European home improvement company Kingfisher has set out ambitious sustainability targets for the next seven years – the latest stage of its journey to become a net positive business by 2050. The newly released Sustainable Growth Plan 2018 aims to drive lasting change by translating sustainability into a language that connects with customers and the real concerns they have in their homes.
“The purpose of ONE Kingfisher is to create good homes by making home improvement accessible for everyone, and central to this is helping our customers live more sustainably. We’re proud of our achievements so far: over a quarter of our sales now come from our sustainable home products; 96% of wood and paper in our products is responsibly sourced; and we’ve saved customers £840 million on their energy bills,” said Pierre Woreczek, Chief Customer Officer at Kingfisher.
“It’s now time to set our next milestones and we know lasting change will only come when we can help guide the behaviours of our customers. Sustainability strategies have typically focused on the ‘big wide world’ and told people what they should care about. Ultimately this fails to connect with customers. This plan is rooted in real customer concerns and in our commercial goals. We know we can have a positive impact on the people who shop with us, on our business, the communities we operate in, and on the environment.”
Kingfisher, which is the parent company of B&Q, Castorama, Brico Depot, Screwfix and Koçtaş, has set 12 impact-focused targets under four “big goals.” The plan was informed by detailed customer research that the company carried out over the past year in five of its European markets. Kingfisher sought a deeper understanding of customers’ views on sustainability in relation to their homes by listening to their wants and needs and visiting their homes. They found that saving energy, reconnecting with nature, concerns about living in healthy and toxin-free homes, and smarter consumption were all increasingly top-of-mind for consumers.
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The research further showed that people find making sustainable choices hard work and it often feels too complicated or time consuming, particularly when grappling with an already complex home improvement project. Kingfisher applied this insight to its sustainability strategy and the establishment of its four big goals, which challenge Kingfisher’s own operations and aim to make it easier for customers to live more sustainably.
1. Saving money by saving water and energy
This goal is focused on helping customers improve their energy and water efficiency, in turn making their homes more comfortable (e.g. eliminating draughts) and saving them money, by combining high quality products, support and information.
By 2025, the company aims to enable a 50 percent reduction in customer energy use and a 50 percent improvement in customer water efficiency through products, services and advice.
These customer-focused targets are complemented by a corporate goal to reduce absolute carbon emissions from buildings and transport by 25 percent from a 2010/11 baseline by 2020. So far, the company has cut its operational carbon footprint by 10 percent since 2010/11, in part by moving 100 percent of the purchased electricity for its UK operations entirely to renewable sources (about 40 percent of Kingfisher’s total electricity use).
2. Living smarter by getting more from less, re-using or using longer
Kingfisher notes that even if customers haven’t heard of the circular economy, they want quality products that are long-lasting, create less waste and are easy to recycle. The company plans to continue working with partners such as Bioregional and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to integrate circular economy design principles into its products and solutions.
By 2025, Kingfisher aims to create 20 product ranges or services that help customers and its business get more from less, reuse or use longer. Today, the company has two product ranges that meet its criteria for this goal, which generated £9 million in sales in 2016/17.
In relation to its own operations, the company eliminate waste to landfill by 2020 and have 90 percent of its waste recycled by 2025, as well as continue to improve its sustainable sourcing practices such as by responsibly sourcing 100 percent of its wood and paper and exclusively selling peat-free bagged growing media by 2020. Kingfisher plans to apply lessons learned from its work on wood and peat to other materials and product ranges, ultimately ensuring sustainable management and efficient use of key resources by 2025.
3. Creating a healthier home and connecting with nature
Kingfisher’s research showed customers have a strong desire among to connect with nature and awareness of the health benefits to be gained by doing so, even among those whose outdoor space at home is limited to a small window box.
By 2025, Kingfisher aims for 20 percent of its sales to be from products that enable customers to create safer, healthier homes and connect with nature. What the company is calling ‘Connect to Nature’ and ‘Healthy Home’ products accounted for 5 percent of sales in 2016/17.
At the same time, air quality and toxins are of growing concern. The company aims to achieve transparency of harmful chemicals in key supply chains by 2020, and phase out the highest priority hazardous and high-risk chemicals of concern and introduce five green substances by 2025.
4. Being part of a community that helps millions more people improve their home
The final “big goal” of Kingfisher’s Sustainable Growth Plan is focused on continuing work across all its markets to tackle poor and unfit housing through community programs and partnerships such as with Shelter and the Red Cross. The company aims to help millions more people tackle these issues by 2025.
Kingfisher further aims to ensure all its suppliers meet its ethical and environmental standards by 2020. By 2025, the company aims to establish strategic community programmes to “achieve positive change” in key sourcing regions, as well as support its colleagues to have “homes they can feel good about.” Across its subsidiaries, Kingfisher has 77,000 colleagues across 10 countries.