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France: Action revolutionizes consumption in an innovative & sustainable way at Paris Retail Week

Discount Variety Retail Chain Action France's managing director Wouter de Backer discusses the logistical challenges, corporate culture and sustainability issues Action is facing.

With more than 750 stores and 17,000 employees in France alone, how does Action manage to maintain a strong and united corporate culture? We currently have 5 distribution centers in France, which allows us to ensure the delivery of our stores. Our employees are the backbone of Action. We make sure they feel good working at Action. We offer employment opportunities to a large number of people in 11 European countries; We offer them training and development opportunities to enable them to progress. We invest in the continuous development of our employees. We create new jobs and offer career opportunities, as well as opportunities for growth and development for our employees. We believe that internal promotions are a key factor for engagement, retention and recruitment. They are also essential to preserve our DNA, as we grow. Our rapid expansion allows us to offer opportunities for internal mobility and promotion. We are implementing specific measures to strengthen employee engagement and increase our net promoter score, while preserving and valuing diversity among our workforce. Finally, we deploy a strategy focused on health and safety, with a focus on the overall well-being and retention of our teams.

Action experienced significant growth with a 30% increase in total group sales. In your opinion, what factors have contributed to this success? Action offers a unique concept that customers love no matter where they are: Action's formula is based on a wide range of products in 14 different categories at very low prices, of which 2/3 of the assortment is constantly changing. A visit to an Action store is therefore always unexpected and surprising, which is exactly what our customers love. They know they can shop at very low prices with a clear conscience, as more and more of the products on our shelves are sustainably sourced.

A visit to an Action store is always unexpected and surprising, which is exactly what our customers love.

Currently, Action offers 73 private labels on its shelves. How do you choose them? We have private label in all categories, both permanent and seasonal. Currently, the choice is on a good mix. However, apart from that, Action consistently offers the lowest prices. Whether they are well-known brands, private labels or supplier brands, we have the ambition to offer them at a lower price than other competing stores.

The Zenova sunscreen product recently received an award. What makes it unique? How do you guarantee its respect for reefs and its microplastic-free composition? Zenova is one of our private labels, and we are very proud of it. With sustainability in mind, the packaging of Zenova's products is made from at least 50% recycled plastic. According to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), microplastics are solid plastic particles that do not degrade once in the environment. Zenova's formulations were developed without microplastics, according to ECHA's report, which identifies more than 520 compounds as microplastics.

Zenova products do not contain ingredients of animal origin, such as honey, milk, eggs, etc. The "Reef Friendly" label guarantees compliance with coral reef protection laws in Hawaii, Aruba and Bonaire, established in 2022.

You distribute the vegan cosmetics brand Alvira. How do you perceive the evolution of demand for vegan products today? We have effectively integrated sustainability into our business strategy. We believe that it is possible to continuously offer our always surprising assortment at very low prices, while continuously improving the quality and durability of our products, as well as our operation. We source and sell safe, good quality products at low prices, manufactured in accordance with our ethical and environmental principles, thus minimizing the direct impact on the environment. We are progressing and continuing to progress every day. It's in our DNA. Our cost sensitivity makes us very conscious of conserving materials and resources, as well as reducing waste.

FSC certification for sustainable products target

FSC certification is an international standard for responsible forest management. It aims to ensure that forest products come from sustainable sources. Action, through Mini Matters, ensures that its wooden toys comply with these standards. To date, 92% of Action's wood products are sustainably sourced. In addition, the company has advanced its goals, planning to supply 100% certified sustainable cotton by the end of 2023. At the same time, Action is working to improve the circularity of its products, with a focus on reducing packaging and extending the shelf life of products.


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