Kingfisher is Europe's largest home improvement retailer, with 1,300 stores and 9,000 employees in 16 countries. Its operating companies include BCC (The Netherlands), Promarkt (Germany), Vanden Borre (Belgium), Darty (France), Comet (UK), B&Q (UK), Koçtas (Turkey) and Réno-Dépôt (Canada).
In 2001 the group achieved a turnover of £12.1 billion ($17.5 billion) and a pre-tax profit of £606 million ($878 million).
At the end of 2001, Kingfisher unveiled a group-wide initiative to monitor, improve and report on corporate social responsibility issues at the level of individual companies.
The group has identified six ways in which it believes CSR can help its business:
Kingfisher has devised a 'ladder' model to simplify the assessment of CSR within operating companies. The ladder has four rungs. The bottom rung is 'Managing the risk', and the next rung up is 'Managing the issues', followed by 'Creating an opportunity' and finally 'Leadership' at the top. Company managers will have to decide where their businesses currently stand on each of 12 separate 'ladders', each representing a key issue such as waste, climate change or community relations (see below). They are also asked to identify where they would like eventually to be on the ladder, and to propose a realistic timescale.
These action plans are due for completion by the end of April 2002, and a group-wide CSR report will be published in the spring of 2003.
The CSR initiative will be co-ordinated by a nine-person 'social responsibility committee', which now includes include six members of the main board of directors as well as Kingfisher's head of social responsibility, Dr Alan Knight. A' social responsibility team', working closely with the committee, will provide coaching and advice to managers within individual operating companies, and will also be responsible for reporting progress both internally and to the outside world.
One of the challenges for Kingfisher is to develop a strategy that is flexible enough to accommodate the differences between individual businesses yet strong enough to reflect a common vision.
Kingfisher's definition of social responsibility entails 'making sure that in helping our customers improve their quality of life we do not destroy someone else's'. It adds: 'That might mean improving the working conditions in the factories that make the products we sell, using renewable energy sources, or making sure our equal opportunities policies are robust.'
Group chief executive Sir Geoff Mulcahy says several of Kingfisher's subsidiaries have been active in CSR for some years already, particularly in terms of environmental stewardship. 'We believe it is now time to co-ordinate these activities more rigorously, at group level.'
The 12 key issues identified by Kingfisher