Massmart Annual Report 2008

Further reading

See Exchanging ideas with the experts

Please see Corporate Governance in the ANNUAL REPORT 2008


The increasing demand for responsible corporate behaviour needs more that gestures.


That's why we've helped structure a programme of debate with the experts at UNISA's Centre for Corporate Citizenship.
UNISA Centre for Corporate Citizenship in Pretoria



Our stakeholders have a legitimate need for information about our business. We’re working hard to understand our stakeholder priorities and respond constructively to achieve mutual commitment to positive and beneficial action.

2008 Stakeholder responsiveness highlights

Stakeholder Priority   Massmart Response
Eskom and the Department of Mineral Affairs and Energy appeal to consumers to reduce consumption of electricity.   Massmart identifies further opportunities to conserve electricity and leverages its marketing materials to promote customer awareness.
Civil society expresses outrage at xenophobic violence and appeals for support to aid refugee relief efforts.   Massmart provides support to a community of 650 refugees in Rabie Ridge.
Government, civil society and organised labour express concern about rising food prices.   Massmart engages pro-actively in National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) process to identify solutions, and participates in academic and civil society research initiatives.
Department of Health raises awareness of the high incidence of cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.   Massmart increases the scope of its free Impilo wellness programme to include blood screening for cholesterol and diabetes.
Carbon disclosure project launches first CDP report in South Africa (2007) and appeals to listed companies to improve carbon disclosure.   Massmart calculates carbon footprint and participates fully in 2008 CDP submission process.
Special interests and industry bodies highlight need to improve food safety protocols.   Massmart launches programme to extend private label food safety audits to branded food products.
Ethics Institute of South Africa requests assistance to measure ethical practice amongst listed companies.   Massmart agrees, in the context of anti-competitive practices in the food industry, to contribute funds to survey business ethics amongst listed companies.
Direct import suppliers indicate that they have insufficient insight into Massmart’s supply chain practices.   Massmart hosts supply chain workshops in Shanghai, Xiamen, Taipei, Hong Kong and Shenzhen with 32 globally based suppliers.
Customers indicate that they have insufficient access to information to enable environmentally friendly shopping.   Massmart designs the Eco-wise customer advocacy programme to improve awareness of environmental purchasing considerations.

2008 Feedback

Improve information available to stakeholders on Massmart website.
We implemented a dedicated Sustainability option on our website that covers key sustainability topics.

Implement real time online accessibility to Massmart bi-annual results presentations.
We implemented web casts for our financial results presentations.

Publish a simplified annual report for staff shareholders.
We launched a financial results feature in Personal Best, the Massmart internal news magazine.

2009 Priorities

Reconstitute the Massmart Sustainability Committee to include representation by civil society.

Assist the Ethics Institute of South Africa to launch an Ethics Survey  that assesses the ethical practice of South African listed companies.

Workshop the Massmart/UNISA  Centre for Corporate Citizenship – Brand citizenship scenarios with key  suppliers. 


How we engage stakeholders

We proactively contact various stakeholders, individually and collectively, to share information and gain an appreciation for their perspectives. Our correspondents are varied and include government departments, South African legislature, industry bodies, academic institutions and civil society organisations such as WWF, Umsobomvu Youth Fund, WDB, the Ethics Institute of South Africa and the South African Institute of Race Relations.

The more stakeholders we engage, the closer we get to minimising the negative effects our supply chain might have on the societies in which our suppliers and we operate. We do this with the knowledge that just as there will be times when we will be able to change our behaviour, there will be other occasions when we’ll be unable to move beyond the status quo.

Exchanging ideas with the experts

Looking for a better understanding of our obligations as a responsible corporate citizen, we established a relationship with the UNISA Centre for Corporate Citizenship in 2007. This year, we’ve consolidated our partnership by structuring a programme of engagement with their environmental, social development and social investment experts. Our regular roundtable discussions are occasions for robust debate about a wide range of topics from the corporate responses to the energy crisis, food security and xenophobic violence to the merits of outsourcing Massmart’s CSI efforts.

Our flagship project has been researching and developing African scenarios for brand citizenship. This initiative, which included funding a project with scenario planners, resulted in a series of workshops and interviews with a cross-section of business and civil society stakeholders to understand good brand citizenship and how to accomplish it.

Working with these stakeholder representatives, we’ve begun developing a locally relevant definition for meaningful brand citizenship in our business context and we anticipate having findings to share with our suppliers in early 2009.

Working with the Ethics Institute of South Africa

Massmart has had a close relationship with the Ethics Institute of South Africa since 2004. Reviews of the state of ethics within our company are conducted twice annually and recently, we’ve begun seeking the institute’s advice about how to advocate greater external awareness about corporate ethics, especially amongst our supplier base.

With allegations of price-fixing in the food industry involving certain of our suppliers earlier this year, our discussions with the Ethics Institute took on even greater importance.

We decided to fund, together with the institute, a corporate ethics survey that will enable South African JSE-listed companies to assess their ethical practice relative to their peers.


Tackling ongoing social and industrial challenges

There are issues of immediate national concern that still require solutions, like the current energy crisis. We have made contact with national energy supplier, Eskom, to understand how we could be of assistance by, for instance, leveraging our store network and marketing capabilities to create consumer awareness about ways to reduce household energy consumption. One Eskom-funded campaign we’re already involved in is helping consumers replace incandescent light bulbs with more energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Another pressing social concern is the high inflation rate, particularly in food. The South African government has established a Food Monitoring Committee to track food pricing and has committed itself to identifying opportunities to minimise the impact on vulnerable people. In this regard, we have participated in the NEDLAC process to work towards an extension of social support for the people most impacted by rising food prices.

A third concern, crime, continues to worry most South Africans. We engage closely with our retail peers, the South African Police Services and industry organisations to fight the scourge, and the Chairman of our Board serves as chairperson of the Business Against Crime initiative.