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Neiman Marcus CEO Says the Company Is ‘Ahead of Achieving’ Sustainability Goals 

The retailer is focused on sustainable product and services, a culture of belonging, and supporting and leading with love in its communities.

Neiman Marcus CEO Says the Company Is ‘Ahead of Achieving’ Sustainability Goals 

Geoffroy van Raemdonck

Neiman Marcus is pushing forward with its sustainability goals — and running ahead of schedule, Geoffroy van Raemdonck, chief executive officer, told Evan Clark, WWD’s deputy managing editor at WWD’s Sustainability Summit last week.

Van Raemdonck discussed the steps Neiman Marcus has taken to become more sustainable, embrace a culture of belonging and lead with love.

It all started three-and-a-half years ago when the company developed its growth roadmap, called “Revolutionizing Luxury Experiences.” This set up the business to move from a multibrand retailer to a luxury relationship business between brands and customers. Developing and actualizing the plan was important to Neiman’s board and investors, van Raemdonck said.

The company focused on three areas: sustainable product and services, a culture of belonging, and supporting and leading with love in the communities they live in. “We call that strategy the journey to revolutionize impact,” he said.

“We want to move fast on the journey of transformation,” the CEO said. “We want to make sure that we set ambitious goals, that we update people on a regular basis. And then that we don’t only impact ourselves, but that we bring the industry along,” he said.

Specifically, Neiman’s focused on environmental issues. The company focused on climate change, sustainable and ethical product, and circular services. This all came to life in stores, online and two distribution centers.

“We had the goal of reducing Scope One and Scope Two emissions by 50 percent compared to a 2019 baseline by the time we get to 2025. And to procure 100 percent of renewable energy by 2030. Today, we’ve achieved 42 percent reduction in Scope One and Scope Two because the facilities team in every store renovation, every maintenance and in those two distribution centers have made the decision that we use that scope,” van Raemdonck said.

Neiman Marcus also set a goal to expand the life of more than 1 million items, the CEO said.

There are two sustainable edits online: Fashion for Change and Conscious Curation. For those lineups, Neiman Marcus assembles and promotes products from diverse groups, or with sustainable, ethical processes and fabrics. There are more than 400 brands in that program. “And that accounts for 7.4 percent of our sales today,” he said, noting the goal is to grow.

“We set our goals, and that one has a goal of 10 percent,” van Raemdonck said. Neiman Marcus’ next annual report will be released at the end of fiscal year 2024, and the company will have achieved that goal. “Ultimately, we are ahead of achieving our goals for 2025 which means we can set new goals and continue to push further,” he said.

More brands are moving in sustainable directions, van Raemdonck added.

“We are seeing that there’s an ecosystem around us, and we can have an influence with that ecosystem,” he said. “There’s a snowball effect. You need a couple of players and then you need more to follow.”

Neiman Marcus has a specific vantage point thanks to the relationships with luxury brands, and can use what it has learned to provide access to others.

“It’s been really interesting. The first conversations were a little bit more difficult because people were not necessarily as committed or didn’t see the path,” he said. “The way you get people committed is by showing them a path and making it easy for them … once you see that it works, and it’s not something on the side, it’s really part of how we do business,” he said.

Neiman Marcus works to communicate its sustainability strategy both internally and externally. The communication starts internally since the company has 10,000 employees “so we want 10,000 advocates,” he said. The business also extends it externally by raising money every month from their customers toward a charity.

Neiman Marcus has thus far created three ESG reports, and will release its fourth ESG report at the end of the year. Van Raemdonck said those reports speak to Neiman’s commitment and transparently show the company’s achievements so far.

Neiman Marcus intends to keep up with its sustainability plan, he said, and start decarbonizing their footprint, and look at new areas, too. “It’s a journey. So we set goals that were ambitious, and are happy that we’re reaching them ahead of time,” he said, noting the journey is not over and they want to do more.

What advice does he have for people starting out on this journey?

“Start early. There’s no reason to wait. Set your goals on what can have the most impact on who you are. At the end of the day, we’re going for impact,” he said. “There are a lot of great organizations from which we can learn, and there’s a lot of people we can bring along the journey. We are all together in this to transform the industry and to contribute to a better world tomorrow,” he said.