The CLIC™ Chronicles: Yves Rocher – a beauty brand on a sustainability mission. Discover their journey with Bris Rocher, Group CEO

rethink sustainability

The CLIC™ Chronicles: Yves Rocher – a beauty brand on a sustainability mission. Discover their journey with Bris Rocher, Group CEO

The Rocher Group has been committed to protecting the natural environment and working sustainably for over 50 years. What was the starting point?

It was 60 years ago, in 1959, when my grandfather, Yves Rocher, founded his beauty products and herbal care company and thus became the founding father of botanical cosmetics. His interest in plants stemmed from his childhood, which he spent in the town of La Gacilly in the heart of the Morbihan department of Brittany, not far from the legendary Brocéliande forest. This was passed on from generation to generation, to the extent that, when I took the reins of the Group in 2010, I decided to make it my mission for the future to "reconnect men and women with nature".

…I decided to make it my mission for the future to "reconnect men and women with nature”

2020 will be known as the year of the Covid-19 crisis. How did you adapt to this? What measures did you implement?

The Covid-19 pandemic is currently gripping the globe and it is a shock for everyone. We reacted immediately by offering our services in March 2020.

The Rocher Group’s factories in Brittany provided bottles and raw materials to university hospital centres to manufacture alcohol-based gels. At the same time, these factories diverted their production from cosmetics to making alcohol-based gels. Thus, we were able to produce nearly 45,000 190 ml bottles a week.

As for the Petit Bateau brand, some employees volunteered to make masks in their workshops for their local health authorities. Our teams’ commitment enabled us to produce up to 5,000 masks a day.

The other Group brands (Yves Rocher, Stanhome, Dr Pierre Ricaud, Sabon, etc.) also rallied together in the same spirit of solidarity by donating significant amounts of care products and disinfectants to the carers and patients of the APHP hospitals and their local regions.

Our teams’ commitment enabled us to produce up to 5,000 masks a day

Developments in sustainable beauty are well documented. Who is leading the charge?

The entire beauty and cosmetics sector is committed to this cause. To give you an example, we, along with L'Oréal, Clarins, Coty, LVMH and other players in the sector, have helped create the Responsible Beauty Initiative (RBI). This is a sector-wide initiative based on sustainable purchases. It was established in 2017 to improve the sustainability of the entire beauty supply chain, by sharing best practices and processes, encouraging a common understanding within the industry, and improving efficiency.


How do you ensure that your commitments cascade through your supply chain?

We carefully select our suppliers who, when they are contracted, agree to sign a code of ethics with very specific commitments. This "Responsible Supplier Relations" code consists of ten very specific commitments. Some of these include applying the French "Modernisation of the Economy Law", creating lasting relationships between clients and the company and fostering partnerships with strategic suppliers to improve performance. Furthermore, we chose suppliers by assessing the total cost of the purchase and not just the base price (including logistics costs, restocking risks and issues linked with quality and image). We also consider the environmental impact of the partner organisation. Finally, we regularly re-educate all our partners to make sure that their working methods are in line with the values that we hold.

We consider the environmental impact of the partner organisation [and]… regularly re-educate all our partners to make sure that their working methods are in line with the values that we hold

You have acquired the title of "purpose-driven company". What does this represent and what are the criteria and commitments of this certification?

The purpose we adopted in 2019 following the enactment of the French PACT law is to reconnect men and women with nature. We have incorporated this purpose into our company bylaws to go on the record to state that this forms a true part of our identity and guides all of our future actions.

It is certainly not an empty promise as we have established some very specific social and environmental objectives.

Our goals are to promote the link between our communities and nature, protect the biodiversity in our regions and develop frugal innovation. Furthermore, we aspire to encourage responsible consumption initiatives, make La Gacilly, a symbol of a virtuous ecosystem and offer well-being experiences thanks to the benefits of nature. All of these initiatives are also recorded in the company bylaws and the results will be will be audited by an external independent body.

Our goals are to promote the link between our communities and nature, protect the biodiversity in our regions and develop frugal innovation… All of these initiatives are also recorded in the company bylaws

It is an ambitious commitment, which will, over time, influence our acquisitions, the products that we develop, the people we recruit – in short, all levels of our company.
 

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Have you made other environmental and social commitments?

The Group has heavily supported agroforestry for many years, specifically by planting hedges and, more broadly, tree-planting. Thanks to the initiatives of our Yves Rocher Foundation, we recently celebrated the milestone of 100 million trees planted around the world. We are also deeply committed to organic farming and the protection of biodiversity. We have proof of this with our La Gacilly botanical gardens1, which have become world-famous, and our commitment to the Bird Protection League2. Another example of our commitment to these issues is the significant investment we have made in increasing the portion of electricity and heat generation from renewable sources. This now represents 80% of the Group's electricity consumption.

…we recently celebrated the milestone of 100 million trees planted around the world. We are also deeply committed to organic farming and the protection of biodiversity

In addition, since 2014, the Group has offered a new eco-tube in its product range, which uses 25% less plastic than the old tube. The Group also uses recycled carbon boxes from its factories in Brittany to create gift boxes for its Christmas range and perfume packaging. A total of 38 tons of cardboard was reused in 2018.

The Group has partnered with several non-governmental organisations to donate new, quality products for people living below the poverty line who do not have all the basic necessities essential for integration, fulfilment and self-esteem. Thus, in 2018, the Group donated more than 80,000 items of clothing and over 982,000 cosmetic products to various associations.


Are you familiar with B Corp certification? If so, is this a certification that you're interested in?

Absolutely. 25% of the Group's revenue is B Corp-certified due to the fact that Arbonne, one of our brands, has obtained this certification, and we hope that this will also pave the way for our other brands. I've set an objective for all the Group's brands to be B Corp-certified by 2030.

I've set an objective for all the Group's brands to be B Corp-certified by 2030

Could you tell us what the next five years will mean in terms of sustainability for Yves Rocher? What changes do you envisage for the company?

We have set numerous objectives for the next ten years. To name but a few:

  • We have made a commitment that by 2030 we will have reduced our plastic consumption by 30% and to only use 100% recyclable plastics.
  • We have created a Nature Academy to train all of our employees on sustainable development issues.
  • We are committed to making our region of origin, La Gacilly and its factories in Brittany, a zero-carbon zone.

We will also continue to put in place all possible initiatives to enable us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and to develop eco-sustainable products. It's a holistic and multi-faceted task (green transport, energy optimisation, etc.) and our aim in the next few years is to further develop the work that we have started.

It's a holistic and multi-faceted task and our aim in the next few years is to further develop the work that we have started

What are your ambitions for a new start after the pandemic in 2021?

Our aim for 2021 is to regain our profitability, which is an indispensable prerequisite for implementing the various projects we have mentioned. A sustainability strategy requires resources, and we hope that this period of transformation will show us how to regain our capacity to invest in future projects.

1 https://www.maisonyvesrocher.fr/en/la-gacilly-the-botanical-beauty-valley.html
2 https://www.lpo.fr/

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