Holt Renfrew 1st Retailer in Canada to Adopt Science-Based Sustainability Targets


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Toronto-based luxury multi-brand retailer Holt Renfrew is the first retailer in Canada to set approved science-based targets for carbon reduction. It’s part of a larger initiative by Holts to make its store operations more sustainable. 

In a released statement, Holt Renfrew said that its announcement “places sustainability at the heart of Holt Renfrew” and that the company is “committed to reinventing retail for a better future, alongside the global Selfridges Group of stores.” 

As part of the initiative, Holts is aiming to reduce its emissions with levels required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. These targets include reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the retailer’s operations (Scope 1 and 2), as well as Scope 3 which is consistent with reductions required to keep global warming to 1.5°C. 

Holt Renfrew at Yorkdale Shopping Centre
Holt Renfrew at Yorkdale Shopping Centre – Photo by Dustin Fuhs (July 31st, 2021)

The specific targets include: 

  • A reduction in absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 65% by 2030 (from a 2019 base year), 
  • A reduction in absolute Scope 3 GHG emissions by 28% by 2030 (from a 2019 base year), and
  • a move where 67% of Holt Renfrew’s suppliers, as well upstream and downstream transportation, will have science-based targets by 2025. 
Sebastian Picardo

Holt Renfrew’s President and CEO Sebastian Picardo said, “Since joining Holt Renfrew last year, the team and I have been listening to our customers, our employees, and our communities across the country to better understand what they want from Holts. Our customers are at the centre of our business, and we want to ensure that sustainability and innovation are at the forefront of their experience at Holts.” 

Picardo went on to say, “Retail can be a force for good, and we know that our customers want to make trusted, responsible purchases. Our 360-degree commitment to sustainability removes the barriers for them, allowing them to shop with confidence, in a responsible way.” 

Adding to this week’s announcement are other sustainability commitments on the part of the retailer. Holt Renfrew says that the most environmentally impactful materials across its business will come from certified/verified sustainable sources by the end of 2025 which will include a focus on cotton, leather, down and feathers, plastic packaging, palm oil, and forest-derived fibres such as paper, wood and cellulosic. 

By the end of this year, Holt Renfrew will stop selling all animal fur and exotic skins in a partnership with the Humane Society International/Canada. Holts will also stop selling cosmetic products that contain plastic glitter. 

By the end of 2024, Holt Renfrew will improve waste diversion rates in all of its stores by 85% and by the end of 2025, denim sold at Holts will come from certified/verified sustainable sources. 

Holt Renfrew 2nd Level entrance at "The Core" in Calgary
Holt Renfrew 2nd Level entrance at “The Core” in Calgary. Photo: Jessica Finch.

Construction is commonplace in Holt Renfrew stores as the company has been investing heavily in its fleet. In an effort to be more sustainable, the retailer says that it has developed Green Build Guidelines for design, visual and construction teams that outline requirements for sustainable building materials and products that benefit the planet and also cultivate heathy indoor air quality. 

A recently announced partnership with TerraCycle has allowed Holt Renfrew to facilitate recycling beauty products and packaging collected in Holt Renfrew stores across the country. It’s an initiative seen in other retailers such as Sephora. 

Holt Renfrew operates six large stores in the Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal markets. That includes stores at CF Pacific Centre in downtown Vancouver, The CORE in downtown Calgary, 50 Bloor Street West in Toronto, Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto, Square One in Mississauga, and a massive Holt Renfrew Ogilvy store in downtown Montreal. Holts also operates a standalone men’s store at 100 Bloor Street West in Toronto as well as an expanding e-commerce site with thousands of designer products for women and men. 

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Publisher & CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Advisor at the University of Alberta School Centre for Cities and Communities in Edmonton, former lawyer and a public speaker. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for over 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees.


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