Annie Chandler

26 October 2012 — IKEA Australia is looking for a national sustainability manager – and if they need to be brought up to speed on anything, the current manager will be just across the way.

Annie Chandler has been in the role three and a half years, and with IKEA for the past 13, but is keen to return to her passion for home furnishings and helping customers.

Her upcoming role at the Tempe store, in inner city Sydney, as assistant manager will provide all that.

Meanwhile, she is based at the company’s Tempe offices, which are in a former Penfolds building nearby

Ms Chandler said she intends on making the store the most sustainable in Australia.

“I think it’s fair to say we went through every sustainability challenge with building that store,” she said.

“It’s built on a landfill site, we had to move a 100-year-old fig tree – the biggest tree relocation in Australia – I’m looking at it now.

“And we’re under a flight path – so we can’t go up and we can’t go down.”

Ms Chandler says sustainability at IKEA has three main focuses. Customers, energy, people and communities.

(IKEA launches new sustainability study – www.thefifthestate.com.au/archives/40077)

The first, she says, is about inspiring customers to live a more sustainable life. This is done by selecting the right products and then ensuring that as they come into the store their sustainability journey is shared.

Ms Chandler said a survey of local customers, asking what was relevant to them, came up with “better products” with less interest in solutions.

“So we have to think ‘how do we communicate that with our customers’.”

The second main focus is energy independence.

“We have spent the past three and a half years working on that point. Energy efficiency is something that is nevergoing to happen by default, only by design.

“We have invested in modifications and year-on-year we have had reductions in raw consumption and in kilowatts per cubic metre sold. So that’s a strong reduction – but not without investment. And we have a fantastic facilities team who are always working on making the stores better.

“The best gains have been in the Melbourne market and it might just come down to what temperature do we run the store at?

“If it’s a 30 degree day what is a safe temperature for customers and staff?”

Ms Chandler said waste had also been “a big journey”.

“In a year and a half we have replaced all our waste equipment. In 2009, our Homebush and Richmond stores needed a truck every day to collect cardboard – and we had compactors.

“Now there is just one every five days. That has made a positive impact. And each year we have jumped five or 10 per cent in recycling waste.”

The third focus is “people and communities”.

“We started in 2011 to fundraise for one charity in each market and one national, which is UNICEF – we are their biggest corporate partner.

“Our staff can also apply to become UNICEF ambassadors and in November last year we took a group of co-workers to Cambodia so they can see what we do and why we chose Unicef.

“And in just 12 months we already have 24 per cent of our co-workers donating as well. We have never had that ability before.”

Ms Chandler said all sustainability ideas and programs were shared with staff.

“It’s great.

“We made a decision three and half years ago not to have individual sustainability managers at the stores. Because it should be everyone…

“So when people ask how I cope without a team I can say ‘I have a team of 1700’. I just need to sure we are all on the same page.”