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19 December 2019

REWE Group: “Human rights are non-negotiable”

Regulating the duty of care to bolster human rights along the supply chain

Coffee farmers harvesting in the mountains
Seventy-one years have passed since the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—and it’s still just as crucial and relevant. Its international operations mean that the REWE Group procures a multitude of products via global supply chains every day. The cooperatively organised trade and tourism group has long been dedicated to ensuring that violations of labour, social welfare and environmental standards have no place in the supply chain, especially at the cultivation and processing stages.

Dr Daniela Büchel, REWE Group Executive Board Member Retail Germany, says, “Human rights are non-negotiable. The REWE Group has implemented projects and measures over many years that are specifically geared toward bolstering human rights, improving working conditions and promoting fair trade. A binding framework along the global supply chain that creates fair conditions is needed so that every company along the value chain lives up to its responsibility equally. National laws governing the supply chain don’t do enough. We want to have an international solution that is binding for all players. We stand ready to develop concrete proposals and measures in constructive dialog with other relevant participants in the industry. The challenges cannot be met simply by shifting responsibility within the supply chain. It is not okay to exploit people to gain a competitive advantage.”

Principles of the REWE Group sustainability strategy include strengthening human rights, preventing child labour and forced labour, and promoting fair trade as well as a living wage in the countries of origin for critical raw materials. The Group relies on multistep supply-chain management to develop and implement measures. This management includes formulating concrete requirements, buying certified raw materials, implementing social and environmental projects in the countries of origin, independent auditing of processing steps, qualification of suppliers with the help of training programmes, and developing an independent complaint procedure. Requirements and goals are consistently reviewed and regularly updated.

The REWE Group published a policy statement on human rights in 2019 as an expression of its responsibility in which its board commits to upholding human rights both in its immediate business activities and in the global supply chains. In its 2019 fairness guideline, the REWE Group defines the mandatory operational framework for its business relationships along the supply chains for REWE, PENNY, and toom DIY stores. It is oriented towards the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the conventions of the ILO (International Labour Organization) on labour and social welfare standards, the United Nations Principles on Business and Human Rights, the UN Global Compact and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and eliminating all forms of discrimination against women.

The cooperatively organised REWE Group is one of the leading trade and tourism groups in Germany and Europe. In 2018, the company generated a total external turnover of around 61 billion euros. Founded in 1927, the REWE Group has more than 360,000 employees in 22 European countries.

Sales lines include REWE, REWE CENTER, BILLA, MERKUR and ADEG supermarkets and consumer stores, the discounter PENNY, BIPA health and beauty store and the toom Baumarkt DIY stores. There are also convenience stores (REWE To Go) and e-commerce activities (the REWE delivery service, Zooroyal online pet food shop, Weinfreunde wine shop and Kölner Weinkeller wine merchant). Travel and tourism under the umbrella of DER Touristik Group includes the tour operators ITS, Jahn Reisen, Dertour, Meier’s Weltreisen, ADAC Reisen, Kuoni, Helvetic Tours, Apollo and Exim Tours, and more than 2,400 travel agencies (including DER Reisebüro, DERPART and partners), the hotel chains ITI Hotels, Club Calimera, COOEE, PrimaSol and Playitas Resort, and the direct tour operator,