REWE Group Sustainability Report 2018

Sustainability Strategy

The Management Board has clearly defined the company’s position in its Guidelines for Sustainable Business Practices: “Sustainability is not a fleeting trend at REWE Group. Rather, it is a fundamental element of its business strategy.” REWE Group considers this to mean one thing: It assumes responsibility for its employees, deals fairly with partners and suppliers, promotes more sustainable product ranges, acts in an environmentally and climate friendly manner and serves as an advocate of biodiversity and a sustainable society.

GRI 102-18: Governance structure

GRI 102-19: Delegating authority

GRI 102-20: Executive-level responsibility for economic, environmental, and social topics

GRI 102-21: Consulting stakeholders on economic, environmental, and social topics

The sustainability strategy of REWE Group

As a leading international trade and tourism company, REWE Group is keenly aware of the special role it plays as an interface among producers, suppliers and consumers. For this reason, the sustainability strategy encompasses all of the company’s business operations in order to integrate more sustainable consumption and tourism into the entire marketplace. REWE Group formulates goals and is not afraid to tackle complex issues. In many cases, it has been a pacesetter introducing ideas that are now general standards. As it carries out its sustainability strategy, REWE Group conducts an intensive dialogue with stakeholders and enters binding, long-term partnerships. It does so because long-range improvements can be achieved only if all participants work together on the same goals. In applying this strategy, the company continuously expands its share of more sustainable products and services and introduces more sustainable consumption to larger and larger segments of the population.

Sustainability spelled out in the mission statement

In 2008, REWE Group added the following principle to its mission statement: “We are aware of our responsibility and act sustainably.” At the same time, the company also introduced a system of strategic sustainability management. In 2010, it defined its Guidelines for Sustainable Business Practices and established a binding operational framework that forms the foundation for REWE Group’s comprehensive commitment to sustainability. The goal was clearly defined from the start: Sustainability should be brought “out of its niche” and introduced to mainstream society.

In April 2019, REWE Group published its Human Rights Policy Statement. In this document, the combine commits to strengthening human rights and preventing human rights violations. This commitment applies both to its own business activities and to the global delivery and value chains.

While introducing its sustainability strategy, REWE Group created four pillars of sustainability in 2008:

  • Green Products
  • Energy, Climate and the Environment
  • Employees
  • Social Involvement
The company added areas of action within these pillars that outline the key issues of its commitment to sustainability.

In 2016, as part of its reorganisation of the company’s structure, REWE Group also realigned its sustainability organisation. The core element of this realignment was the provision of increased freedom to individual sales lines to carry out the sustainability strategy.

Implementation of the strategy in individual sales lines

When carrying out the sustainability strategy, the individual sales lines are given a lot of creative freedom in order to ensure maximum customisation of the strategy and business model to the specific needs of each sales line. For all sales lines, REWE Group’s four pillars of sustainability underpin the overarching strategy, and the Guidelines for Sustainable Business Practices serve as the joint direction and canon of values for the company’s commitment to sustainability. Within the areas of action defined for the four pillars of sustainability, each sales line focuses on the topics that are important for it.

The sustainability strategy of REWE Group and the sales lines is subject to an annual review in which all the available information, such as customer surveys, analyses of the competition, or analysis of political discourse are considered. As part of this review, a far-reaching materiality analysis was conducted from the end of 2018 until the start of 2019, with consumers and employees being the main respondents (for further information, see the Materiality analysis section).

For more information about REWE Group’s areas of action and the key performance indicators, see the higher-level management approaches for Green Products, Energy, Climate and the Environment, Employees and Social Involvement.

Pillars of sustainability and areas of action for the food retail sector in Germany

(valid since mid-2016)

Green Products

Areas of action:

  1. Fairness
  2. Conservation of resources
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Diet

Energy, Climate and the Environment

Areas of action:

  1. Energy efficiency
  2. Climate-relevant emissions
  3. Conservation of resources


Areas of action:

  1. Values and culture
  2. Training and professional growth
  3. Health and safety
  4. Job and phases of life
  5. Diversity and equal opportunity

Social Involvement

Areas of action:

  1. Conscious diets and exercise
  2. Opportunities for children
    and adolescents
  3. Vigilant approach to food
  4. Biodiversity and environmental

Sustainability organisation

At REWE Group, the company’s management has made sustainability its highest priority. Since the sustainability strategy was introduced in 2008, it had been directed by the CEO. The CEO believes that sustainable business practises are a precondition for the company’s long-term success ( see the foreword by Lionel Souque).

As part of the recalibration of the strategy in 2016, REWE Group bolstered the sustainability organisation within the individual sales lines and further integrated sustainability into business processes. In taking these steps, REWE Group is determined to develop sustainability measures in closer proximity to its business operations and customers and to introduce them more rapidly. Since 2017, a group-wide sustainability information event has been held twice a year so that best practices can be discussed among the management and divisional management levels of the individual sales lines (REWE, PENNY, Travel and Tourism, toom Baumarkt DIY stores and REWE International AG).

For the pillar Green Products, the new department Sustainable Products was created at REWE and PENNY in 2016. This new unit was placed directly within Purchasing and supports the development of sustainable assortments there.

In addition, the role of the former PRO PLANET Board of Advisers was modified and refined in 2018. As Sustainability Advisory Board consisting of five independent NGO experts, the Board of Advisers is involved in the development, assessment and implementation of all sustainability-related measures taken by the Sustainable Products department for the REWE and PENNY sales lines in Germany. This includes both further work within the PRO PLANET process and the continuous development of REWE Group’s sustainability strategy, e.g. through involvement in the creation and updating of guidelines.

Within the pillars of sustainability, project groups work across sales lines and in agile structures. Sustainability topics are exchanged, best practices are shared, and measures are initiated. Independent retailers are involved through various coordination meetings. This enables their ideas and experiences to flow into decisions regarding the development of sustainability at REWE Group. The Executive Board members or managing directors are responsible for each pillar, thus underscoring the importance of the pillars of sustainability and the work on them.
Measures based on the pillars of sustainability are developed to reflect the goals and the positioning of the sales lines. These steps are then approved during regular annual and strategy-planning sessions of the sales lines. As a result, the responsibility is integrated into established decision-making processes all the way to the operational level.

Each sales line has a sustainability unit to develop the sustainability strategy of the sales line:

Corporate Responsibility, based in Cologne, develops the sustainability strategy of REWE and PENNY in Germany in agreement with the respective strategy units and pillars of sustainability. It is also responsible for implementation of the sustainability strategy of the entire REWE Group and acts as a central interface between the sales lines and dealings with external stakeholders.

The sustainability organisation of REWE International AG is led by the Holding Management Board which is supported by the Sustainability executive department. Responsibility in the individual trade companies under the holding’s umbrella is assigned to the respective board members, management teams and top executives. Working and project groups for each of the four pillars of sustainability are responsible for putting the measures into effect. Sustainability plays an integrative role in business activities thanks to the inclusion of sustainability management in the strategies of the trade companies under the umbrella of REWE International AG.

Since March 2018, the Managing Director of Purchasing and Logistics has had the main responsibility for sustainability at toom Baumarkt DIY stores. As in the entire REWE Group, the sales line’s sustainability management is based on the four pillars of sustainability. toom has created a department in Purchasing that comprehensively coordinates the issue of sustainability, even beyond the continued expansion of assortments that include more sustainable products. Decisions about the sales line’s strategic focus, measures and projects are taken during the regular meetings of its sustainability committee. This committee is composed of representatives of the management team, managers for the pillars and other nominated employees from relevant departments.

The Chief Executive Officer of DER Touristik Group has the main responsibility for sustainability. The central Sustainability department helps the international Executive Board of DER Touristik Group develop the strategy and coordinates and controls the implementation measures. From 2019, the sustainability team will be set up as an executive department that reports directly to the CEO and has responsibility for DER Touristik Group. In 2019, a Sustainability Advisory Board will be established to advise management with regard to strategic priorities and initiatives, make decisions about operational implementation of the strategy and implement the sustainability goals in the individual business units.

Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the United Nations adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 objectives address the key challenges of sustainable development on a global level. The SDGs are to be reached by 2050 and are broken down into 169 targets. REWE Group is determined to support the effort to reach these goals through its commitment to sustainability. To do so, it has compared its sustainability strategy and business processes with the 17 goals and the related 169 targets. Following this analysis, sustainability managers at REWE Group prioritised the SDGs and targets. Their ranking of the most relevant SDGs was taken up during a podium discussion held as part of the REWE Group Dialogue Forum with stakeholders in 2016. The feedback provided by stakeholders was used in an overall ranking in which the following SDGs were given a high priority for REWE Group:

  • Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12)
  • Life on Land (SDG 15)
  • Life Below Water (SDG 14)
  • Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8)
  • Zero Hunger (SDG 2)
  • Affordable and Clean Energy (SDG 7)

For these six goals, REWE Group identified 27 SDG targets in total, which are of particular relevance for its business activities.

The analysis shows that REWE Group’s sustainability activities will help to achieve the SDGs and targets ranked as relevant and identifies additional potential for future activities.

You will find more information about work of the pillars of sustainability in this report:

More topics:

REWE Group Portrait

GRI 102-1 – 102-7, 102-10

Employee Structure

GRI 102-8, 102-41

Supply Chain

GRI 102-9

Risk Management

GRI 102-11

Industry Initiatives and Memberships

GRI 102-12, 102-13

Principles and Guidelines

GRI 102-16, 102-17

Stakeholder Dialogue

GRI 102-40, 102-42 – 102-44

Materiality Analysis

GRI 102-45 – 102-47, 102-49

Report Profile

GRI 102-48, 102-50 – 102-56

Economic Performance

GRI 201


GRI 205, 206, 307, 419

Public Policy

GRI 415

Data protection

GRI 418