Woolworths Holdings Limited is a South Africa-based investment holding company. It operates in three divisions: Woolworths South Africa, which is located in South Africa and operates across 11 countries in sub-Saharan Africa; David Jones Limited, which is a chain of department stores located in Australia; and Country Road Group, which is an apparel retailer located in Australia that offers apparel, accessories, footwear and homeware products.
In 2007, Woolworths developed a 34-target sustainability strategy that sought to address a range of corporate social responsibility issues. As of 2015, the company met all but one of those targets. To achieve these goals, Woolworths began conducting lifecycle assessments across its product mix, upgrading its facilities with efficiency measures, and introducing water conservation measures. The company also ensured that its products have a low environmental footprint by carefully managing its sourcing practices; in particular, the company sourced from suppliers that had sustainable practices regarding seafood, palm oil, and timber (including a zero-deforestation policy). Woolworths also mitigated unethical labor practices within its supply chain by outlining its ethical sourcing policy and performing regular third-party audits. Overall, the company’s leadership in these areas as well as specific programs such as stock ownership and employee training have led to the company receiving high marks in its employee satisfaction survey. Going forward, based on a recent materiality assessment, Woolworths has outlined ten key areas of focus through 2020.
Although Woolworths has relatively strong supply chain management, the company fails to publish the results of its audits. Additionally, the company lacks robust cyber security mechanisms to protect its customers’ private information, an issue that is notably relevant given the company’s reliance on online sales.
Industry: Consumer Discretionary
Country: South Africa
To the best of our knowledge the above information is accurate and was obtained from sources we believe to be reliable. Neither the information presented above nor any opinion expressed shall be construed as an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy the security. The views expressed are those of portfolio management as of 12/31/16 and may not reflect current opinions or subsequent events.