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CEO and Chairman Interview


President and Chief Executive Officer
Pierre-Olivier Beckers

Why have you decided to create a 2020 sustainability strategy?

Sustainability is about the long term. If we are going to be successful in our work on sustainability we need to be thinking and planning long term. That’s why we have moved our focus from a three year horizon towards 2020. The ‘ambition’ sets down a marker, a place we want to get to. The strategy will guide us to that place. We recognize that with sustainability you need the ‘ambition’, the wider view of where you are headed, not just a strategy. It’s a very complex and often emotive issue, so a strategy on its own is not enough.

You now talk about ‘Sustainability’ rather than ‘Corporate Responsibility’. Why is this?

We formalized our first Corporate Responsibility strategy in 2008 and launched it in 2009. For us it has always been about managing the health of people, products, and planet. Since 2009 we have come to understand that the term ‘sustainability’ is a better description for our approach and thinking. We know that sustainability is fundamental to business success, both from a cost and a revenue perspective.

With Rio +20 coming up, 2012 is a big year for sustainable development. The food industry is increasingly at the center of the global debate because it’s integral to people’s everyday lives. How do you see Delhaize Group’s sustainability strategy fitting into the bigger picture?

We expect Rio+20 to strengthen the focus on the connections between issues like the economy, resource scarcity and the eradication of poverty. We are a large company spanning many countries; we hire a large number of people; and we are in contact with millions of consumers on a daily basis, so we have an important role to play in achieving a more sustainable world. Our 2020 ambition was launched to give a better focus to Delhaize Group’s role in the solution. We hope that building stronger and deeper connections across the value chain will mean we are increasingly effective in this.

Chairman of the Board of Directors
Count Jacobs de Hagen

Looking ahead to 2020, what do you believe Delhaize Group’s biggest challenges and opportunities around sustainability will be along the way?

We have already seen the pressure a global financial crisis can exert. With sustainability being so broad and exciting, it’s going to be increasingly hard to focus on the projects that can have the biggest impact.

Our strategy pushes us hard to influence areas beyond our direct control. This isn’t going to be easy. Even though we are working with great partners, we’ll need to work with more. We will have to be creative to find solutions that deliver shared value. This is a big challenge but also a great opportunity.

Another big opportunity is innovation – both exploring new sustainable products and working to better engage and enthuse our
160 000 associates. If we can inspire each one of them to find solutions to sustainability challenges the opportunities are immense.

 

 

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