Client Story

The Warehouse Group

New Zealand’s largest retailer pioneers affordable sustainable living as its vision

The Warehouse Group (TWG) is New Zealand’s largest general merchandise retail group, with $3.4 billion in revenue and 12,000 team members. It sells affordable goods in apparel, grocery, homewares, electronics, stationery, and outdoors. Its purpose is to help Kiwis live better every day and being ‘here for good’ by committing to better living through sustainable retail products and practices is one of its core values. With plenty of progress made to date, TWG wanted to become the first major retailer worldwide to make affordable sustainable living its vision.

Working hand-in-hand with TWG, our sustainability experts gave the group the confidence to set bold new ambitions and targets, in line with TWG’s refreshed vision – “to make sustainable living easy and affordable for everyone”. Our team worked with a wide range of functions across the organisation to identify the gap between the group’s existing capabilities, current sustainability performance, and future ambitions. That gap analysis informed an investment strategy, which was instrumental in defining the skills TWG would require to rethink its end-to-end value chain, supplier engagement, and new untapped customer opportunities.

Our team has helped TWG on its journey to realise its vision for sustainable living by sharing best practise and insights. TWG now has the confidence, capabilities, and roadmap to deliver on its ambition. It also has the skills to map the feasibility of different routes to sustainability, as well as to access potential new business models. This new framework will be crucial in enabling TWG to be the global leader in making affordable sustainable living its core mission.

PA have unlocked a new level of thinking for us and given us confidence to realise our vision to make sustainable living easy and affordable for everyone.”
Chief Sustainability Officer, The Warehouse Group

Key successes

Seeing the prize

  • Gave The Warehouse Group innovative insights into what other global companies were doing to enable it to become the global leader in setting a vision for easy and affordable sustainable living.

Aiming higher

  • Helped The Warehouse Group map a path to realise its ambitions and help customers live affordable sustainable lives.

Getting practical

  • Made practical recommendations to give The Warehouse Group the skills, capabilities and knowledge to unlock a new level of sustainable thinking.

A sustainable platform to build from

The Warehouse Group (TWG) is New Zealand’s largest general retailer, selling everything from garden products, sporting and outdoor goods to electricals, furniture, and grocery items. TWG started as a single store in 1982 and is now a key part of New Zealand life. 98 percent of the population are less than 30 minutes’ drive from one of the group’s 249 stores.

TWG also champions sustainability, achieving carbon neutrality in 2019 across its own operations (Scope 1 and 2 emissions which covers emissions owned, controlled, or caused indirectly by TWG). It’s cut down on plastics and packaging, offers plastic recycling in store, is on the way to a completely electric vehicle fleet, as well as diverting nearly 78 percent of its operational waste from landfill.

But now the business is pushing to be the global leader in making sustainable living easy and affordable for its customers. TWG is exploring further opportunities to engage with customers on new sustainable products, and a greener supply chain, from sourcing to end of life. The sheer scale and ambition of the transformative potential meant TWG needed expert insights to shape its thinking and next moves.

Benattar said: “This is on a par with a digital or agile transformation. It’s on that scale.”

Looking for hands-on experience

TWG wanted to know what skills and knowledge were needed to become more sustainable, and so they tapped into our team’s practical technical expertise in sustainable packaging, product design and materials.

“Our first step was to share with TWG other examples of how leading brands are exploring sustainability”, said Kim McCann, PA Sustainable Business Model expert. “A lot of businesses are making strides here and the leaders all focus on key building blocks, like strategy, targets and tools. Global insights were useful as we helped map out possibilities for TWG.”

Setting out the opportunities

Early workshops showed the importance of sourcing low-cost, sustainable products as they become more available. But we also saw that TWG could lead on promoting sustainable lifestyles by engaging with customers.

Benattar said: “We want to give people tangible solutions to help them see and realise the benefits of sustainable living, whoever and wherever they are, and whatever life stage they’re at. It could include data, content, services, or education across their whole customer experience.”

McCann, added: “This engagement showed TWG what sustainable products people might want. It meant innovating and experimenting in sustainable product offerings, from marketing and customer experience to data, insights, buying and merchandising.”

With TWG on board, the outputs of the workshops pointed towards a range of sustainable opportunities. These opportunities include looking beyond the retailer’s role as simply a seller of suppliers’ products. Business models like repair, rental, reuse, and resale will mean a shift in the business’s mindset and technical expertise. And that means training, along with hiring new capabilities across sourcing, product design, business strategy, insights and data, and communications. Based on this work, among other things, the business is building sustainability into how it manages its people’s performance.

“We know that sourcing and design choices are complicated,” said Benattar, “PA clarified the expertise we’d need to understand these choices and see the size of our opportunities.”

Finding a clear way forward

Together, we were able to define how TWG could build the capability and expertise to fulfil its vision. TWG now has the knowledge of where training is needed to upskill their employees, where to hire new expertise, and where to create and utilise partner relationships. For new expertise, role profiles were created so TWG could recruit people with exactly the skills it needed.

Underpinning implementation is a roadmap and plan which includes cost implications for training, hiring and partnering. This was crucial in allowing the TWG board to prioritise decision-making effectively.

Kim McCann, PA Sustainable Business Model expert said: “It will be about helping staff see what skills and knowledge they need to bring sustainability into their day-to-day jobs, and ultimately help their customers live more sustainably.”

PA helped us understand what capabilities and capacity we will need to drive our sustainability agenda. It wasn’t airy or abstract but was practical, which was exactly what we needed. That’s helped us set a higher level of ambition and feel confident about it.”
Chief Sustainability Officer, The Warehouse Group

By engaging all stakeholders from its suppliers and customers to employees, TWG is now well positioned to be able to deliver on its sustainability goals and become the leading global retailer enabling affordable sustainable living.

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