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Akhila Vijayaraghavan headshot

PUMA Launches First "Sustainable Store" in India

PUMA has been the frontrunner in sustainability innovation for many years now. They have been working towards a toxin-free line of products, compostable clothing and, have been using interesting methods to get consumer base involved with their sustainability efforts. More importantly, they are also the first company to put a financial value on their environmental impact which has put them in a league of their own when it comes to industry best practices. Ever since PUMA's clever little bag became the company's icon a couple of years ago, the retailer has pushed itself. However, it did come as a surprise when it announced the location of its first self-sufficient, sustainable store in Bangalore earlier this month. Bangalore is India's high-tech city and a growing metropolis with a large expat population. It is, therefore, an ideal place for PUMA to introduce its sustainable store. However, the company's rationale of launching its first ever fully sustainable store in India is rather baffling on the surface. Digging deeper, it does demonstrate its commitment to sustainability even outside the more stringent environmental norms present in its Western markets. It shows the company's vision of CSR that is independent of what is expected in the country of its operation and points towards a direction that it wants to follow because it feels it should. Indeed, launching such a store in London, New York and even Beijing or Hong Kong would not have made such a big statement as the launch in Bangalore. It is safe to say that PUMA is the first mega-retailer to make such a bold foray into India and it will be exciting to see if others will follow suit. The store which is located Indiranagar, one of Bangalore's most popular commercial areas, features solar power very prominently. Instead of air conditioning, it uses a  geothermal cooling system - a highly insulated shell and an underground heat sink system keeps the temperature constant throughout the year. In addition to this, 90 percent of the store has access to natural daylight which minimizes the need for artificial lighting. Only super-efficient LED lights are used where lighting is absolutely needed. The design of the building utilizes a lot of recycled and upcycled materials including the use of recycled steel for its facade. The mezzanine floor is made with bamboo and it is suspended from the ceiling in such a way that it can be dismantled and moved if needed. All the clothing uses Fair trade-certified cotton. The store is bedecked with jute posters and it had a completely carbon neutral launch. All this is very new for the average Indian customer, for whom the sustainability quotient of a retail space barely has any correlation to the overall shopping experience. PUMA might just be challenging the status quo of the average Indian shopper and simultaneously targeting younger markets with its ultra-tech retail space. It will definitely put more of a focus on the design of retail space within the country which is rapidly booming. With this launch, PUMA may have just done something amazing  - it has forged the way with a clear message that green is possible in mainstream retail, even in India. Image Credit: PUMA www.puma.com
Akhila Vijayaraghavan headshotAkhila Vijayaraghavan

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also http://www.thegreenden.net

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