South African retail group Woolworths was named the 2012 international “responsible retailer of the year”, alongside joint British winner Marks & Spencer at the World Retail Congress in London last week. This is the third consecutive time that Woolworths has received the award.
“Woolworths was shortlisted in recognition of our commitment to our sustainability programme that we call our good business journey through all facets of the business,” the retailer said in a statement. It recognises our ongoing commitment to improving the lives of people and doing our best to protect the planet.”
Four other retailers were shortlisted with Woolworths and Marks & Spencer. These were: Pick n Pay, Coop Switzerland, The Co-operative in the United Kingdom, and Turkcell Iletisim A.S. from Turkey.
“This award honours our customers, shareholders, suppliers and employees who understand that our country’s future growth depends on all of us doing our bit to contribute to a better environment and society that we all share,” said Woolworths good business journey manager Justin Smith.
“It indicates yet again that South Africa is on the global retail map and is competing successfully with the best on a consistent basis.”
Woolworths’ 2015 good business journey programme focuses on six areas: sustainable farming, protecting water supplies, reducing energy use, improving waste management, making a contribution to social development and supporting transformation initiatives. It is one of only five South African companies – and the country’s only retailer – to be included on the world’s most respected sustainability index, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI).
Woolworths was also named as one of the 16 sustainability champions in the developing world by the World Economic Forum, as well as being listed as one of the 10 most innovative companies in South Africa by Forbes Magazine in July this year. It was also included in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) index for 2011/12 and was named as one of the index’s best performers.
“Our philosophy is that the true sustainability of a company is reliant on its continuous good performance, as well as a sustainable society and environment,” Woolworths chief executive officer, Ian Moir, said in the company’s 2012 good business journey report.