CSR visit at LIDL Belgium

Wednesday, 4 January 2017, 22:53 | Category : Masters
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Hi there,

My peers in the MGM/MIE Leuven group and I recently visited LIDL’s distribution centre in Sint-Niklaas. With this visit, we had the opportunity to discuss some corporate sustainability and responsibility (CSR) issues that LIDL Belgium faces. In our lectures, the charismatic Prof Xavier conveyed to us that CSR is not about philanthropy, but rather policies that are embedded in day-to-day decisions and operations of a business. As such, this company visit afforded us a chance to assess the real life implications of strategic corporate sustainability initiatives.

For the non-European readers, LIDL is a German discounter supermarket chain with over 10 000 stores in 28 countries. The company is the second biggest retailer in the world and has revenues over €64.4 bn. On the day of our visit, we had a presentation from the head of sustainability in Belgium and Luxembourg, Phillippe Weiler, who enthusiastically chatted to us about the benefits of good CSR consciousness in a big multi-national whilst we were nibbling on some tasty snacks. What I gathered from the presentation is that CSR initiatives result in cost reduction, brand enhancement, customer satisfaction and ultimately create value for shareholders. Philippe was also proud to point out that LIDL’s seafood offering is the most sustainable among the Belgian retailers, a fact that my fellow MIE blogger Cassandra did not believe. After some googling of her own, she is now convinced – I hope so at least.

At the end of the presentation, we were tasked to tackle two real life CSR challenges: 1) How can LIDL be a better neighbour to the community and 2) How can Lidl better integrate its sustainability actions at the store level.

We were divided in competing mini-groups of 6 to 8 students and, in true Vlerick fashion, were given only 30 lidl1minutes to present our out-of-the box ideas. The jury was composed of LIDL management panel and also some of the students – they were clearly happier as theirs was an easier job. The winning groups were elected based on the feasibility and presentation of the recommendations. A tough job for the jury as Philippe and the rest of LIDL management were really impressed and noted down most of our suggestions. Some of us are keen to see if any of the ideas are implemented.

With the case out of the way and some more snacking, we then had a 30-minute tour of the impressive distributionlidl2 centre and got to learn more about the intricate logistics involved in the distribution processes but also got to appreciate the level of responsibility that every employee at LIDL bears. This specific Sint-Niklaas centre serves to
over 80 retail stores in Flanders, recycles 93% of its waste and has a deep freezer which we strolled into and ran back out with chattering teeth – I kid you not, it was Antarctica in there.

The day was long, but at the end we left the site very satisfied. We had seen how a big corporation brings sustainability into practice and were grateful for the opportunity to have applied some of the theoretical concepts we had learnt back in class.

Until next time,


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