Green Retail with DFS and Dunelm

In the next part of our ongoing sustainable series, we take a deeper look at upholstered furniture retailer DFS and home furnishings retailer Dunelm to see what they are doing in terms of sustainability.

The topic of sustainability continues to be of great importance. From product innovations such as bottle-filled mattresses to greener practices and initiatives, businesses are also adapting new ways of working to make their operations more sustainable. In the next instalment of our series, we explore more of DFS’ and Dunelm’s green credentials following their respective recent results updates.


At the end of September, DFS released its preliminary results for the 52 weeks ended 25 June 2023 and detailed within the report, the company outlined its progress on some sustainable initiatives. “We have a dedicated section in our annual report that covers sustainability in detail,” DFS said. “The key elements we want to highlight here are in relation to: culture and governance; where we are on our net zero journey; and employee development.”

The Group is guided by its purpose to bring great design and comfort into every home in an affordable, responsible and sustainable manner and has pledged to achieve net zero by 2040. In the previous financial year DFS completed the model to capture its full carbon footprint. “Like many other businesses, the majority of our carbon footprint sits within our scope 3 emissions (c90%),” the retailer said. “Throughout this year, a significant amount of progress has been made in developing our carbon reduction roadmap and we are on track to submit science based targets to the SBTI for approval by June 2024.

“We have developed a number of policies and targets to help reduce our impact on the environment covering key elements of the materials that make up the sofas we sell, for example leather, textiles and timber.

“A sustainability mindset is now fully embedded across the business and our sustainability and responsibility champions have proved to be a real driving force in developing ideas and initiatives, cultivating a diverse and open environment for all our colleagues from the ground up. We have a well-developed and effective governance structure. This helps ensure we have a clear strategy, act with integrity and with transparency and hear a wide range of views with committee members representing all areas of our business.”

As for colleague wellbeing and development, this falls as part of its sustainable structure and is “very important to the Group to nurture and retain talent”. One specific example is the Sofa Delivery Company Driver School. DFS explained: “This was launched late in the previous financial year and to date we have had nearly 70 colleagues graduate. The driver school provides career progression and improved pay for our colleagues, principally warehouse operatives and 3.5T drivers by funding their training to become 7.5T HGV drivers whilst addressing a business issue of recruiting this role given the competitive labour market.”


Like the aforementioned retailer, Dunelm recently posted its preliminary results for the 52 weeks ended 1 July 2023 and also shared its sustainability progress. “We build sustainability into all that we do, embedding a long-term mindset of doing the right thing through our decisions and processes, with a view to delivering for all our stakeholders,” Dunelm said. “We strive to achieve product mastery across our categories, which increasingly involves innovation to make our products more sustainable.

“A fantastic example of this is Conscious Choice, a label we introduced in 2022 to showcase own-brand products that are made from at least 50% (by weight) more sustainable materials than their comparable alternatives. Conscious Choice options now account for c.15% of own-brand products across our categories and we have plans to expand this further.

“We are also working in our stores and supply chain to reduce carbon emissions, continuing to replace gas fired heating equipment, putting in place energy management systems, and starting to use vehicles powered by more sustainable fuel, including electricity and compressed natural gas, in our distribution fleet. As a result, we have seen a further reduction in Scope 1 carbon intensity, ahead of our targets.

“As we learn more about how to reduce our impact on the planet, progress on our Pathway to Zero23 plan continues. We are making good progress on reducing our carbon emissions, with our decarbonisation programme in stores contributing to a further reduction in Scope 1 carbon intensity this year. We are also transitioning our company car fleet to hybrid or electric vehicles. During FY23 we moved our environmental accreditation to Better Cotton, who are industry leaders in this area. As a result this was a year of transition during which we did not achieve our target. We expect to see a significant improvement in FY24 as we complete our transition and remain committed to sourcing c.100% more responsible cotton by 2025. Finally, we have now reduced our use of virgin plastic packaging by 36% compared to FY20 by both reducing the amount of packaging we are using and increasing the recycled content.”

Combining sustainability with customer engagement in its communities is another positive way in which Dunelm aims to reduce its impact on the planet, as well as working towards circularity. “We now offer a textiles take-back service in the majority of our stores, with over 70 tonnes per month of materials being returned by our customers,” the retailer said. “As we move towards product circularity, we extended the impact of this scheme by working with one of our suppliers to turn these recycled textiles, along with other recycled fibres, into products for our new ‘Remade’ range. This year we have also trialled a new Home to Home initiative, which rehouses our customers’ pre-loved homewares.”

During the year, Dunelm also submitted its targets to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and received confirmation, after the year end, that its near-term and net-zero targets have been approved by the SBTi24. This will see Dunelm align to the latest climate science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) by limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

“We are still at an early stage in our sustainability journey, and recognise there is much more to do, but we are pleased with the progress being made and the commitment from colleagues across the business in this important area.”

Save this article for later

You can revisit this article if you save it as favourite news!

Leave a Comment