In 2021, Pets at Home launched a refreshed supply chain sustainability strategy, and set a Science Based Target initiative (SBTi) approved long-term goal to reach net zero carbon by 2040.

Our business had been committed to reducing its environmental impact for years, such as through the rollout of LED lighting estate-wide, and signing renewable electricity contracts from 2017. However, more progress must be made.

The primary challenge was to create a sustainability strategy that extended beyond internal operations and focused on the full value chain of our products and services. This was a significant shift, as sustainability suddenly became part of everyone’s job within the organisation, and required closer than before stakeholder engagement.

Including sustainability at every level

In response, three key changes now place the business in the best position to deliver on an ambitious plan.

The first is about embedding sustainability as a key component within the business strategy, with its own independent strategic objectives, while also integrating it across other initiatives. This started with creating a singular purpose for Pets at Home: “To create a better world for pets and the people who love them,” which speaks to both our business objectives and our sustainability ambitions.

Second is the inclusion of sustainability at every level of the organisation. It should not be confined to a select group of experts within a company.

Colleagues are encouraged to take part in our volunteering programme called our ‘Better World Pledge’ community days. This underpinned the annual bonus for salaried staff and helped to bring the strategy to life at a local level.

Recognised green challenges across supply chains

The third change introduced was to be more externally focused, recognising the challenges we face require a collective effort across our supply chains and industry. For instance, as members of the British Retail Consortium, we are active signatories to its climate roadmap and encourage others to join. There is an imperative that all industries, businesses and countries need to act now.

Each business has unique characteristics, and there are differences between retailers. But our advice for approaching sustainability is to ensure every organisation’s sustainability strategy is integrated as part of the business strategy, embedded into colleagues’ roles and outwardly focused, and also bears in mind that collaboration with stakeholders and the industry as a whole is key for long-term success.