Sustainability is not a fleeting trend at the REWE Group. Rather, it is a fundamental element of its business strategy.” With this statement, the Management Board has clearly defined the company’s position in its Guidelines on Sustainable Business Practises. The 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 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 the REWE Group
As a leading international trade and tourism company, the REWE Group is keenly aware of the special role it plays as an interface among producers, suppliers and consumers. For this reason, the company’s sustainability strategy encompasses all areas of its business operations for the purpose of integrating more sustainable consumption and tourism into the general marketplace. The REWE Group draws up clear objectives in this effort and does not shy away from tackling complex problems. In taking this approach, it has acted as a pacesetter who has developed new approaches that have become widely employed standards. In implementing its sustainability strategy, the REWE Group conducts an intense dialogue with its stakeholders and enters into binding, long-term partnerships. After all, improvements can only be achieved if all stakeholders work towards common goals. In applying this strategy, the company continuously expands its share of more sustainable products and services and introduces the idea of more sustainable consumption to larger and larger segments of the population.
Sustainability: a key aspect of the mission statement
In 2008, the REWE Group added the words “We are aware of our responsibility and act sustainably” to its Company Mission Statement and set up a strategic sustainability management system. In 2010, it defined its Guidelines on Sustainable Business Practices and established a binding operational framework that forms the foundation for the REWE Group’s comprehensive commitment to sustainability. In taking these steps, the company acted as the trailblazer who lifted the issue of sustainability from its niche existence and turned it into mainstream matter for society as a whole. Today, the company is working to integrate sustainability into many other areas.
The REWE Group issued its Declaration of principles on human rights in April 2019. In this document, the combine commits itself to strengthening human rights and preventing human rights violations. This commitment applies both to its own business activities and to those of its global supply and value chains.
One of the main motivating factors behind the REWE Group’s commitment to sustainability is its desire to fuel the achievement of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Eight of these goals are particularly relevant to the REWE Group and are discussed in the section Sustainable Development Goals in terms of potential impacts and the value chain.
The REWE Group introduced four pillars of sustainability in 2008 for the purpose of implementing its sustainability strategy:
- Green Products
- Energy, Climate and the Environment
- Social Commitment
Areas of action for each pillar define the key issues of the company’s sustainability commitment.
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 to ensure maximum customisation of their own strategy and individual business model. For all sales lines, the higher-level topics of REWE Group’s four pillars of sustainability and the Guidelines on Sustainable Business Practises serve as the joint roadmap and canon of values for the commitment to sustainability. Within this strategic framework, each sales line focuses on the topics that are important to it. For example, DER Touristik Group has defined the following five strategic areas of action for itself: “Environment and Nature", “Customers and Products”, “Partners and Travel Destinations”, “Employees” and “Society”.
The sustainability strategies of the REWE Group and its sales lines undergo regular reviews that consider all available information, including surveys of customers, competitor analysis and analysis of political debates. In 2020, the company conducted in-depth materiality analysis in which consumers, employees and expert stakeholders were surveyed (for additional information, see the section Materiality Analysis). The results of this analysis were used to help to prioritise issues for 2022.
For more information about the areas of action and key performance indicators, see the higher-level management approaches for Green Products, Energy, Climate and the Environment, Employees and Social Commitment.
At the REWE Group, sustainability is one of the top priorities of the company’s leading managers. Since the sustainability strategy was introduced in 2008, it has been directed by the CEO. This executive believes that sustainable business practises are a precondition for the company’s long-term success (see the foreword by Lionel Souque).
The four pillars of sustainability are overseen by Executive Board members or Managing Directors. This fact underscores the high priority that the company has given to the pillars and reflects the amount of work that goes into the issue. A discussion about sustainability issues takes place within the pillars of sustainability. Optimal and model methods, practises and approaches are shared and measures initiated. Project groups work together on the issues in a process that extends across sale lines and uses agile structures. The sales lines draw on these four pillars to develop measures that reflect their goals and positioning. These measures are then approved as part of the sales lines’ annual and strategy planning. As a result, responsibility extending all the way to the operation level is integrated into established decision-making processes.
The Department of Corporate Responsibility is responsible for implementing the sustainability strategy of the entire REWE Group and acts as a central interface between the sales lines and in dealings with external stakeholders.
As part of a strategic repositioning conducted in 2016, the REWE Group bolstered the sustainability organisation within the individual sales lines and integrated sustainability even more deeply into the company’s business processes. The objective of the REWE Group’s work here was to develop sustainability measures that focus more closely on the company’s business and customers and to accelerate implementation. Twice a year, a Group-wide sustainability information event is held for the purpose of facilitating the dialogue on the management and Executive Board level among the individual sales lines (REWE, PENNY, Lekkerland, DER Touristik, toom Baumarkt DIY Stores and REWE International AG). The event is also used to promote the dialogue with such stakeholders as non-governmental organisations and share best practices. During the financial year, the REWE Group conducted these meetings as digital events due to the coronavirus pandemic just as it did in 2020.
Responsibility in the individual sales lines
For REWE and PENNY in Germany, the Department of Corporate Responsibility further refined the sustainability strategy in coordination with and under the supervision of the Executive Board members of the four pillars of sustainability – together with the particular strategy and specialists departments. The department assigned a key account employee for REWE and PENNY who will advance the sustainability strategy of the sales lines. The Department of Sustainability Products is responsible for the pillar Green Products. It reports directly to Purchasing and helps to design sustainable product ranges there.
The Sustainability advisory board
The Sustainability Advisory Board consists of five independent experts and representatives of non-governmental organisations. It is involved in the development, assessment and implementation of sustainability-related measures of the REWE and PENNY sales lines in Germany. This includes both work within the PRO PLANET process and the continuous fine-tuning of the REWE Group’s sustainability strategy, e.g. through involvement in the creation and updating of guidelines. For more information, see the section PRO PLANET and Stakeholder Dialogue.
At toom Baumarkt DIY Stores, the management team of Purchasing and Logistics has had the chief responsibility for sustainability since 2018. Sustainability management is organised here on the basis of the four pillars of sustainability just as it is in the entire REWE Group. In addition, a specialist department in Purchasing continuously works on the issue. This department’s responsibility includes optimising the product range with more sustainable products and coordination of sustainability issues throughout toom Baumarkt DIY Stores. Decisions about the strategic focus, measures and projects are taken by a sustainability committee at regular meetings. This committee is composed of representatives of the management team, managers for the pillars and other nominated employees from relevant specialist departments.
The central sustainability department helps the International Management Board of the DER Touristik Group to develop strategy as well as coordinates and manages implementation measures. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) assumes the main responsibility for sustainability at the DER Touristik Group. The sustainability officers of the individual country units are represented in an international CR board where they discuss their particular needs. Strategic focal-point issues of the DER Touristik Group could be jointly defined as a result. The board meets once a year to conduct a review and do additional planning. It also holds regular discussions about current issues. Local CR steering committees in the national units coordinate and steer sustainability topics at the local level. A CR steering committee for Germany, Austria and Switzerland was set up at the end of 2019. It is composed of managers from the relevant departments and its responsibilities include the development and regional implementation of the group strategy.
At Lekkerland, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) oversees the issue of sustainability. Overall management of the sustainability strategy of the Lekkerland Group is done by the Department of Quality Management and Corporate Responsibility. In 2021, Lekkerland was integrated into various working groups and projects related to the sustainability issues of the REWE Group on a step-by-step basis.
The sustainability organisation of REWE Group in Austria is led by the Management Board of REWE International AG, which is supported by the Sustainability Department. Responsibility in the individual trade companies under the umbrella of REWE International AG is assigned to the respective board members, management teams and top executives. Working and project groups involved in each of the four sustainability pillars are responsible for implementation of measures. As a result of the tight integration of sustainability management into the strategies of the trade companies under the umbrella of REWE International AG, sustainability is an integral part of its business activities.
You will find more information about the approaches of the pillars of sustainability here in the report: