Corporate Social Responsibility
Debenhams Sustainability Report

The sustainability committee

The board of Debenhams created a sustainability committee in 2010 to ensure that the business promotes the interests of all its stakeholders.

Our Sustainability Committee is chaired by Martina King, a non-executive director. The committee is made up of senior executives from key functions across the business; operations, systems, corporate responsibility, HR, sourcing and ethical trade. The committee’s primary goal is to take a medium to long-term view of the world in which we trade, ensuring all aspects of our business remain sustainable, enabling us to continue as a successful international retailer and to achieve our strategic targets. Debenhams has been serving our customers for over 200 years and as the world in which we operates continues to change and global trends impact on our business, we aim to ensure we will continue to serve our customers for another 200 years.

The committee considers key global trends, the environment and new technologies in order to identify business risks, incorporated into our risk register, and opportunities to support our continual development and growth. Taking a long term and broad view of our company and its prospects enables the committee to advise the organisation on emerging trends, from technological advancements, changing consumer behaviour, resource utilisation to manufacturing and the employment and support of our work force in both our own company and those of our manufacturers and suppliers. Our leadership team prioritises the resources required to deliver sustainable growth and returns on investment to the benefit of all of our stakeholders, including customers’, colleagues’, suppliers’, partners’ and investors’

Sustainable sourcing:

Product must be the lifeblood of any retailer. A key pillar of our strategy is “delivering a compelling customer proposition” which is based on our unique, differentiated and exclusive collection of categories, brands and product lines. In order to achieve this goal we need a robust sustainable supply chain strategy that ensures our products are on the shelf in a timely manner and at competitive prices as well as meeting the highest ethical and quality standards.
This is the focus of the sustainable sourcing work group.


The remit of this group is to minimise the risks to Debenhams of non-compliance with current and future environmental legislation and to seek ways to reduce the impact we have on the environment in a cost-effective way. The key areas of focus are energy, including climate change, and waste.

Logistics and distribution:

Ensuring that goods always flow is the priority for this work group. Working with our logistics partner DHL, we are seeking to achieve this whilst at the same time minimising fuel and freight cost increases and managing carbon emissions and waste. “Increasing choice and availability through multi-channel” and “expanding the brand internationally” are two of the four pillars of our business strategy. They present new challenges for logistics and distribution which the group is also focusing on.


This work group’s priorities are employees, customers and communities. If we are to succeed as a business we need to attract, retain and develop the best talent in the retail industry. As a business that puts its customers at the heart of everything we do we must find ways to engage with them and take account of their views. We are at the heart of the communities we operate in and must play a full part in charity and community activities on a national and local level. The People work group takes a lead on all of these issues.