Emerging Trends in Sustainability in Retail

Panel discussion on Sustainability in Retail

From L to R: Surender Gnanaolivu, Executive Vice President and Head – Marketing,
Brand Experience and Store Development, Mahindra Retail Pvt Ltd; Siddharth Bindra, MD, BiBa; Sudhir Soundalgekar, CCA & Head Lifestyle & Specialty Projects, Shoppers Stop Ltd



Opening Remarks

Moderator: Ravi Singh, CEO & Secretary General WWF

03• The world is today consuming 1.5 planets worth of resources annually.

• Demand for certain commodities such as palm oil, milk and beef (buffalo meat) is threatening India’s biodiversity.

• Owing to its direct contact with consumers, the retail industry is in a position to drive change towards sustainability.

• Experience with mature markets shows that the ‘tipping point’ towards structural sustainability is when consumers adopt and are willing to pay for sustainable products.

What are your initiatives towards sustainability?

• Our sustainability initiatives are driven by decisions that make business sense.

• Three objectives for sustainability initiatives:

1. Reduce Energy: overall energy spends down by 15% by using LEDs lights

2. Reduce Emissions: changing air conditioning filters regularly; reducing carry bag usage; reduce travel by using video conferencing.

3. Reduce Resources: reusing and resizing building fixtures, saved 18% maintenance costs.

• This disciplined approach to sustainability has ensured cost savings  every 11th store free.

Surender Gnanaolivu, EVP, Mahindra Retail

M&M sustainability ethos at a group level runs deep. The challenge was to adapt to Retail.


What are your initiatives towards sustainability?

• Typically manufacturing processes such as printing release a lot of effluents. So we try to maintain a control on that.

• Textile plant use chemicals which are environmentally friendly because they also cater to the European market.  Have had these extended to India.

• Progressive standards in manufacturing, are being applied by default, to the Indian market.

Siddharth Bindra, Owner, BIBA

We are launching a range of organic cotton to gauge customer willingness to adopt and pay a premium

What are your initiatives towards sustainability?

• Sustainability was driven top-down, by business requirements.

• Reduce: Lighting / Air conditioning. As power tariffs increased, there was pressure to reduce usage.

• Reuse: Rainwater harvesting / Storm water drainage based reuse of water resources for air conditioners.

• Recycle: Focus on recycling paper

• Results:  60 lakhs units of power saved by Shoppers Stop Ltd. = to Rs 6.8 crores per annum. Equal to one store “free” given to management per annum.

• Saved 84 mio pages to date through initiatives to recycle paper.

• Carbon footprint – saved 10 metric tons of carbon footprint.

• Carbon footprint benchmarks:

• Comparable with international retailers such as M&S and Walmart.

Sudhir Soundalgekar, Projects Head, Shoppers Stop


If there is a policy – driven top down – then sustainability is easy to implement within a company

How can the entire retail supply chain be made sustainable?

“There are no government

regulations in this regard as yet.

So the industry must take the lead in educating customers to make environment-friendly choices.”

Surender Gnanaolivu, Executive Vice President and Head Marketing, Brand Experience and Store Development, Mahindra Retail Pvt Ltd

“We need to partners with vendors. The industry needs to explain the cause of sustainability to the people we source from and encourage them to observe our policies.”

Siddharth Bindra, MD, BiBa

“Firstly, consumers need to be motivated to believe in the cause of sustainability. Secondly, the retail industry needs to incentivise and evangelise intelligent methods of resource consumption.”

Sudhir Soundalgekar, CCA & Head Lifestyle & Specialty Projects,
Shoppers Stop Ltd



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Retailers Association of India (RAI) is the unified voice of Indian retailers. RAI is a not for profit organization (registered under section 25 of Companies Act, 1956), works with all the stakeholders for creating the right environment for the growth of the modern retail industry in India. RAI is the body that encourages, develops, facilitates and supports retailers to become modern and adopt best practices that will delight customers. RAI has a three charter aim of Retail Development, Facilitation and Propagation.