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Carrefour gives boost to reporting in France

October 2002

Carrefour, Europe’s largest retailer, has entered the social and environmental reporting field.

The supermarket chain’s first sustainable development report contains, by the company’s own admission, ‘very little quantitative or consolidated data’ and is unverified. But Carrefour said it had produced the document to show its future intentions.

French companies have been slow to report on their social and environmental impact, but two recent government measures – the New Economic Regulations Act (EP3, issue 11), which requires companies to include social and environmental information in annual reports, and a regulation that obliges fund managers of employee savings plans to state their policy on socially responsible investment – have prompted them to begin reporting in more detail on these issues.

Last month, Carrefour was one of six French firms to enter the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for the first time. Each of the six was judged by the index compilers to be in the top ten per cent of their respective global industry sectors in terms of their social and environmental performance.

The other new entrants were Accor, BNP Paribas, Credit Lyonnais, Schneider Electric and utility company Suez.

Although two French companies – Compagnie Generale des Etablissements Michelin and L’Oreal – were dropped from the index, Alexander Barkawi, managing director of the compilers, SAM Indexes, said French companies had made the most noticeable progress over the past year.

‘France has significantly reduced its underweight position in the index,’ he said. ‘One reason may be the impact there of recent legislation.’

The second-largest retailer in the world, Carrefour has 9200 stores in 30 countries with 383,000 employees and operates in Asia, Europe and the Americas.

Its stand-alone web report mainly contains general statements of the group’s potential social and environmental impacts. However, it has some specific information on environmental matters and outlines work on a ‘preliminary environmental diagnostic questionnaire’ for all Carrefour’s suppliers which has already been tested by 90 of them in France.

Carrefour says collecting detailed information on its impacts will take time because it has a decentralized structure.

The report was produced with consulting firm Utopies.




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