A conversation with Ian Cheshire, Kingfisher's Group Chief Executive
Kingfisher's history of sustainability
Kingfisher has a long and successful heritage in responsible retailing. From B&Q UK becoming a founder member of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) more than two decades ago, to Castorama and Brico Dépôt being named by WWF as two of the top three best French retailers for their timber programmes in 2012. From minimising nasty chemicals (VOCs) in our paint and reducing the peat volumes in our compost, to finding the most sustainable ones and putting them on our shelves: our track record as a responsible and ethical retailer is strong. We already have a lot for which to be proud and we view this as a solid base to work from and to build upon.
Creating the Leader
We asked ourselves though whether minimising our negative impact was really enough and decided that it wasn’t. That’s why the next phase of our growth and our new corporate ambition is about 'Creating the Leader'. We want to be bold and re-design our approach to business to have a positive impact on the world. So we created Net Positive.
At Kingfisher, we help millions of people each week to make their homes better. Because ‘home’ is so central to people’s lives, we’re making their lives better. People’s homes use substantial amounts of energy and raw materials to keep them warm and comfortable. This means that their homes can’t be ‘better’ without being more efficient in the energy and resources that they use. For us, ‘better’ is not just being ‘sustainable’. Zero isn't enough, neutral isn't enough. Better means going beyond achieving zero impact and committing to make a positive contribution to the world. We simply don’t think it’s possible to be better without being more sustainable. That means we can not deliver on our core purpose of helping people make better homes without this. So the challenge we have set ourselves is to become net positive.
Delivering Net Positive within the business
We have set our sights on 2050. Our ambition is to transform the way we operate to become a net positive business. Over the coming years we will use the capabilities of our business to contribute positively to some of the big challenges in the world. We understand we have a very long way to go but we have already taken the first few steps.
It is crucial in the current economic climate that Net Positive delivers business benefits. At a time of increasing pressure on the resources that we and our customers use, Net Positive will see us restoring and replenishing what we use, allowing us to secure the supplies that are vital to our business and to minimise our exposure to price volatility. Net Positive is also a platform to innovate new products, services and skills, allowing us to unlock new opportunities and to drive growth.
Net Positive is a big ambition. We cannot pretend to have all the answers about how we will deliver on this long-term goal. But we believe it is a bold aspiration that our people will get behind – and that gives us confidence that we are heading in the right directions.
We are acutely aware that becoming Net Positive cannot be achieved unilaterally by us, or any one business. Securing supply of essential natural resources is a shared problem for businesses, our customers and society at large. So in setting out our ambition, we are also initiating a dialogue with all our stakeholders about the journey to net positive.
In these webpages you’ll find out what Net Positive means for Kingfisher – our long-term aspirations, short-term targets and measurement metrics against which we’ll be assessed. You’ll also find some of the initiatives already underway that will help us to become net positive and, most importantly, how you too can get involved in our Net Positive conversations, so my thanks for your interest.
Group Chief Executive, Kingfisher