Sustainability is now acknowledged as the third revolution of modern times after industrial in the 19th century and IT in the 20th. As we face a double-dip recession and much of Europe is in financial crisis, we know our economic overdraft has long been built on a precarious house of cards. Social inequality is causing greater gaps between the richest and poorest in society; which means we face spiralling and unsustainable demands on our social infrastructure. The environment is cracking under the pressure as we plunder three times our share of natural resources whilst replacing only a fraction. Quite simply, economic, social and environmental stability combines to create sustainability.
Sustainability in business is about understanding these issues and making changes to redress the balance. These changes will make companies more resilient, competitive and profitable. They focus on adaptation strategies to create leaner, cleaner and greener entities which are responsive to the changing world; creating more value for them, their communities and the environment.
According to recent research from Harvard/London Business School, based on more than 20 years of evidence, organisations that have sustainable principles at their core have on average, yielded double the profits of those going for short-term growth. Contrary to popular opinion responsible businesses are actually more successful in every metric with a better bottom line brought about by happier, healthier and more fulfilled employees and more satisfied customers.
Sustainability is not just about ‘doing your bit’ with energy reduction, recycling and some charity work. It requires a major step-change in every way we go about our business. It’s about ‘creating value’ with profit that is measured in more ways than one. Sustainable businesses don’t wait for legislation – they anticipate changing markets, learn from though leaders or become innovators and respond to issues with profitable solutions. Two such organisations in Gloucestershire, who are reaping the rewards of adapting their business strategies to sustainable drivers, are Howard Tenens and Space Catering Equipment.
Howard Tenens, one of the largest family-owned logistics companies in the UK, leads its industry in environmental innovation. The award-winning company owns three million square feet of warehousing space in the UK operating from 16 locations, employing 500 staff.
The logistics sector has an important role to play if the UK is to meet its European carbon reduction targets. Embarking on a sustainable course since 2003, a separate company Tenens Environmental was set up in 2008 to reduce the carbon footprint of storing and distributing customers’ products.
“Within a relatively short time we have introduced a number of leading edge initiatives from alternative vehicles and fuels to sustainable warehousing,” said Eilis Cope, the group’s marketing and PR director.
“Our professionalism, our passion for excellence and an uncompromising commitment to delivering both outstanding customer service and sustainable environmental performance, are the qualities that are the driving force behind everything we do.”
There is no doubt of the value innovation has brought to Howard Tenens’ blue-chip client base. At a time where every major organisation is reviewing its supply-chain, all businesses need to be ship-shape to retain existing business and win new clients. This should be the primary focus of every single organisation, however small.
Mike Mellor is Managing Director of Space Catering Equipment, an ambitious company of just 24 people creating a similar impact in their sector since they started their ‘Green Footprinting’ initiative in 2008.
“The motivation for us to start selling ‘greener solutions’ came through the frustration of receiving the stock answer that energy-saving equipment was ‘too expensive’. We could see clients defaulting to cheaper equipment that is much more expensive to run so we wanted to present the case by looking equally at upfront and operating costs.”
Space’s pioneering approach has generated more than 20 national press articles and awards including the ‘Foodservice Footprint Award’ and ‘Best Installation’. Space kitchens can be found in places as diverse as 10 Downing Street, Mars and Paramount Pictures.
“Taking a very clear eco stance has definitely increased our opportunities and our business has grown substantially in an otherwise declining market, explained Mike.
PUBLICATION: Cotswold Style Magazine – March 2012