different skills and experience, that will be invaluable to our members.
We have embraced hybrid working, offering our staff greater flexibility while benefiting from being back in the office with the opportunity to meet our members and partners face to face.
Gender pay gap data collected in June 2022 showed a difference of only £1000 in median pay between women and men at GS1 UK.
Top sectors for total membership growth in 2021-22.
Reasons for joining
E-commerce and social media are changing the way we consume. The top ten companies that members stated they were joining to trade with are now all online platforms.
We continue to see significant numbers of small and medium sized businesses joining as they realise the need to get their product data right from the beginning and take advantage of the many benefits their GS1 UK membership offers. The year has been our biggest for growth outside of the SME community. With increasing digitalisation, closed loop systems are becoming less effective, leading to a greater need for interoperable data standards. As a result, a variety of established businesses have become GS1 UK members, including:
The benefits of becoming a GS1 UK member go far beyond our standards. The reasons for joining are many but, over the course of the past year, we have seen a noticeable increase in the number of organisations who reported that changing legislation was one of their primary motives.
We have seen a significant shift from B2B to B2C as thousands of business owners and founders across the UK take control of their destiny by selling direct to consumers through online channels. Originally fuelled largely by the pandemic, this dramatic shift is what triggered our record growth during 2020-2021, but this change is now here to stay.
Based on these trends, we are focusing our efforts on the areas where consumer need, legislation and industry efficiencies intersect.
We are also continually building our member insights. These insights are at the heart of our strategy and will inform
the approaches we take to provide the greatest value for our members, industry and wider society.
Whether you’re a member, thinking of joining, or just have a few questions, we are always happy to help.
Over the past year, our team has managed:
Raising our voice and visibility
As we continue to raise awareness of how standards have the power to change the way people work and live, our new campaign-led approach has shone a spotlight on some of the key issues facing consumers and industry. Highlights from the past year include:
Natasha’s Law (Food safety)
HFSS (Legislative change)
pieces across national,
regional, trade and
Engaging with industry
After months of lockdowns, it has been fantastic to get back out into the world and re-connect with members and partners.
The learnings of the pandemic have enabled us to enhance and continue our programme of virtual events, breaking down barriers to access and providing even more of our members with new opportunities to network, learn and grow their businesses.
We have particularly enjoyed being able to meet face to face and, back in March, hosted our first live event in over two years. The GS1 UK healthcare conference 2022 was an overwhelming success that saw hundreds of healthcare experts, clinicians and solution providers come together to build on the key themes of patient safety and digital transformation.
This was just one of the many events we have hosted, or supported, over the past 12 months, connecting with thousands of attendees from across industry, the media and government.
We have also been continuously refining our membership proposition to raise awareness of the many services we provide. GS1 UK membership goes far beyond standards as we are fully committed to helping UK PLC thrive.
As well as educating our members on the power of standards, we have asked them what is keeping them awake at night and have used these learnings to inform a wide array of community partnerships that will help their business grow, both at home and overseas.
For over 40 years we have trained thousands of companies on our standards and solutions
and this year was no different.
From reaching new audiences overseas, to obtaining funding or boosting sales online, many of our members have seen their businesses flourish. Their stories not only provide insights and inspiration to other budding entrepreneurs, but also demonstrate how we help their businesses grow.
After developing the Calla shoes concept in 2015, Jennifer Bailey spent a year putting all her research, manufacturing and website build requirements in place before incorporating her business in 2016.
Since then, she has turned her innovative idea into
a profitable business that now boasts customers in more than 40 countries.
Duco Life is an ethical performance sportswear brand that has taken the climbing world by storm. From humble beginnings with two printed t-shirts and an initial investment of £25, Duco has since grown into
a company that puts a passion for adventure and environmental consciousness into everything they
do. In 2017, founders Kieran and Tom took Duco to the Climbing World Championships, returning two years later to see Team GB take to the podium wearing their brand.
Happy Inside founder Charlie Knockton was inspired to create his hugely successful gut-health drinks brand after becoming disillusioned with the soft drinks that were available online and in stores. Launched within six months of being approved for the Government-backed ‘Start Up Loan Scheme’ in August 2020, Happy Inside has grown from initial concept to an online store, listings with national retailers, leading wholesalers, major restaurant chains and many more.
Our work with industry
We are committed to using our standards to power a safer and more sustainable world. We are proud of the change we have enabled so far and, with industry currently facing some of the most significant market and legislative shifts seen in decades, close collaboration between stakeholders is needed now more than ever. Over the past twelve months, we have launched new initiatives to help industry and government find solutions to problems they can’t solve themselves.
Solving the HFSS dilemma together
From October 2022, new high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) legislation designed to tackle obesity and promote healthier choices will initiate a seismic shift across the food industry. To help industry prepare and adapt, we partnered with the UK’s major grocery retailers to develop a solution that makes compliance easier and more efficient for them and their suppliers.
Our HFSS solution, launched in February 2022, provides brands and retailers with a consistent, method for capturing and sharing HFSS attributes. To date we have seen over 54,000 products uploaded by suppliers and over 100,000 received by all retailers combined, proving that when industry needs to find solutions to shared challenges, collaboration gets it done.
We commissioned research to understand levels of awareness and readiness amongst consumers and industry ahead of the new legislation coming into force.
We found that while 66 percent of businesses, and 68 per cent of consumers, agree on the need for such regulation, the majority were unaware of the new rules and completely unprepared. Only
one in three businesses had assessed their products to see if they were in scope.
Equipped with this knowledge,
we launched a campaign to raise awareness of the HFSS challenge and submitted responses to HFSS consultations in England, Scotland and Wales to support effective implementation.
Learning from the past
to prepare for the future
The last 12 months have highlighted how industry has managed the challenges of multiple phases of COVID and, of course, the huge changes triggered by Brexit. Overcoming these challenges has provided us with many learnings, but one thing that is clear is that there were three key pillars that proved crucial to that success; people, data, and collaboration.
A lot has changed since our last annual review. The Ukraine conflict has brought massive disruption to global supply chains and businesses across almost every sector are facing unprecedented supply issues. We have had logistics to replan, vast cost increases, energy crises and raw material shortages to name but a few.
However, industry has largely managed to survive these challenges thanks to the experiences that have been built up over the last two and half years. These experiences will prove even more valuable as we face an increasingly turbulent future.
The black swan events that used to come along maybe every one or two years throughout most of my
career are now coming every week, almost every day. It is not one or two black swans; it is a whole flock of them and terms like ‘supply chain disruption’ have now become a daily part of the kitchen table conversation.
While the year ahead may not be an easy one, there is still cause for optimism. The struggles facing consumers and industry are widely recognised and already we are seeing experts, policy makers and key stakeholders from across the four nations come together to find solutions to the problems they cannot solve on their own. GS1 UK has played a key role in facilitating this collaboration and will continue to do so going forward.
Ever since the Cumberlege report and Grenfell Inquiry so clearly demonstrated the need for increased digitalisation in both healthcare and construction, we have been working tirelessly to support the adoption of GS1 standards across the four nations and will continue to do so going forward.
One development that I believe will be especially impactful was recently
outlined in the Government’s response to the National Food Strategy; stating that better-informed consumers can drive positive change from producers, the government has set out plans to introduce a new Food Data Transparency Partnership. This partnership will bring together representatives from across government, the supply chain and civil society who will collaborate to develop consistent metrics for better understanding the impact of food production.
We welcome these plans and look forward to working closely with our partners in government and across industry to make them a reality.
Increasing collaboration on the collection of accurate and consistent data will be a key factor in powering progress across industry. This will provide the framework required to address major supply chain issues and implement new initiatives for developing safer, more ethical, and more sustainable ways of working.
More importantly, it will form the foundation of robust future policy that is based on evidence and data
rather than opinion, regardless of who is in office.
The importance of people, trusted data and collaboration spans all industries and sectors. As consumer demand for trust and transparency increases, so too have the legislative demands placed on UK businesses; demands that cannot be met without the sharing of accurate data, open communication and close collaboration between all stakeholders.
Over the next year, we will also continue to support the retail industry as it adapts to new challenges surrounding supply chain, food safety and food security, by collaborating with retailers, manufacturers, producers and more, both within this country and abroad to support the adoption of standards and keep people informed and protected.
Chris Tyas OBE
Chair, GS1 UK