Woolworths SA: Making Sustainability Sustainable

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CASE STUDY. In February 2009, Justin Smith, manager of the Good business journey at Woolworths, a leading South African department store, was a worried man.

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Woolworths SA: Making Sustainability Sustainable: Abstract

Woolworths SA: Making Sustainability Sustainable is a case study by John Luiz and Amanda Bowen.

In February 2009, Justin Smith, manager of the Good business journey at Woolworths, a leading South African department store, was a worried man. Woolworths had launched its five-year sustainability strategy just under two years before. After undertaking an impact assessment, Smith was concerned that the original targets – which covered transformation, social development, the environment and climate change (see Exhibit 1) – had been set without a clear understanding of exactly what it would take to achieve them. Woolworths had recently identified 10 key risk areas that impacted on the achievement of its original goals. If the sustainability goals were not reached, Woolworths could lose credibility among its shareholders, staff and consumers. What did Woolworths need to do to ensure that it achieved its sustainability goals? And had the company been too ambitious in the targets it had set initially, he wondered?

Teaching objectives

This case has the following objectives:

  • To examine the differences, if any, between sustainable development in South Africa and other developing nations and sustainable development in developed nations
  • To impart an understanding of sustainability in its broadest sense
  • To investigate the challenges in implementing sustainability strategies in business; to look at ways of measuring the success of sustainability strategies
  • To explore whether and how sustainability strategies should differ across industry sectors and across companies

Additional information

Teaching Notes are only included with the «Licence Enseignement par professeurs/Teaching License»).

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