What Sustainability Means at Musgrave, message from Chris Martin, CEO

Chris MartinThroughout our history, Musgrave has maintained a strong commitment to sustainability by running our business in a way that considers social, environmental and economic well-being. As early as the 1990s Musgrave pioneered ambitious waste reduction and recycling programmes in the food retail and wholesale sector. As such sustainability has long been embedded throughout our business and strong foundations have been laid. Today we are one of 23 companies in Ireland to have achieved the Business Working Responsibly Mark from Business in the Community Ireland. Audited by the NSAI, the mark is based on ISO 26000 and looks at how we, as an organisation, treat customers, employees, our suppliers, our communities and the environment.

We are very proud to receive the mark and here Chris Martin, CEO Musgrave explains Musgrave’s sustainability commitment and how the UN Sustainable Development Goals are being used as a driver for growing good business.

As a family business that thinks long term, the Musgrave approach to sustainability is hardwired into the very DNA of Musgrave. It is rooted in the foundations of our business, brought to life through our brands and drives our way of working, be it among our retail partners, suppliers or colleagues.

When people ask me about the success of Musgrave, I invariably find myself talking about the values that have sustained the business throughout its history – long term stable relationships, honesty, working hard and achievement. The longer I am with the business, the more I recognise the impact that these values have on everything we do at Musgrave – these behaviours have just become inherent in the way we do business. Against this backdrop, I have confidence that sustainability will continue to guide our business long into the future. When we launched our new strategy ‘Growing Good Business’ in January this year, what emerged was that colleagues were inspired not just by growing the business but by growing good business for the future. They are attracted to and motivated by businesses that have and behave with a social conscious – it connects with their own values. By focusing on Growing Good Business and through living our values we now have a business purpose which embodies sustainable business practices and is an attractive business to work in.

This purpose is encapsulated in our new vision which is to work in partnership to develop highly successful brands that achieve sustainable, profitable returns, enrich everyday lives and contribute to a healthier, more prosperous, environmentally-conscious society. In a nutshell, it is about leaving a positive and lasting legacy for future generations.

As the number one grocery retailer and wholesaler in Ireland we feed 1 in 3 people in the country. We have a unique position in the Irish food supply chain and through our partnership with almost 1,500 SMEs, local retailers; we are at the heart of every community across the country. As a leading Irish business we have the opportunity, if not the responsibility, to positively impact those within our sphere of influence – we are committed to using our position to help and to influence SMEs in this country to become more sustainable. There is no reason why a sustainable approach to business cannot equally apply to a small business in a rural environment as a large business in an urban metropolis. For me the same principles apply – make it authentic and practical for the business, its people and customers and the environment in which they operate. Through supporting our people, our customers and our local communities we can create sustainable wealth for the benefit of all stakeholders in the long term. In effect, this is our sustainability strategy – to look after people, the planet and prosperity.

Within the business we have aligned our sustainability strategy with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We believe that the SDGs mark a new era in global development and that all business can use the SDGs as a guide to increase the effectiveness of their sustainability strategy. At Musgrave we have selected nine SDG areas, as put forward by PWC for the retail sector, where we feel we have the opportunity to make the greatest impact and where we can contribute to the advancement of the global sustainable development agenda.

These nine areas have been translated into four broad categories that now drive our sustainability strategy. These are:

  • climate change;
  • sustainable sourcing and consumption;
  • health and well-being; and
  • leadership in the community.

Using the SDG’s in this way, we believe we can be at our most effective in creating a positive and lasting legacy.

In this our 140th year in business, we are thinking about the next chapter in our evolution. Receiving the Business Working Responsibly Mark is testament to our commitment to continue on our sustainability journey. I believe we have achieved a lot and that we can and will go even further. Irish business has a unique opportunity and a responsibility to use its collective power to deliver sustainable outcomes for people today and for future generations.

I look forward to being a part of it.

Chris Martin is CEO of Musgrave Group, Ireland’s largest grocery and food distributor. Founded in Cork in 1876, in 2016 Musgrave celebrates 140 years in family business, supporting thousands of other family businesses.

Musgrave partners with over 1,451 independent retailers throughout the Island of Ireland and Spain. Almost 45,000 people work either directly for Musgrave or in one of the stores associated with the brands, 35,000 of whom are in Ireland – making the company Ireland’s largest private employer. 

Under Chris’ direction, the business has focused strongly on partnering with entrepreneurial retailers to grow and develop retail and wholesale brands. SuperValu, Centra, MarketPlace and Daybreak are all in the number one market-leading position in their respective industry categories.

Prior to joining Musgrave, Chris held a number of high-level retail positions including CEO of Mothercare plc, Group Finance Director of Storehouse plc and various roles in ASDA and Pizza Hut. 

Chris was a member of the EU High Level Group on Retail Competitiveness, the CEDRA (Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas) Expert Group in Ireland, and is a Fellow of the IGD, UK and of the Royal Society of Arts.

An economics graduate of Newcastle University, he is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. 

Chris also sits on the board of Business in the Community Ireland.

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