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Our responsibility and values

As a family-owned company, human values and respect for both people and environment have always been deeply rooted in Søstrene Grene.
Taking responsibility within these areas has always been a natural part of running our business – and it will continue to be so in the future.
Our ambition is to keep improving in all areas, and here, you can read about our CSR efforts and the actions we take to avoid negative impact on both people and planet.

Our priorities

We base our priorities on two fundamental principles:

1) to minimise negative impact on people and planet and

2) to create positive impact when we can. Our four priority areas are defined by what is material to the relation between our company and the society and environment we interact with.

Below you can learn more about our commitments and actions:

  1. Ethics & Governance: Responsibility and ethics are fundamental in our corporate governance, management decisions and interaction with stakeholders. Read more
  2. Responsible Supply Chain: We collaborate with our suppliers to ensure that our products are produced with respect for working conditions and the environment. Read more
  3. Safe products: We make sure that our products are safe for our customers and that they meet all applicable national and international legislation on safety and chemical contents. Read more
  4. Protection of the environment: We strive to minimise our environmental footprint by reducing our energy consumption and by promoting environmentally friendly products such as organic foodstuff and eco-labelled items. Read more

Ethics & Governance

One of Søstrene Grene’s core values is joy. We strive to create slight bright differences to everyday life. This value begins with ourselves – with our commitment to running our company with responsibility and respect for the world we are part of. Our key priorities within Ethics and Governance are:

  • Management: We incorporate the respect for international human rights, labour rights, environment, climate and anti-corruption in our policies, management structure and business practices, from top management to the store staff.
  • Employee welfare: We continuously strive to be a company centred around human values, with great care for the needs of our individual employees. We seek to create an inspiring and joyful working environment for our employees.
  • Customer engagement: We seek an open and trustful relation with our customers. We integrate our customers’ wishes and needs in product improvements and our assortment. Any complaint will always be taken seriously, and we do what we can to ensure that our customers have a joyful experience when interacting with Søstrene Grene.
  • Community engagement: We collaborate with humanitarian organisations to support charitable causes.

Our actions, 2016/2017
In the fiscal year 2016/2017, we have significantly scaled our management practices within CSR. Focus has been on establishing an efficient CSR governance structure. Actions include:

  • We have increased the allocation of resources to CSR management compared to the previous fiscal year.
  • Responsibility policies covering our four priority areas have been defined and implementation has been initiated. The four priority areas are: Ethics & Governance, Responsible Supply Chain, Safe Products and Protection of the Environment.
  • A CSR Board with representatives from CSR management, top management and the board of Søstrene Grene has been established. The CSR board decides the overall CSR strategy of the company and works closely together with the CSR Managing Committee.
  • A CSR Managing Committee has been established. The CSR Managing Committee consists of managers from CSR, Supply chain, Retail, Marketing, HR, Product Quality and Compliance. The CSR Managing Committee ensures efficient vertical and horizontal coordination between all CSR related functions in Søstrene Grene.
  • A formal HR department has been established, catering to the well-being of our employees.
  • In 2016/2017, our donations to the Danish Red Cross reached a total of DKK 521.758. Every time we sell a Red Cross water bottle, we donate 1 DKK to the Danish Red Cross

Responsible supply chain

Our supply chain is the backbone of our business, and it adds complexity to the practical task of managing our responsibility ambitions. Therefore, our supply chain is the priority of our responsibility efforts. Through our Responsible Supply Chain Programme, we continuously work to ensure that our products are produced with great care and respect for workers and environment.

Our supply chain
We source our products directly from independent factories as well as from trading companies, who again source their products from other factories. Søstrene Grene does not own any factories. European suppliers provide 30-40% of our products, the rest is sourced from suppliers in Asia - mainly China, India and Vietnam. Some suppliers we use only once, e.g. campaign-related products. Other suppliers have been with us for many years. In total, we use around 500 different suppliers each year. Approximately 100 of these suppliers are categorised as CSR Focus Suppliers and are selected for CSR audits and training. The selection is based on relevance and risk parameters such as location, product, production process, raw material and how much we purchase from the given supplier. Most of our Asian suppliers are categorised as CSR Focus Suppliers, most of our Northern European suppliers are not.

Responsible Supply Chain Programme
Our Responsible Supply Chain Programme consists of several parts.

  • First of all, all our suppliers must commit to the ethical requirements as described in Søstrene Grene’s Supplier Code of Conduct. These requirements include issues such as health and safety, child labour, forced labour, protection of young workers, freedom of association and collective bargaining, wages, working hours and protection of the environment.
  • Secondly, our CSR audit team audits our suppliers on their ethical performance against our Supplier Code of Conduct. Currently, we have our own auditors in China, India and Vietnam.

In the very rare case that severe concerns are identified, we will cease all business with the supplier until the concern has been corrected. Sufficient corrections and true commitment must be documented at a re-audit by our audit team before we can take up business with the supplier again. If the supplier does not reach a satisfactory level, we do not take up business with the supplier again. In case of less severe concerns, we agree on a deadline for correction with the supplier, and we follow up on implementation, either by conducting a re-audit or by exchange of documentation, depending on the character of the concern.

  • Finally, our auditors are not only trained in conducting CSR audits, they are also trained in assisting suppliers that strive to improve. Assisting our suppliers’ improvement is continuously supported through dialogue and collaboration between our CSR department, our auditors and our suppliers. This approach means we do not only audit our suppliers, we also play an important role in helping them improve in situations when this is needed.

Our actions 2016/2017
In the fiscal year 2016/2017, we have increased our responsible supply chain efforts. Actions include:

  • In 2017, Søstrene Grene became a member of the Danish Ethical Trading Initiative, which promotes fair working conditions in global supply chains.
  • Our audit team has been scaled up with recruitment of new auditors in India, Vietnam and China.
  • Our Supplier Code of Conduct and Responsible Supply Chain Management System has been revised, increasing the focus on assisting our suppliers’ improvement.
  • Twenty audits have been conducted, which means that 66% of the purchases sourced from our CSR Focus Suppliers come from suppliers that have been audited and approved within the last three years.
  • Two suppliers have been put on stand-by due to unacceptable health and safety conditions. One of them has later implemented the required improvements and has therefore been included in our supplier portfolio again.
  • A need analysis for CSR training of the trading companies we source from has been conducted. Next year, the training programme will be initiated.

Read more: Søstrene Grene’s Supplier Code of Conduct

Safe products

It is crucial to Søstrene Grene that our customers can trust the quality and safety of the products they buy at our stores. Therefore, we allocate a significant amount of resources to product testings and screenings, ensuring that our products live up to all applicable national and EU legislations.

Our Product Compliance team performs a Risk Analysis of each and every product we sell in our stores. They are highly qualified professionals with specialised knowledge about chemical substances, materials and the relevant legislation. We request comprehensive documentation from the suppliers, including Bill of Material, chemical composition etc. This approach means we only perform the tests which are relevant for each specific product.

The Product Compliance team monitors new developments in the relevant legislations. We follow new developments in the health and safety field in close cooperation with the relevant authorities and Trade and Consumer Organisations. In many cases, we must take action before a specific law is passed in the product safety field. We have to stay ahead of the legislation, so we can keep developing and improving our products. Søstrene Grene has chosen to ban all Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) from EU’s candidate list and fluorine substances in food contact materials/packaging. We have also chosen to reduce the use of PVC in product packaging and other product groups.

Our actions 2016/2017
In the fiscal year 2016/2017, our focus has been on continuing the strict testing and screening process of our products. Actions include:

  • We have had four product recalls: Three were due to quality issues; zero were due to chemical contents; one was due to an error in the printed ingredients list on a food item.
  • In 2017, we have received and processed more than 4000 Bills of Material – one for each new or modified product introduced into our range.
  • One new Product Compliance specialist has been hired, resulting in a capacity increase of approximately 30% in the team.

Protection of the environment

Taking care of our climate and environment is a great priority to Søstrene Grene. Our key focus is to reduce waste, reuse and recycle.

Within some areas there is a lot we can do ourselves, e.g. how we deal with recycling, use of packing materials and energy optimisation of our stores and warehouses. Within these areas, we monitor our performance, analyse where we can improve and set in with relevant actions.

Within other areas, we are reliant on the efforts of our collaborators, e.g. the efforts of our suppliers and the transportation companies we use. When it comes to transportation of our goods, we choose companies that work effectively towards reducing their CO2 emissions, and we try to avoid air freight. When it comes to suppliers, we have clear environmental requirements in Søstrene Grene’s Supplier Code of Conduct, and environment is an important part of the CSR audits we conduct at our suppliers’ factories. Read more

Our actions 2016/2017
In 2016/2017, we have implemented a more efficient management structure regarding climate change and environment. Actions include:

  • Responsibility for environmental management has been gathered under our CSR department. New routines for collection of data and measuring our impact have been implemented.
  • Solid waste from our warehouses is recycled whenever possible – at the moment, we recycle all cardboard and plastic.
  • More than 90% of our stores are now using low-energy LED – we expect that all stores will only be using LED before the end of 2018.
  • Søstrene Grene is a member of the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®-C133860). In 2016/2017, the share of FSC® certified wood-based products grew to 95% percent from 17% percent the previous year.

Read more: Søstrene Grene’s environmental policy