In the store of tomorrow, we’ll only find sustainable products and circular services such as “resell, refill, rent and repair”. The international retail Group EK wishes to make an active contribution to this future scenario and has taken “environmental and social responsibility” seriously. After rolling out a sustainability strategy, EK has now invested in the “new department store of the future”, TOMO, that will open this spring.
Retail organisation EK supplies a wide variety of services to 4200 retail partners in Europe such as procurement and marketing. In the Dutch market, EK is active with the divisions EK Fashion, EK Living, EK DIY, EK Sport and EK Books.
In 2022, EK began setting up a policy for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). “In the first instance, from an intrinsic motivation, and certainly also through the demand from consumers and retailers,” says Mariska Schennink, ESG manager at EK. “In addition, we must naturally follow European law in the area of ESG.”
Making the difference
“We don’t only want to put our policy on paper, but want to set achievable goals and take concrete steps. The question is, ‘Where can EK make a difference and what is really relevant to our organisation’. In the retail sector, you find subjects such as the reduction of CO2 emissions and implementation of circular business models. What we buy and produce ourselves must be sustainable and, for example, we strive for transparent supply chains: where do products come from and are they made with respect for the ecosystem, humans and animals,” says Mariska. “One of the concrete goals of EK is a Net Zero organisation by 2050 at the latest.”
“We are convinced that it is exactly local retail business that can play a significant role to help customers to make more conscious choices”, recounts Mariska. “The local entrepreneur sells quality above quanitity, provides complete service and the right advice thanks to expert shop employees. Local retail businesses can thus be “top of mind” when consumers think of sustainable and attractive shops. EK supports businesses with a sustainable range and provision of knowledge about ESG.”
Circular retail model
“EK is active in various sectors, but primarily in fashion, the transition to a more sustainable retail business is difficult,” states Jan Bongers, director of EK Fashion. “Because the TOMO concepts practically starts from zero, it offers us the opportunity to gain experience step by step and to profit from new and creative ideas.” TOMO, an abbreviation for “tomorrow”, is an innovative department store that will be the world’s first to offer more than 80 different sustainable fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands in combination with personal service and circular services in a shop of nearly 1000 m2. Participating brands will be urged to make products out of recycled materials and to upcycle where possible. Such as sneakers made of waste, or clothing made of recycled materials. The majority of the collection is new and there is also some to rent.
“Every ESG strategy thrives on collaboration with inspiring partners. We are convinced that our commitment to TOMO will translate into practical results for our retail partners”, says Jan Bongers, looking into the future. In addition, EK remains a background investor: the operations of the company are run by founder Marjan Haselhoff and her management team. “We are extremely happy with EK Retail as our founding investor. Their knowledge and experience in retail helps us enormously to make TOMO a success”, says Marjan Haselhoff, Founder/CEO of TOMO.
Press Release | 2 March 2023