Greener retail

December 2021

Highlighting retailers’ efforts to be greener. Featuring announcements about products, strategies, and new eco-commitments from Dunelm, Boots, Vivobarefoot and many more.

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December news in brief

Running a business leaves a carbon footprint, so any sustainability claims must always be taken with a pinch of salt.

But that’s not to say organisations cannot be greener – and improve their environmental credentials. Indeed, every week we’re hearing of new commercial initiatives that purport to be better for the planet.

Green Retail World’s aim is to highlight when retailers and brands are doing things better and greener – and there are plenty of examples out there. Their inclusion on these pages is not to say they are a sustainable or green business per se.

Each month, this section of the site provides a rolling ticker of industry announcements, initiatives, and manoeuvres related to the green agenda. There will be quick snippets listed on these pages, highlighting what this publication believes are examples of retailers taking a step in the right direction to help reduce their impact on the planet.

Here’s a list of good practice from November. Below are some examples of greener retailing we’ve seen this month:

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24 December 2021: Brewgooder encourages packing reuse for a good cause

UK B Corp Brewgooder has teamed up with Social Bite for a Christmas initiative that is both green and socially responsible.

Scotland-based Brewgooder has transformed its outer delivery boxes into food bank donation packs, complete with QR codes and instructions that make it easy for customers to choose items to donate to their local food bank.

It means customers can donate items to a good cause, while also reusing the packaging rather than throwing it away.

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20 December 2021: M&S agrees sustainability-linked credit facility

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has announced that it has agreed a new £850 million revolving credit facility, running until June 2025 and replacing the existing facility, which was due to mature in April 2023.

Following the reset of its sustainability-focused Plan A programme in September, M&S’s new facility is linked to the delivery of its net zero scope 3 target by 2040. The retailer will benefit from a lower interest rate if it delivers targets aligned to its net zero roadmap.

M&S has worked with BNP Paribas as its sustainability coordinator, with the retailer saying that the structuring of the facility aligns with the guidelines set out by the Sustainability-Linked Loan Principles, published by the Loan Market Association.

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17 December 2021: Vivobarefoot publishes ‘verrucas ‘n all’ 2021 Impact Report

Specialist footwear retailer Vivobarefoot has published its ‘Unfinished Business’ integrated impact report for 2020-21, showcasing many of its policies and work to ensure the shoes it sells have a planet-positive effect.

In the report it talks of its repair, restore, and resale initiatives as well as its quest to manufacture footwear in the most environmentally-friendly manner. But it talks of a shoe industry that is “f*cked” and one that produces “billions of pairs of ill-fitting shoes that — during their short lives — have disconnected us from our bodies and our world, while trampling all over nature and the people who make them”.

In the report’s foreword, Vivobarefoot director sustainability, Emma Foster-Geering, supported by creatives Lucy Langdon and Heather Knight, states: “You’ve probably noticed that most businesses use annual reporting as a chance to cherry pick stories that celebrate the good and distract from the bad.

“Vivo bares all. They may as well call it butt-naked reporting. So while they may not be the most polished or the most advanced company, they’re not going to lie. Instead, in this report, you will find an account of Vivobarefoot’s progress towards regenerative business — verrucas ‘n all.”

Click here to read the report

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14 December 2021: NRF Big Show to welcome sustainability leaders to stage

Roian Atwood, senior director of sustainability at Tractor Supply Company, and Amanda Nusz, senior vice president of corporate responsibility at​ Target, are two of five retail eco leaders set to appear at the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Big Show trade expo in New York in January.

Joon Silverstein,​​ global head of digital & sustainability at Coach, and Jennifer Steinmann, global ESG marketplace leader at Deloitte, are also on the speaker agenda. As is Javier Quiñones, CEO of the US arm of Ikea, which labels its geographical leaders as chief sustainability officers.

The event takes place at Javits Convention Centre from 16-18 January 2022.

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13 December 2021: Hurr raises $5.4m to scale its fashion rental platform

Fashion rental platform Hurr has announced it reached a total of $5.4 million in a pre-Series A funding raise.

The funding round was led by European venture capital (VC) firm Octopus Ventures, with Ascension, D4 Ventures and others contributing.

On LinkedIn, founder and CEO Victoria Prew said: “I literally dreamt of the day we’d be able to fundraise from a top-tier VC.

“To be backed by the same investors that bought you Depop is daunting, overwhelming and extremely exciting all in the same moment.”

Read more about Hurr on Green Retail World
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10 December 2021: Dunelm announces new sustainability-linked bank loan

Homewares retailer Dunelm has announced it has agreed and signed a £185 million sustainability-linked unsecured revolving credit facility (RCF) with its banking partners.

The facility has an initial term of four years, which may be extended by a maximum of a further two years at Dunelm’s request, subject to lender consent.

Sustainability targets linked to the terms of the loan include a 50% reduction in Dunelm’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 against a 2019 base, all own brand cotton products being more responsibly sourced, and a 20% reduction in plastic packaging of own brand products by 2024. In addition, the RCF is linked to the provision of a customer take-back service for 50% of Dunelm’s products by 2024.

Dunelm said its performance against the sustainability performance targets will be verified by an independent external assurance provider and published in the group’s annual report. The RCF is Dunelm’s first sustainability-linked loan facility and replaces its existing RCF, which was due to expire in March 2023.

Laura Carr, Dunelm’s CFO, said: “Our sustainability plans have already taken a big leap forward as we continue to pursue our ambition of being sustainable in everything we do.

“We are delighted to further demonstrate our commitment with this new sustainability linked revolving credit facility, which is clearly aligned to our Net Zero Pathway. We appreciate the support of our banking partners and their alignment with our sustainability ambitions.”

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9 December 2021: Burberry launches into resale and rental

My Wardrobe HQ has partnered with Burberry to support the launch of the British brand’s first womenswear rental and resale offering in the UK.

Key Burberry pieces donated by customers, including trench coats and handbags, are included in the edit, which launched on 8 December.

Items can be rented by consumers for four-, seven-, ten- or 14-day periods.

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8 December 2021: Hammerson partner Grid Edge closes new £2m funding round

Tech company Grid Edge, which helps companies such as Birmingham Bullring owner Hammerson and the Royal Opera House reduce their carbon footprints, has closed a new £2m funding round.

Investment came from several organisation including bp venturesGoldacre (part of the Noé Group) and Aston University.

Grid Edge said the additional funding recognises the value and growth it delivers to partner companies despite the significant impact of the pandemic on its core market, which includes shopping centres, airports and universities.

It added that the funding will provide a platform to scale up and mature the business over the next 18-24 months. It will enable the company to reach more customers, develop new products and further grow its team.

Tom Anderson, co-founder at Grid Edge, said: “Optimising energy demand to reach net zero is now an essential requirement for businesses.

“We are proud to provide many leading companies with predictive AI technology to reduce energy consumption and save money.”

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7 December 2021: MKM Building Supplies invests in compressed natural gas HGVs

UK independent builder’s merchant MKM Building Supplies has invested in six Iveco compressed natural gas (CNG) HGVs, as part of its greener business strategy.

The order of CNG trucks will bolster the existing MKM delivery fleets at its Newark, Bishops Auckland, Warrington and Crewe branches. The first two CNG HGVs were delivered to the Newark branch last month.

The CHG vehicles represent a small percentage of MKM’s 240-strong fleet, but Shane Thompson, head of transport at the builder’s merchant, said the investment serves as “an exciting testbed for the impact of alternatively fuelled vehicles on our wider fleet”.

“Investing in sustainable HGVs has long been a priority for MKM, and as a business we’ve thought long and hard about what a mixed fleet should look like,” he added.

“We chose CNG not just because of its obvious benefits in terms of carbon reduction, but also because of the existing infrastructure which makes such an investment viable at scale. With nine CNG fuelling stations currently active in the UK, including one opposite our Newark branch, and more to follow in the next few years, our CNG vehicles have access to a robust fuelling network.”

Rachel Constable, head of ESG at MKM, commented: “In addition to our fleet activity, are also scaling up our customer offering of sustainable products, like air source heat pumps, and continuing to work in close partnership with our branch network on their own sustainability journeys.”

Read more about alternatively fuelled vehicles in retail on Green Retail World

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6 December 2021: Ex-Ted Baker chief customer officer joins Onloan as board advisor

Former Ted Baker chief customer officer, Jennifer Stephens, has joined fashion rental subscription company Onloan as a board advisor.

Stephens left Ted Baker last month and now holds several business advisory and non-executive roles.

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2 December 2021: Boots recycling scheme offering double Advantage Card points

Throughout December and January consumers can earn double Advantage Card points when they use the Scan2Recycle scheme at Boots UK.

The in-store collection of hard-to-recycle beauty, cosmetic, wellness and dental products typically gives consumers £2.50 for every five packaging items returns. But for the next two months, consumers will receive points worth £5 to spend on more Boots goods.

Read more about Boots Scan2Recycle on Green Retail World

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1 December 2021: McKinsey says luxury pre-owned market set to boom

The pre-owned market in luxury goods “is no passing fad but presents a real and lasting opportunity”, according to global consultancy group McKinsey.

In a new report on the luxury resale market, McKinsey highlights significant consumer demand for pre-owned goods.

Overall, 75–80% of luxury consumers are still strictly new-product buyers, it explains, but consumer behaviours and sensibilities are changing – with many moving towards pre-owned products.

McKinsey offers several examples where there is an evolution under way, including in the watch market, where it expects resale will comprise a full third of the total market by 2025.

“These patterns have been accelerated by the pandemic, by digitisation, and by the so-called “generational headwind”: younger buyers (generation Z and millennials) are significantly more willing than generation X and older to purchase pre-owned products,” the McKinsey team wrote in an article published this week.

[Image credit: Green Retail World]

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