In October 2022, our retail leaders Lisa Bora, James Stewart and KPMG’s Sustainability Director Sarah Newman hosted an engaging discussion with special guests, Andrew Davies, CEO at B Lab and Michael Hardwick, CFO at Cotton On Group.

The retail sector continues to grow more than ever despite the headwinds; however, we predict a much tougher retail market moving forwards.  We continue to see a paradigm shift in consumer behaviour as they increasingly demand convenience, unique experiences and more so than ever, an organisation that simply does good.

However, you can’t do it alone. The idea of interdependence is the grounding principle on which retailers will continue to build sustainability. We have seen a change in business thinking in the last few years that recognises the need for retailers to understand those upon whom you depend on to run their business and account for them in some way.

Covid has accelerated and educated consumers that being sustainable, in an environmental sense, is more than just caring for the planet, it’s also about caring for biodiversity and for people.

James Stewart
Global Retail Restructuring Lead
KPMG Australia

The purpose from day one was to make a positive difference in people’s lives; teams, customers, and communicates. It’s amazing how many people you can bring on that journey if you have inspired them from the beginning.

Michael Hardwick
CFO at Cotton On Group

Key takeaways from the session

These challenges include the complexity of their supply chain, the need to address very specific stakeholder needs, the growing climate crisis, complex tradeoffs, and the temptation for retailers to focus only on the product and supply chain, it’s vital to also see the that retailers can change people’s lives for the better in the way they operationally run the business.

Different retailers are at different levels of ESG maturity. What is important is making a start with small ideas that will build into something significant, be that in design, store development, logistics or finance for retailers.

Government plays a significant role, especially in the circular economy and we will need regulatory change to occur, there is a role for Government to continue to shift the bar. Technology is also a critical enabler for retailers to help lead the way due to the complex nature of supply chains and key stakeholders.

Sustainability is not a consumer trend; it is a structural shift that is being driven at all layers. Retailers are seeing more than ever that employees want to work for brands that align with their values. There is a real shift in thinking about why a business exists and how it can solve some of the largest and most complex problems.

In order to grow as a business, having a strong purpose embedded within your organisation is key. Being clear on your goals and ambitions and openly recognising the challenges ahead to achieve them will encourage others to join the journey.

Watch the webinar

How can KPMG help?

What and how to execute on ESG can be complex and confusing. No longer a siloed concept, ESG is something you need to embed in your organisation’s entire strategy and operations.

We help you understand what ESG means for your business – equipping you with the insights, advice and technologies you need to accelerate your ESG journey.

Discover how we can help.

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