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Douglas Commits to Creating a Sustainable Beauty Industry

June 19, 2022
June 19, 2022
Douglas Group

Douglas is committed to becoming a driving force for greater sustainability in the beauty industry. The European retailer will focus on increasing the number of clean, natural, and sustainable beauty brands in its merchandise assortment, working closely with manufacturers and suppliers. Douglas is also striving to make its business operations climate neutral by the end of 2025.

"As Europe's leading provider of premium beauty, we are aware of our great ecological and social responsibility," said Tina Müller, Douglas Group CEO. "At the same time, the expectations of our customers have grown significantly: Sustainability considerations are among the key purchasing criteria, alongside quality and price. Therefore, our ambition is to be a leading player in the beauty industry in terms of sustainability. Sustainable thinking and action must be among the top priorities, both in our own activities and in our cooperation with suppliers and business partners."

For the first time, their 2020/21 ESG report presents Douglas' formal sustainability strategy and outlined focus areas of People, Products, Planet, and Governance. The Düsseldorf-based retailer also identified key topics for which they have set ambitious goals:

  • Customer satisfaction and shopping experience
  • Diversity, equality, and inclusion
  • Employee engagement
  • Sustainable assortment, especially for own brands
  • Reduction of CO2 emissions
  • Resource efficiency
  • ESG commitment of the management

In line with these topics, Douglas has formulated mandatory, qualitative, and quantitative goals as well as intentions for the coming years. "We will measure ourselves against our plans and promises and communicate progress continuously and transparently," said Tina Müller. "Together with our employees, customers and business partners, we want to anchor sustainability as an integral element in every area of our business. This starts with raising awareness, continues through changes in attitude and behavior, and evolves into specific measures and projects, ultimately resulting in tangible and powerful results."

Among other things, Douglas has set the goal of reducing CO2e emissions in its own business operations by at least half by the end of 2025 compared to the base year of 2019. In order to become climate neutral, Douglas will close the gap in 2025 and compensate for unavoidable emissions using certified standards. In addition, Europe's market leader in the beauty sector intends to boost its efficient use of materials by looking at various ways to increase the share of recycled materials while reducing the amount of waste generated within the company. Simultaneously, the company intends to establish a waste system that is broken down by material and type of disposal, thus allowing consumers to see where glass, paper and other recyclable materials end up.

"Together with our employees, customers and business partners, we want to anchor sustainability as an integral element in every area of our business."
By Tina Müller, CEO, Douglas Group

A comparatively positive development can already be observed in the e-commerce return rates: the volume of returns has already fallen by around a third between 2019 and 2021 to 4.4% of the shipments delivered. All returns in Germany that cannot be resold but are suitable for donation are given to charitable organizations.

In the area of Products, Douglas already identifies clean beauty products throughout its assortment with a dedicated label. In the case of its own brands, they have set a clear goal of becoming a pioneer in sustainability, as the company has a direct influence on the development and manufacturing of the products in this area. Numerous advances have already been made:

  • Almost 100% of the new Douglas Brands products launched since 2020 are free of microplastics.
  • More than 40% of the products launched in the 2021/22 fiscal year fall into the clean beauty category.
  • 93% of the products launched since the 2020/21 fiscal year are vegan.
  • 63% of the new Douglas Brands products launched in the 2021/22 fiscal year will be FSC-compliant.
  • More than 50% of all new Douglas Brands products will be using recycled material by 2030.
  • 85% of Douglas Brands are already produced in the EU.

"We are proud of these key figures. At the same time, we are determined to keep up the fast pace when it comes to improving the environmental performance of our own brands," said Susanne Cornelius, Douglas Brands CEO. "This applies to every aspect of the product: manufacturing, ingredients, packaging materials, disposal. We can only truly speak of sustainability if we take a holistic view and approach. This includes Douglas Brands partnering with Plastic Bank."

The organization builds ethical recycling ecosystems in vulnerable coastal communities. The collectors receive bonuses for the plastic they collect, which help them meet their families' basic needs, such as food or school fees. As part of the cooperation, a contribution will be made to Plastic Bank for each item sold from the Douglas "Home Spa" and "Essential" private labels.

Douglas is not only focusing on greater sustainability of its own brands but also on its cooperation with business partners. "We already expect and demand a corresponding attitude from our suppliers and we incorporate this into all discussions," explained Tina Müller. "In addition, we expressly welcome the recent efforts of various manufacturers to determine the ecological footprint at the product level and to make it transparent for customers. This will be a giant step forward in the beauty industry's efforts to promote sustainable consumption more effectively."

In the People sector, Douglas is already a leader on several parameters. Diversity, tolerance, and mutual respect are practiced core values of the Group's corporate culture; its purpose is based on a togetherness in which all people "feel seen, heard, and valued." The internal motto is: "We open all eyes to the beauty of uniqueness, bring it to life and make life itself more beautiful." Tina Müller adds: "We do not discriminate between skin color, origin, sexual orientation or personal pronouns. Douglas sees itself as a democratic and inclusive brand that stands for an open and diverse society. As an employer, Douglas practices equal treatment, tolerance and equal opportunities at all levels of the workforce."

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