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Study shows retailers serious about green performance

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Philadelphia Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Walmart, Target, and other big retailers are putting policies, management systems, and programs in place to drive higher environmental and social performance in their own organizations and across their supply chains, according to a new benchmarking study of the sustainability performance of major retailers.

The report -- the second in Five Winds International’s three-part GreenBiz series about retailers’ rising role in sustainability -- graphically ranks retailers’ environmental, social and governance practices and also provides strategic guidance for retailers and consumer-goods suppliers.

“The results show that big players in the sector are serious about improving performance,” explained Kevin Brady, Five Winds’ co-founder and director of strategic sustainability services. “And the level of activity and investments require to reach the level of performance we are seeing is an indication that sustainability will be a strategic priority within the sector for years to come.”

To shed some light on retailers’ performance, Five Winds’ benchmarked over 400 performance business practices, and the results show that the leading companies are “walking the talk” with comprehensive sustainability initiatives. The survey found that such companies as Tesco, Marks & Spencer, and Wal-Mart are differentiating themselves and setting best practices by branding their sustainability efforts, setting clear priorities, and establishing comprehensive implementation programs. Other retailers who want to claim leadership in sustainability will need to look holistically at these leaders’ efforts, according to the survey.

“Retailers can use the study results to inform their strategies and tactics, but the findings also have important implications for consumer goods suppliers who want to better understand their major trade partners’ sustainability efforts and align their product strategies,” said Libby Bernick, who leads Five Winds’ retail sector services.

The white paper, “Retail: A Sustainability Benchmark,” is available for download at GreenBiz.com and is part of Five Winds’ retail initiative developed to support brand managers and sustainability managers at consumer goods manufacturers.

© 2014