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Lyreco: Meaningful Social Value measurement

How market-leader Lyreco made accurate measurement a cornerstone of its Social Value strategy. 


Lyreco is a worldwide distributor of office supplies and workplace services with 28 regional and national distribution centres across the UK and Ireland, and around 1,300 employees.  

Today we will be exploring how Lyreco has created Social Value for communities – and makes sure its Social Value measurement is robust, accurate, and aligned to the Social Value TOM System™.  

Lyreco’s Social Value journey 

2021 was a big year for Social Value at Lyreco. First, the business adopted the TOM System™ for Social Value measurement and reporting, and to support customers in delivering their own Social Value. Lyreco also become a member of the National Social Value Taskforce in 2021, working toward the integration of Social Value across all sectors of society.  

The next big step came in 2023, when Lyreco released its first Social Value report in collaboration with the Social Value Portal team, who certified Lyreco’s achievements. The report covered Lyreco’s national and local investments into Social Value and the work being done at its distribution centres with employees, suppliers, and customers.  

Lyreco’s dedication and commitment have yielded incredible results: in 2022 alone, the business generated £79 million of Social Value.


How Lyreco is driving impact 

Much of the Social Value Lyreco has reported comes from the number of local people the business employs.  

Hiring locally is a prominent and widely used Measure within the TOM System. This simple tactic can drive significant impact by empowering local workers, who go on to invest in their local community, creating a virtuous circle.  

The next largest portion of Lyreco’s Social Value comes from its active engagement with UK-based suppliers. This constitutes an investment in the UK economy and provides Lyreco’s customers with a range of UK-manufactured products – thus reducing both Lyreco’s emissions and those of its customers. 

Lyreco drives further Social Value creation through a range of other initiatives, including: 

  • Two days of paid volunteering leave for full time employees  
  • Serving as a support member of Social Enterprise UK 
  • An award-winning Supplier Support Programme for microbusinesses and social enterprises 
  • Working with several UK based charities and organising an annual charity dinner 
  • Supporting apprentices and work experience students, and speaking at schools  
  • Working with key Social Value partners to support customers 

What does robust, credible Social Value look like? 

At Social Value Portal, we follow and promote certain key principles of Social Value measurement and reporting. In fact, all Social Value data reported against projects on our platform goes through a comprehensive validation process. 

Accurate Social Value reporting using the TOM System should be correctly attributed, evidenced, and additional to core contract requirements and business-as-usual standards. 

Social Value should also avoid certain pitfalls, such as: 

  • Overclaiming: This is equivalent to misattributing – whether by reporting Social Value beyond the scope of a contract, claiming another party’s Social Value, or claiming Social Value outside the relevant timescales. 
  • Double counting: This mistake might stem from reporting against the same targets more than once, reporting the same data against more than one measure, or another error.  

Organisations that make these mistakes typically do so unintentionally – but may nonetheless leave themselves open to accusations of greenwashing and social washing. That’s why careful attention to detail is required when recording and reporting Social Value. 

Both Lyreco and Social Value Portal have noticed examples of potentially flawed Social Value claims in the market.  

For instance, claims of Social Value generated ‘per £1 spent’ which exceed the £1 may suggest double counting, since typical return on Social Value ‘return on investment’ hovers around 20-30%. It may also indicate that an organisation is chasing a large Social Value delivery figure for a single year without giving due consideration to the longer-term viability of its approach.  

Lyreco is an example of an organisation that understands the importance of robust, accurate Social Value reporting, along with an embedded approach that meets community needs. The business been a great supporter of our drive for high standards of accuracy in Social Value reporting.

Claire Houston-Holland, Strategic Account Manager, Social Value Portal

Going through the journey of measuring and reporting our Social Value has very insightful. Lyreco has always tried to lead in social responsibility and sustainability and calculating our Social Value has helped to support the work we do. The TOM System has provided guidance in areas that we want to improve in, and the networks from the Taskforce have been extremely supportive. We want to be transparent in all our reporting and make sure that our customers are aware of all that we do – hence we use the Social Value TOM System. 


Andrew Bryers, Head of Sustainability at Lyreco UK and Ireland 


A Social Value solution you can count on 

Pressure is growing for businesses to demonstrate the positive outcomes they are creating for our communities. If you want to measure, manage, and optimise your organisation’s Social Value, start by booking a discovery call with one of our experts 

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About Social Value Portal

Since 2017 Social Value Portal has been at the forefront of the Social Value movement. As creators of the endorsed Social Value TOM SystemTM, hosts of the annual Social Value Conference and founding members of the independent National Social Value Taskforce – they set industry standards and lead the business agenda.

Their unique mix of consultancy, cloud platform and programmes offer organisations the complete solution to accurately measure, manage and report Social Value – and create lasting impact.

In 2022, SVP achieved B Corp status, scoring above average in all assessed. The company’s aim is to promote better business and community wellbeing through the integration of Social Value into day-to-day business activity across all sectors.

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