LONDON — Richemont is going greener, with a new commitment to eliminate PVC from all products and packaging by the end of 2022, and a fresh stamp of approval from the Science Based Targets initiative for a series of climate change goals.
“If we do not want our generation to leave a dirty and hot planet to our grandchildren, we have to change our habits and show a far bigger appreciation for the ecology and for the planet — not only for human beings but for all of life on the planet, the fauna and the flora,” said Richemont’s founder and chairman Johann Rupert during the company’s annual general meeting on Wednesday.
The meeting was held in Geneva behind closed doors for the second consecutive year, in line with COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Rupert’s brief, but wide-ranging, speech to shareholders focused on Richemont’s environmental moves, noting that the company, parent of brands including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Dunhill and Yoox Net-a-porter Group, has a “long-standing commitment to doing business responsibly” and last year made “significant progress” in alignment with the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals.
During the AGM, Rupert revealed that the Science Based Targets initiative, an organization that works with private sector companies on setting emissions reduction goals, has endorsed Richemont’s plans to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 46 percent by 2030, and to source 100 percent of renewable electricity by 2025.
The organization has also given Richemont the go-ahead to reduce Scope 3 GHG emissions from purchased goods, services and business travel by 55 percent by 2030 and to ensure that 20 percent of its key suppliers have science-based targets by 2025.
Richemont is also phasing out polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, which Rupert said is “very hard to recycle, with some countries already banning it from their landfills.” Richemont will eliminate the material by December 2022.
Rupert said all of Richemont’s businesses are working to replace PVC with alternative materials and/or other solutions. “We will continue to work collaboratively with industry organizations and our business partners to promote best practices across the full supply chain,” he added.
As reported, Richemont has also named Jasmine Whitbread and Patrick Thomas to the board of directors as non-executive directors. Rupert said Whitbread’s “deep understanding of ESG issues,” and Thomas’ “unrivaled industry expertise” will further reinforce the breadth and depth the board’s skillset.
In July, Richemont issued its latest ESG report, which touts the company’s plans to pursue a “green growth” agenda that will see it increase profitability while shrinking its carbon footprint, and work toward circularity in sourcing and sales.
Called “Movement for Better Luxury,” it’s a window on the grueling mechanics, costs and time it takes for a company of Richemont’s size and scale to go green.
During the AGM, Rupert also addressed the company’s new warrants, whose current value “has more than compensated for the cut” in the group’s dividend last year; the company beefed-up investment in online retail channels during the pandemic, and the acquisition earlier this year of the luxury leather goods company Delvaux.
Rupert also paid tribute to Alber Elbaz, who died from COVID-19-related complications earlier this year. He described him as a “dear friend and colleague,” and referred to the late designer’s “inclusive dream of ‘smart fashion that cares.’”
Richemont shares closed down 0.7 percent at 104.80 Swiss francs at the close of trading on Wednesday.