On Wednesday, Kering released its second Sustainability Progress Report, for 2020-2023. Five days prior, during an NYC press event, the company announced a new commitment to reduce its absolute gas emissions by 40% by 2035, compared to 2021. In 2017, Kering defined a long-term sustainability strategy, paired with a promise to provide updates on its goals every three years. In 2020, progress was shared at an event in Paris.
“Transparency is key when talking about sustainability,” Marie-Claire Daveu, chief sustainability and institutional affairs officer at Kering, told Glossy before the event.
Among Kering’s sustainability targets for 2025 was a 40% intensity reduction in the group’s Scope 3 emissions. The company exceeded that goal in 2021, reaching a 41% reduction.
Also noted in the Report are Kering’s plans to reduce supply chain emissions according to the Science Based Targets initiative’s 1.5-degree Celcius reduction pathway. In addition, it lists that, since 2021, the company has banned fur, created a sustainable finance department and achieved 100% renewable electricity. Plus, it’s co-created two funds centered on transforming conventional agriculture into regenerative agriculture.
“If we want to change the [industry] paradigm, we need to do it more broadly and not say, ‘I will do it all by myself,’” Daveu said. “Because that’s great for you, but for the planet and the people, it doesn’t change enough. And innovation is also coming from peers in our sectors.”
Today, Kering works with nearly 250 startups to achieve a more sustainable supply chain. It’s also teamed with major universities in fashion capitals to create sustainability-focused programs, and co-created with Richemont-owned Cartier the Watch & Jewelry Initiative based on forwarding sustainability in the sector. It announced the Fashion Pact in 2019, which it built upon with the introduction of the Collective Virtual Power Purchase Agreement late last year.
Commitment to sustainability by top management is also crucial to a company’s ability to achieve progress, Daveu said. She credited Kering CEO and chairman François-Henri Pinault’s leadership in both ensuring ongoing change internally and driving transformative initiatives industry-wide.
Daveu also discussed with Glossy the current challenges, consumer sentiment and “duty” of luxury brands, when it comes to sustainability.
To what extent would you say Kering’s progress around sustainability currently matters to the group’s luxury shoppers?
“For consumers, the [importance] of sustainability is complex; it’s different for the youngest customer than for the classic or conventional customer. The classic or conventional customer just wants to be sure their product is perfect. And “perfect” includes [beautiful] design and quality, but also that [the brand] pays attention to people and to the planet. Unlike a few years ago, climate change is now a reality in Western countries, and people can see that. So the conventional client does not ask you questions. When you are a luxury brand, they trust you and your quality. But Gen Z wants some evidence, so they ask you questions. And they’re really interested in learning details. They won’t ask [for example], ‘What is your absolute intensity target for climate change?’ But they would like to know where your raw materials are coming from, and they’ll look at your website. That’s why Kering brands are sharing more corporate-level information. For younger people, a big difference is coming from social media. They are ready to buy luxury; they love luxury, But they want to know that we pay attention to this topic. The same is true all over the world, and that will only continue to increase.
You also have to take into account that we are a [public] company. We take into account many stakeholders, both from a financial perspective and an employee perspective. For employees today, especially in the young generations, sustainability is a key topic. Human resources people will tell you that, during interviews, many people ask what you are doing [in terms of sustainability]. And they want to know how quickly you’re doing it. At Kering, we put much information on our website. But they want to know more. So we’ve started with my colleague, our chief financial officer, what we call the ESG Roadshow. ESG brings up many questions. And investors and analysts look at it, in terms of risk. They want to be sure everything is well-controlled, including animal welfare and what is happening on the social [responsibility] side. … This, in part, is also linked with [sustainability] regulations in Europe, which have become more strict — not only for corporate companies, but also for banks and investors.”
In achieving the 2025 emissions goal, did Kering houses better known for innovation make up for others less advanced?
“It was quite balanced. The challenge is not by brand or by sector, but it’s really by raw material. For example, there’s a challenge around precious stones, so that’s why we decided to create the Watch & Jewelry Initiative. We have beautiful [jewelry] brands, but when we think about volume, we are not big enough to change the supply chain. Achieving full traceability for precious stones and semi-precious stones is quite complex. It will take time. For red or blue or green stones, for example, the market is quite small. And so, the stones are coming from everywhere. However, 100% of our gold purchase is now ethical.”
What would you say to luxury brands that limit their approach to sustainability to making products that last?
“Luxury brands are more sustainable [than other brands] because you order quality, beautiful raw materials. Sustainability is in your DNA. But even luxury brands can continue to become better. It’s like you’re a child, but you’re 15 [years old]; you should continue to progress. And because you are in luxury, you have a responsibility that others don’t have. … I always say that sustainability is not an option; it’s a necessity. But when you’re in luxury, it’s a duty.”