Industry heavyweights take a stand against climate change

JohannesburgWhen endurance swimmer and environmental campaigner, Lewis Gordon Pugh, takes on his most extreme challenge yet, Pick n Pay and SAP Africa will be with him every step of the way.

The country’s leading retailer and business software vendor have joined forces to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability initiatives by supporting Pugh in his quest to complete a 1km swim across a glacial lake under the summit of Mount Everest, to draw attention to the impact of climate change.

Scheduled for 22 May 2010, Pugh will attempt to complete the swim at an altitude of 5 300 metres in the freezing waters of a lake on the Khumbu Glacier, wearing only a Speedo, cap and goggles. This challenge is the latest in his expeditions to raise awareness about the devastating effects of climate change.

Said Pick n Pay Sustainability Director, Bronwen Rohland: “As retailers, we cannot ignore the fact that global warming is a threat to food security and that the African continent will be one of the areas hardest hit. This partnership provides us with the ideal platform from which to launch an educational and awareness campaign, predominantly targeted at the youth, in order to draw attention to this very real issue. We believe SAP Africa is the ideal partner for Pick n Pay on this journey, as they are not only global leaders in their core business, but also in respect of their commendable sustainable development initiatives around the world.”

Through the Pick n Pay School Club, climate change educational material will be developed and incorporated into the South African school curriculum and made available to all schools throughout the country. At least 2 000 South African schools will be directly impacted by this initiative. The aim is to reach over 1 million children at schools around South Africa – from the most impoverished to the most privileged.

In a career spanning over 20 years, Pugh has pioneered more swims around famous landmarks than any other swimmer. In 2006, he achieved the “holy grail” of swimming when he became the first person to complete a long-distance swim in every ocean of the world. Widely regarded as the best cold-water swimmer in history, he was also the first person to undertake a long-distance swim in the frozen waters of the Arctic and the Antarctic.

Martin Schirmer, Director: Large Enterprises at SAP Africa, said SAP has a dual strategy of being both an exemplar of sustainability, as well as a provider of solutions that contribute to improved sustainability of SAP customers. “We took the opportunity of partnering with Pick n Pay to sponsor this project as it gives further credence to the sustainability drives of both organisations,” he said. “Lewis has undertaken some of the most gruelling swimming endurance challenges in the name of raising awareness about global warming and the fact that everyone can and should contribute – values that are very close to us as a global organisation.”

The business software vendor has a strong heritage in the area of environmental awareness and initiatives and has been named to the Corporate Knights Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations list for six consecutive years. Building on that tradition, SAP announced aggressive targets last year to reduce its CO2 emissions by the year 2020 to 2000 levels.

“SAP reaches more than 65% of global GDP by transaction and serves more than 95 000 customers who account for more than one sixth of global manmade greenhouse gases, which places us in a strong position to not only change mindsets, but also make a contribution to lowering emissions. We have a full suite of solutions that aid our customers to monitor and measure their sustainability performance. By aligning ourselves with projects such as this, we believe that we will spread that message to a broader community,” Said Schirmer.

Pick n Pay Retailers

* The Pick n Pay Group was founded in 1967 as a family controlled business with only four small stores in the Western Cape. The founder is the recently retired Mr Raymond Ackerman.

* The group was listed on the JSE Securities Exchange the following year (as Pick n Pay Stores Limited), and grew into a leading retail group.

* Concentrating on food, clothing and general merchandise, the Pick n Pay Group is managed through three divisions – Pick n Pay Retail Division; the Group Enterprises Division; and Franklins Australia, each with their management boards. Today the Pick n Pay Group is one of Africa’s largest and most consistently successful retailers.

* The Pick n Pay Group has a total of 775 stores, comprising Hypermarkets, Supermarkets and Family Stores (which are franchise stores).

* Since its inception, Pick n Pay has maintained a positive reputation for defending and championing the interests of the consumer.

* Pick n Pay is concerned with the full spectrum of environmental and social issues associated with our business and macro environment. Our focus is primarily on the communities in which we operate and which make our business possible. As a company, Pick n Pay has always placed great priority on these matters; and for many years we have sought ways to promote awareness and opportunities for positive action.

* To this end, the company actively engages with numerous organisations – from schools and environmental NGOs to government departments and suppliers, as well as millions of customers, in our quest to find solutions to social and environmental challenges.

* Pick n Pay was recently awarded the Sunday Times Top Brand Grand Prix Award for being the company that has done the most to promote “green” issues, as well as the social upliftment of communities.

* Being a “good corporate citizen” defines Pick n Pay’s conduct as an organisation.

* Pick n Pay was one of the first companies in South Africa to make a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility.

* Pick n Pay is a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact and the Copenhagen Communiqué.

* As part of the company induction, new employees are made aware of Pick n Pay’s commitment to the environment. This ensures that employees at all levels throughout the company see environmental responsibility as an intrinsic element of their work, and not as an additional function.

* Through effective communication, Pick n Pay seeks to create an awareness of environmental issues among its employees, customers and local communities. This is done via environmental fact sheets and the recognition of major environmental events.

Pick n Pay School Club (www.schoolclub.co.za)

* The Pick n Pay School Club is widely acknowledged as one of South Africa’s most dynamic and successful education channels.

* Pick n Pay currently assists educational development within the wider socio-economic context of South Africa through the Pick n Pay School Club.

* The Pick n Pay School Club allows schools to benefit from business participation in the further educational development of our country’s future leaders.

* Currently in its fifth year, there are 1,840 South African schools registered with this curriculum-based programme, a figure that is set to increase to 2 046 in 2010.

* Through the Pick n Pay/Lewis Pugh climate change awareness and education campaign, the Pick n Pay School Club will develop environmental material to be incorporated into the South African school curriculum.

* Through the Pick n Pay School Club, Pick n Pay will sponsor Lewis Pugh to talk to South African youth about his past and future expeditions. Through this partnership, Pick n Pay aims to achieve the following:

* Illustrate to youth, in ways that are both meaningful and accessible, the devastating effects of climate change on our planet.

* Inspire and motivate the youth of South Africa to make informed choices that will ultimately make a difference to the future.

* Encourage South African youth to consider a future career or vocation in an environmental field in order to build capacity in this crucial area.


SAP is the world’s leading provider of business software(*), offering applications and services that enable companies of all sizes and in more than 25 industries to become best-run businesses. With more than 95 000 customers in over 120 countries, the company is listed on several exchanges, including the Frankfurt stock exchange and NYSE, under the symbol “SAP”. For more information, visit www.sap.com.

Lewis Gordon Pugh

Lewis was the first person to swim across an open patch of sea at the North Pole in July 2007 to draw attention to the melting sea ice. The 1km swim took 18 minutes and 50 seconds in freezing temperatures of minus 1.8 centigrade – the coldest water a human has ever swum in.

In 2006, Lewis swam the entire length of the River Thames (350 km), which had stopped flowing, to highlight the impact of the drought in the UK. In February 2007 he swam across the width of the Maldives, a distance of some 87 miles, to raise awareness about the impact of rising sea level on the lowest islands in the world.

In 2009, he received the highest honour from the South African government, the Order of Ikhamanga, for his “exceptional sporting triumphs, humanitarian feats and creating consciousness about the negative effects of global warming”. It was awarded in the Gold Class. This honour had only ever been awarded in the gold class to two other sportsmen – Gary Player (golf) and Steve Mokono (football).

In 2010, he was appointed a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum in recognition of his “commitment to society and the potential to contribute to shaping the world through inspiring leadership”. Follow Lewis on twitter – twitter.com/lewispugh and on facebook – lewisgordonpugh.

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