Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Home Retail decides to talk CSR to employees

May 2010

Home Retail Group is to ‘refocus’ its corporate responsibility strategy on employees, and put more effort into communicating what it is doing.

The UK-based corporation, which owns the do-it-yourself chain Homebase and the catalogue retailer Argos, has produced a three-year strategy placing more emphasis on talking to its 53,000 staff about its CSR programmes and policies.

The strategy commits the group to articulating its efforts to improve social and environmental impacts ‘in a clear and engaging way’ and to putting more resources into communicating them both internally and externally.

Work on the strategy has already begun. Argos and Homebase employees have received a 16-page booklet, The Basis of Good Business, highlighting recent improvements made by each company.

The booklet carries a message from group chief executive Terry Duddy urging staff to ‘make a difference’, and includes examples of how individual stores have met new corporate responsibility goals.

Employees will be engaged on corporate responsibility topics at key internal conferences, where in future there will always be a CSR stand. An annual group-wide awards event has been inaugurated to reward staff for their efforts, and environment prizes will be given to stores and distribution centres that perform especially well.

There will be regular CSR-related features in employee magazines and a quarterly newsletter on the group’s charity partnerships, and some store staff will be seconded to Home Retail’s central CSR team on a rolling six-month basis, helping to shape communications plans and returning to their units as ‘champions’.

The group has also begun to seek more external recognition and has recently held media briefings outlining progress. It wants to get its CSR message to customers as well as employees – and is considering how to make its annual corporate responsibility report more accessible to that audience.

Rosi Watson, head of corporate responsibility, said Home Retail had purposely adopted a low-key approach to communicating its progress while deciding how best to proceed –  but it would now be more proactive in telling its key stakeholders what it is doing.

Watson said significant progress had been made since Home Retail Group was floated away from its original parent company, GUS, in 2006. ‘Since we demerged we’ve been upping the stakes on CSR, and we now believe we have a good story to tell,’ she said.

Argos sells more than 19,000 items through its catalogues and a network of more than 700 stores. Homebase has more than 300 large out-of-town stores, selling more than 30,000 products and serving about 60 million customers a year. The group’s turnover was £5.9billion ($9bn, €6.8bn) in the last financial year.

Home Retail Group | UK & NI Ireland | Communication

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