Massmart Annual Report 2008

Further reading

Fijitsu Siemens e-waste recycling
Impilo wellness programme
Massmart carbon footprint

 
Grant Pattison
 

“We appreciate the pivotal role we can play in advocating socially responsible behaviour to our suppliers and customers."

Letter from the CEO

Massmart’s approach to sustainability has matured appreciably over the past 12 months and is exerting increasing influence on the way we do business. We’re more alert to the social and environmental implications of our decisions and better able to identify opportunities to make a positive difference. Where previously Massmart might have been content to focus mainly on internal operations, we now appreciate the pivotal role we can play in advocating socially responsible behaviour to our suppliers and customers.

Seeking greater supplier transparency

Massmart is seeking greater transparency from suppliers and asking where merchandise comes from, what it’s made of, how it’s manufactured and what impact it has on the environment. This is generating new types of supplier partnerships like the Makro/Fujitsu Siemens project we’re piloting for electronic waste (e-waste) recycling. Because it’s no longer appropriate to simply supply to indiscriminate consumer demand, we’re creating awareness about the more responsible product choices available to our customers. We’ve created the Eco-wise environmental advocacy programme for just this purpose.

Investing in employee wellness

Over the past year, Massmart has also scrutinised internal practices and prioritised health issues affecting employees. An important result has been the extension of our Impilo wellness programme – which includes HIV/Aids treatment – to offer free in-store staff screening for diabetes, cholesterol, tuberculosis, and high blood pressure. We’ve also introduced more affordable company-subsidised primary health cover for permanent employees unable to afford membership of our other Group health schemes. Organisation’s in developing countries like ours have a greater duty of care to employees, so I regard these wellness interventions as among the most vital sustainability initiatives we run.

Supporting school-feeding schemes

Within the communities we serve, our Group has continued to support education and we’re particularly pleased that a portion of each division’s Corporate Social Investment spend supports school-feeding programmes. The Game-sponsored container kitchens and Makro’s financial support for organisations like the African Children’s Feeding Scheme have made an important difference in the lives of disadvantaged learners. I’ve been fortunate to attend a number of container kitchen handovers and was struck by the impact that corporate South Africa can have on the lives of less well-off citizens. What we saw and learned during one such handover led to an opportunity to expand the Group’s school-feeding involvement to include erecting Builders Warehouse-sponsored vegetable tunnels at the schools we support. This will not only improve the quality of nutrition learners receive, but will also introduce the concepts of sustainability into our feeding projects.

Calculating our carbon footprint

While Massmart’s primary focus is on the local context, global environmental concerns still remain top of mind. We were pleased to successfully complete a first pass project to calculate the Group’s carbon footprint, but weren’t surprised to learn that the majority of our greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to energy consumption. As a result, we’ve renewed our efforts to reduce energy consumption in stores and we’re keen to work more meaningfully with suppliers to develop a shared environmental agenda for action.

We balance our successes against the understanding that there’s always more we can do to improve our sustainability performance. Massmart is beginning to approach tougher issues with greater confidence, issues like how we can benefit from flexible staffing without marginalising our non-permanent employees and how retailers can distribute sensitive merchandise, such as tobacco products, more responsibly. We will, for the foreseeable future, maintain our focus on improving staff health and welfare, investing in black economic empowerment, minimising environmental impacts and advocating responsible consumerism to customers and suppliers.

Grant Pattison

Grant Pattison
Chief Executive Officer

September 2008