Global Finance, May 2016
“If we were to write a check to nature to cover the cost of our business activities, what would its value be?” The person posing this question is not a utopian Greenpeace activist. He is Michael Beutler, a onetime Ford Motor Company financial wonk who is now sustainability operations director at French luxury goods company Kering. Based in Paris, Kering controls two-dozen clothing and accessory brands, mostly luxury icons such as Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. Revenues for Kering in 2015 were €11.6 billion ($13.2 billion).
Beutler is on a quest to quantify the real long-term costs, in terms of water and air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, of producing his company’s fashion wares. The project has taken him to the far reaches of the world. “We have to map all our business processes back to the raw materials,” he says. “A pair of shoes goes back to the ranch where the cow came from.”