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Two ways that leading retail businesses are investing in sustainability

Repairs taking place in Curry's electronics repair centre. Image courtesy of Currys

Sustainability is moving ever further up retail agendas as businesses look for ways to operate in a way that better reflects their customers’ values. Today we’re reporting on how both Currys and Ikea group company Ingka Investments are looking to very different ways of advancing sustainability within their own businesses. 

Currys: selling refurbished technology

Currys is trialling sales of refurbished technology on its website as its customers look both to spend less and buy more sustainably.

The retailer started selling pre-owned mobiles, laptops and Chromebooks on its website in November and says that sales have boomed since then, with 80% of refurbished lines selling out in the first week of sales. Demand has been particularly high for refurbished laptops, with customers finding their own way to Currys’ refurbished listings rather than being brought in through marketing activity. Currys started by selling only products that were graded in ‘excellent’ condition, but from this week is selling items that are ‘very good’ or ‘fair’. 

The retailer cites Vodafone/OnePoll research findings from November, that suggest 73% of respondents to its study would consider buying secondhand phones for cost reasons, while 55% would do so for environmental reasons. 

Mandeep Gobindpuri, head of development – circular economy at Currys, says: “In the UK we produce the second highest amount of e-waste per capita in the world. As much as we all love brand-new tech, we need to address this challenge. E-waste is a core reason why we are committed to our ‘Long Live Your Tech’ campaign, which helps customers make more informed environmental decisions when buying and disposing of technology.

“Buying refurbished saves customers money and saves good tech from landfill. This trial is a win for customers, and a win for the planet.

Currys’ refurbished stock goes through its dedicated tech repair centre, where 600,000 individual items were processed in the last 12 months. Previously, it was sold only through the Currys clearance eBay store, but now it is also sold through the Currys website where shoppers can opt for the full range of payment options, including a choice of buy-now-pay-later methods. 

All items are sold with a 12-month technical guarantee, and the retailer also guarantees that they will come with charging power outlets and leads. 

Currys is ranked Top100 in RXUK Top500 research

Ingka Investments: investing in the ‘blue economy’

Ingka Investments has invested in the ‘blue economy’ for the first time as as it puts €30m into the Ocean 14 Capital fund. The fund, focused on sustainable solutions to improve ocean health, has so far raised €130m  since launch in November 2021. The fund uses the United Nations Sustainable Development goal number 14: life below water, looking for entrepreneurs and businesses working around aquaculture and alternative proteins, protecting ecosystems and marine flora, ending overfishing and reducing plastic pollution. OECD predicts that the blue economy will be worth $3 trillion by the end of 2030, and will provide employment for 40m people. 

Ingka Investments head of financial markets Samuel Rundle says: “Ingka Group is guided by the Ikea vision to create a better everyday life for the many. As a purpose-led company, our aim is to invest with impact, delivering positive returns for communities and the environment for generations to come. Ocean health is critical to a cleaner and more inclusive recovery. We were very impressed with the strategy of the Ocean 14 team and are excited to support the acceleration of sustainable solutions to improve our oceans.”

Chris Gorell Barnes, co-founder of Ocean 14 Capital, says: “It is a real testament to the quality of our fund and intention that Ingka Investments has come on board in such a significant capacity. If there’s no ocean, there’s no us – it connects us all. It provides food security and plays a vital role in achieving the UN sustainability agenda.

“Davos 2023 radically shifted the dial on the conversation this year. There is a powerful undercurrent of momentum emerging as people are increasingly waking up to the fact that ocean’s health is the engine to economic growth – and critical to national and global development.”

Ingka Investments is one of three core businesses of Ingka Group, the largest owner and operator of Ikea Retail. 

Ikea is ranked Top250 in RXUK Top500 research

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