Wholesalers should go for green

Green corporate policies are high on the agenda of the big four and many other retail groups, such as Marks Spencer’s five-year green plan.

With all the talk and perhaps hype which surrounds businesses doing their bit to reduce their carbon footprint what are independent retailers opinions about going green?

It could be assumed that this is all a little far removed from the concerns of independent retailers because they are too focused on just keeping their business on course in this tough market place to worry about the planet. But that assumption would be wrong.

Independent retailers tell HIM, as part of our Cash Carry Retailer Tracking Programme. that they are ‘going green’. Sixty per cent say green or environmental issues are important to their businesses and they believe green issues will become more important over the next two years.

They also recognise that their shoppers are becoming increasingly concerned about environmental issues and want to be part of this trend.

Many independent retailers are already doing fantastic things, such as swapping the traditional plastic bag in favour of a 100% recycled paper bag or bio-degradeable plastic carrier, or introducing a bag for life.

Some retailers are using low emission, or electric cars or vans for business purposes and deliveries, and many are already sourcing products locally to reduce their carbon footprint.

All of these initiatives can really give an independent retailer a competitive edge in the eye of the consumer especially in today’s tough market place.

So how can wholesalers and suppliers get involved in helping the independent retailer become greener? We already know that 19% of retailers keep up to date with developments in the market place through reading the trade press and 14% of retailers turn to leaflets and information provided in the depot by the wholesaler.

Both parties can be seen as supporting and helping to develop the retailers business by providing information on initiatives they can implement to be greener and on subjects such as carbon footprints, changes in packaging and labelling by manufacturers, recycling etc.

Independent retailers are open to exploring different strategies to reduce their carbon footprint, but are wholesalers and suppliers providing the support that they need?

Do wholesalers offer recycling points at their depots so that retailers can recycle their cardboard boxes before going shopping?

Although there is a cost implication for the wholesaler this would be a fantastic way to increase loyalty with its customers and get them to the depot instead of having items delivered. Are manufacturers or suppliers looking to reduce the amount of packaging used to wrap boxes as this is one of the biggest problem for retailers – storing and disposing of unwanted packaging.

Even smaller businesses can achieve real returns from investments in green initiatives across their operations. By doing so they will increase their environmental credentials and competitiveness in the marketplace.

“Every business and individual needs to do their bit to tackle the enormous challenges of climate change and waste,” says former Booker chief executive and M S boss, Sir Stuart Rose.

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