OPINION: Huge European home improvement group Kingfisher laid out significant responsible business commitments earlier this month, including over sustainable product sales.
Coming from the owner of Screwfix, Castorama, B&Q, Brico Dépôt and Koçtaş (over 1,380 stores as well as the associated online retail websites), this is no small deal.
Kingfisher CEO Thierry Garnier outlined the group’s plans and also singled out growing “demand from customers for sustainable products”. Products like LED lighting and chemical-free gardening products and “energy-efficient power tools” now account for £5 billion of Kingfisher’s sales. Garnier promptly went on to say: “There is more to do”.
Kingfisher’s wide-reaching plan covers everything from doubling a commitment to communities – including helping two million people who live in unfit housing – to strengthening its carbon reduction commitments to align with the 1.5C scenario set out in the Paris Climate Agreement.
Sustainable product and eco-friendly packaging
But back to those ‘sustainable home products’. The definition of an ‘energy efficient power tool’ is surely up for debate, but the intention is clear. With a 100% increase in demand for such products, accounting for 42% of sales, Kingfisher will be looking for more suppliers to help it nudge that percentage higher.
With the best will in the world, fasteners and fixings are unlikely to be top of Kingfisher’s priority list, but if the industry is hoping to dodge the eco spotlight then it might be disappointed. Can we expect a lot more fastener and tool suppliers to Kingfisher to be going for ISO 14001? Surely yes.
Kingfisher is hoping for some good PR with this announcement, and good luck to it. However, the truth is that the larger corporates and end users have been requiring suppliers of fasteners and other products to uphold certain sustainability standards. Kingfisher is the latest, albeit high profile, customer to ramp up the sustainability rhetoric, where other DIY and home improvement retailers will undoubtedly follow.
Kingfisher’s pledge also saw a renewed commitment to responsible sourcing of wood and paper for its products. A new partnership with the Rainforest Alliance will help Kingfisher deliver its commitment to become forest positive - creating more forests than it uses - by 2025. With the UK’s plastic packaging tax coming into force in April 2022, the onus is being placed on suppliers, manufacturers and importers to get their eco-house in order.