New sustainable growth plan acts as ‘roadmap’ to Net Positive for Kingfisher

EXCLUSIVE: Home improvement retailer Kingfisher has unveiled a comprehensive range of short-term sustainability targets in a bid to engage its customers and 77,000 employees in the company's long-term ambition of becoming "truly sustainable".

The B&Q and ScrewFix owner revealed its new sustainable growth plan, with a headline goal of achieving 50% of the group’s sales by 2020 from products that “actively make customers’ homes more sustainable” – such as LED lighting, insulation and low-flow taps. The products which fall into this category make up around 33% of the group’s current range and account for more than £3.8bn of sales annually.

Kingfisher claims that by achieving its headline target, its customers will be able to halve their own energy use and improve their water efficiency by 50% within the next seven years.

The sustainable growth plan sets goals for 2025 and will run alongside Kingfisher’s Net Positive sustainability plan, which incorporates 50 specific targets for 2050, including making every Kingfisher store and customer home zero carbon at least. The 12 new targets will act as a “road-map” to “milestones” along this long-term journey, according to the group’s head of sustainability, Caroline Laurie.

“We have got really ambitious 2050 aspirations under Net Positive, which has been really well-received and hailed as the next frontier of sustainability strategies,” Laurie exclusively told edie at this year’s edie Live event. “But ultimately, that technical language of sustainability and that long-term framing failed to connect with our customers and colleagues, who are our most important stakeholders.”

She added: “What we wanted to do was create a roadmap to 2025 that spoke much more directly to customers and their needs and concerns. It takes our long-term ambitions of becoming a truly sustainable company and breaks it down into short-term steps which are more easily accessible.”

The new plan is based on an extensive customer research project in the UK France, Poland, Russia and Spain, which sought to understand which sustainability issues really mattered to customers in their homes.

Kingfisher found that people were increasingly engaging with energy and water efficiency measures, demanding toxin-free products and making steps towards circularity by repairing, recycling and reusing their homewares. But while sustainability was found to connect with customers’ domestic priorities, they were put off by lofty, long-term targets and the word ‘sustainability’ itself.

The group’s chief officer Véronique Laury, who replaced Ian Cheshire in 2015, has also been “absolutely active” in developing and sponsoring the plan, according to Laurie.

“Sustainability is absolutely core to our purpose set by our chief executive, which is ensuring everyone has a home they feel good about,” Laurie added.

Internal goals  

As well as customer-specific targets, the sustainable growth plan includes six internal goals for Kingfisher including sending zero waste to landfill by 2020 and recycling 90% of waste streams by 2025; sourcing all wood, paper and peat-free growing media responsibly by 2025, and achieving transparency of harmful chemicals in supply chains by 2020 before phasing out the “highest priority” hazardous chemicals from its products five years later.

Kingfisher additionally said it will cut absolute carbon emissions from buildings and transport by a quarter by 2020 against a 2010-2011 baseline.

The new plan forms part of the group’s five-year ‘one Kingfisher’ strategy, which was launched in 2016 and aims to transform the company’s structure by “unifying” its key brands.

Sarah George

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