Heinemann targets a sustainable future; second UN Communication on Progress

By Andrew Pentol |

Max Heinemann, CEO, Gebr. Heinemann.

Gebr. Heinemann has emphasised its commitment to responsible corporate governance by publishing its second UN Global Compact Communication on Progress.

The German family-owned company has been a member of the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest and most important initiative for responsible corporate governance, since 2018.

By participating, Heinemann is demonstrating its commitment to human rights, fair labour conditions, environmental protection and anti-corruption. Gebr. Heinemann is now reporting on measures and initiatives implemented in these areas.

Max Heinemann, CEO, Gebr. Heinemann and representative of the fifth generation of owners said: “Corporate Responsibility has been at the core of our DNA and daily work since the founding of our family business over 140 years ago.

“The requirements have changed over the generations and are even more demanding today within our worldwide duty free business. The UN principles and goals serve as a very helpful compass to us, especially in times of a global and market-changing crisis.”


The travel industry and all parts of its value chain are experiencing one of the most difficult years. The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has shaken and will continue to shake the foundations of the industry.

Gebr. Heinemann has been a member of the United Nations Global Compact since 2018.

Gebr. Heinemann has been impacted by the pandemic like other DF&TR stakeholders. The management is convinced that responsibility in times of crisis and the need to shape a sustainable future for the company are more important than ever.

Corporate Social Responsibility, therefore, is not a project for Gebr. Heinemann, but a commitment. Dr Jennifer Cords, Director, Corporate Affairs commented: “With our communication on progress, we would like to set a mark on the importance and momentousness of acting responsibly — even in times of crisis.

“This also means to keep asking critical questions to do what is right. The Covid-19 pandemic is an extreme learning curve for all. The exchange with our business partners and suppliers, as well as the commitment of our colleagues around the globe have encouraged us to continue our journey towards more responsibility in the travel industry within the scope of our current possibilities.”

Examples of progress in the reporting period August 2019 to August 2020 include the introduction of Responsible cosmetic products (UN Sustainable Development Goal 12).

Dr Jennifer Cords, Director, Corporate Affairs says the company would like to set a mark on the importance of acting responsibly.

In the first half of the reporting period, before the outbreak of Covid-19, Gebr. Heinemann introduced ‘Clean Beauty’ products (pictured below) at additional sites. These high-quality products are positive for the body and the environment, thus meeting customer demand for conscious, sustainable consumption.

A further example of progress is Stakeholder Dialogue (UN Sustainable Development Goal 17). In September 2019, Gebr. Heinemann made Corporate Responsibility a business priority at the company’s annual Strategy Day.

It started a dialogue with suppliers from different industries throughout a Sustainability Panel. The travel retailer continued this exchange on a European stage at the European Travel Retail Confederation Business Forum in February 2020.

Human Rights Risk Analysis (UN Sustainable Development Goal 8) has also been undertaken by Heinemann. Companies part of the UN Global Compact ensure they are not complicit in human rights violations.


In 2019, Gebr. Heinemann carried out an extensive human rights risk analysis of around 24,000 products in the Heinemann Australia range. On the one hand, the findings of this analysis will be published in a Modern Slavery Statement and are an opportunity for dialogue with suppliers who manufacture in countries with critical production conditions. On the other hand, they serve as a blueprint for the gradual expansion to other Heinemann sites.

The final example of progress is the company’s ability to avoid food destruction (UN Sustainable Development Goal 12).

Even in times of crisis, Gebr. Heinemann is particularly concerned with the sustainable handling of goods and food. In April 2020, therefore, charitable institutions received Easter goods that were already delivered to closed airport shops throughout Europe.

In Singapore, Heinemann Asia Pacific representatives donated confectionery, which could not be delivered to retail shops and distribution customers, to food banks, migrant worker charities and frontline healthcare workers.

Corporate Responsibility was a business priority at the company’s 2019 annual Strategy Day.

Simultaneously, however, measures planned for 2020 were temporarily postponed due to Covid-19. This applied to the publication of the already completed Code of Ethics, which will be applied to the Heinemann Group and suppliers and business partners. Time and attention are required to anchor the Code of Ethics with all stakeholders in a serious and sustainable way.

Max Heinemann added: “For us, the art of entrepreneurial action is to carefully weigh up the ecological and social challenges and opportunities in every economic decision.

“Our aim is to remain an innovation driver in the travel retail market in the future. We are not alone on this journey. We want to encourage a sustainable value chain in which we work closely with our suppliers and partners, jointly defining and fulfilling high environmental and social standards and working to ensure these are adhered to in the market.

“As a retailer, we are at the centre of the supply chain and have a huge sphere of influence, from product suppliers, through logistics and duty free shops, to the traveller — perfect for influencing others and being inspired by those already ahead of us in this area.”

The complete UN Global Compact Communication on Progress can be found here.


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