In our ongoing sustainable series, we take a deeper look at family-owned retailer Leekes and what they are doing in terms of sustainability.
Family-owned retailer Leekes is consistently working with sustainability in mind as part of their commitment for a greener future. In fact, they proudly state that green is their favourite colour, in more ways than just its branding, after launching its ‘Green is our favourite colour’ campaign, which promotes a wide range of eco-friendly and sustainably sourced product ranges that help to encourage lifestyle changes, supported by informative product labels and point of sale made from recycled paper.
Emma Leeke, Managing Director – Leekes Retail, echoed the company ethos and its mission when it comes to sustainability. “At Leekes, we are passionate about working to make a positive, sustainable impact on the planet. Our commitment to sustainability is now more important than ever, and we have pursued initiatives that are smart for our business and good for the environment. It is important for us as a brand to continuously look for ways to minimise our impact on the planet and to develop our green strategies.”
One of these initiatives includes the recent implementation of a new £1.4m solar panel investment across all its department store sites, head office, and 4-star hotel, the Vale Resort. The two-year programme of solar investment will be completed by spring 2023 and will see over 1.9 million kWh per year of energy generated allowing sites to be up to 45% self-sufficient, with over 900,000kg of CO2 emissions avoided each year.
The retail business has been formally classified as “zero to landfill” for a number of years but the effort doesn’t stop there and the group is committed to further changes to reduce its impact on the planet. Since 2020, Leekes has replaced up to 80% of its lighting with LED alternatives, introduced enhanced recycling schemes and waste segregation, and removed single-use carrier bags from its operation where “bags for life” – hessian bags – can be purchased in stores as an alternative.
Leekes has also formed a partnership with the British Heart Foundation, offering free furniture disposal as well as a charitable donation, while a conscious effort has been made to reduce the amount of print advertising they run in their marketing campaigns, which helps to reduce paper waste and delivery vehicle emissions. “We have also improved our product packaging to remove the use of bubble wrap and plastic sub straights from online deliveries and click & collect packaging, replacing plastics with eco-wrap and mono-material packaging options, meaning that all waste can be recycled in the same channel,” Emma said.
“Waste reduction across all Leekes stores and offices is of huge importance to us as well as us thinking about the impact our waste has on a wider scale. To help with this we have introduced a number of schemes to support this initiative and are consistently looking at more ways we can reduce the environmental impact we are having as a business.”
These changes are combined with considerable efforts to further reduce CO2 emissions and the overall carbon footprint of the business. With its company car fleet now 25% electric, older vehicles updated, and journeys planned with the most efficient route in mind, it ensures that deliveries are as environmentally friendly as possible. Emma said: “This includes consideration of how we plan our delivery routes, ensuring that they are as efficient as possible as well as the introduction of new HGV vehicles to help meet emissions standards throughout the country.
“So far, we have reduced our footprint and co2 emissions by converting 25% of our car fleet to electric vehicles. This initiative is part of an ongoing strategy to convert all company cars to electric as well as updating other fleet vehicles and opting for greener, more efficient models.
“With our marketing changing to more digital forms, it means we can reduce our carbon footprint. On average, we would produce and distribute over 500,000 leaflets and brochures, all of which would be delivered to various distribution centres before being delivered out to customers. Our new digital strategy means this is vastly reduced to less than 5% of the previous distribution and we can still keep our customers informed about our great offers and events in store without impacting on the environment.”
As the business continues on a greener path, this also includes more economical and sustainably sourced product lines within their stores. “Our buyers are working with our suppliers to reduce plastic packaging and it’s important to note that we only work with suppliers that offer FSC wood ensuring that all wood used within the manufacture of our sofas and other furniture products is FSC certified as well as the timber we sell in our builders’ merchants locations. Other changes will include dedicated areas in store at various periods promoting eco-friendly products to encourage our customers to make a switch,” Emma said.