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DEC 11, 2012

IE Foundation and Ernst & Young present report on the retail sector as an engine for sustainability

IE Business School Foundation has drafted a report in collaboration with Ernst & Young on the retail sector as change engine for the sustainability of production and consumption.

The report, which was presented on November 28, shows the different practices that enable the retail sector to use its strategic position to influence suppliers and consumers in real and effective terms, thereby improving levels of sustainability at every stage of the product’s value chain. Despite not obtaining a significant return on investment in the short or medium term, such improvements in the retailer’s environment constitute a source of value creation and economic sustainability.

The report was presented by Dr. Javier Carrillo, associate researcher of IE Business School Foundation and professor at Alcalá de Henares University, Dr. Pablo del Río, associate researcher of IE Business School Foundation and scientist at CSIC (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas - Scientific Research Council), and Tomás Pastor, executive director of climate change and sustainability services at Ernst & Young. The presentation was followed by a round table with sustainability representatives from the Dia Group, Ikea and Makro, Despite being from companies in very different business situations and which operate in very different markets, the representatives agreed on the importance of a retailer being able to influence suppliers and consumers when it comes to adopting more sustainable types of behavior.

Eloy Quiñones, head of quality at MAKRO, stated that the company plays a key role in influencing clients who purchase fish form them. “This year we have defined our sustainability policy with regard to the sale of fish because we are committed to sustainable fishing practices. We want to begin to inform our customers about what sustainable fishing entails. In Spain there is still a lot of work to do in terms of dissemination and raising awareness. We need to inform the consumer about fish that come from sustainable fish farms that guarantee a sustainable supply chain”.

Francisco Comino, director of sustainable development and CSR at DIA GROUP said that the retailer should not try to influence customers but rather listen to them in order to carry out their mission, which is to satisfy customer needs. “Sustainability is the effectiveness and optimization of resources to meet the needs of the client.”

Mercedes Gutiérrez, sustainability manager at IKEA, underlined the fact that her company has a responsibility to encourage the 651 million customers that come to its stores to live in a more sustainable manner. “What do we do to ensure that the consumer can live more sustainably at the lowest possible cost? We work with suppliers and designers to develop products and solutions.”

Margarita Velásquez, general director of IE Foundation, said that “Publications like the IE Foundation Advanced Series and workshops like those held today are a prime example of how IE aims to serve as a meeting point where the academic and business community can stop and reflect, share knowledge and come up with new approaches and solutions for the challenges now facing our environment and society.”