Krëfel continuously seeks solutions for more sustainable business processes
Electrical retailer Krëfel, part of the United.b group (Boulanger in France, Electro Dépôt in France, Spain and Belgium, Hifi International in Luxembourg), has an impressive track record when it comes to making its operations more sustainable. The roll-out of a multimodal and sustainable mobility policy, in collaboration with KBC Autolease, is a chapter in a much broader story.
The electrical chain Krëfel's fleet currently comprises 320 leased vehicles, divided into 200 cars and 120 vans. Electrification of vehicles in the latter segment is on hold pending an acceptable proposal from the market and updating of the regulations. When it comes to the electrification of leased cars, by contrast, Krëfel has already made great strides. By the end of this year, 60 per cent of the fleet will be fully or partially electric, with 156 plug-in hybrid vehicles and 30 fully electric EVs. The company's site in Humbeek has 34 charging points available. During the course of 2023, Krëfel is also planning to roll out stations at a number of Krëfel sales outlets and Krëfel delivery platforms.
‘It hasn't been easy,’ says Timothy Bogaert, Chief Value Chain Officer at Krëfel. ‘Among other things, we’ve had to cope with long lead times for the delivery of new leased vehicles. From that perspective, it’s great that KBC Autolease and Krëfel have been able to work together in extending the existing lease contracts. This helped ensure that no one was left without a car and we hardly had to use any pool vehicles. Krëfel takes a hands-off approach to its employees, who are able to do what they enjoy doing while they work. We take care of the rest.’
Sustainability is a hobbyhorse
United.b acquired the Belgian electrical chain from the Poulet family in the summer of 2019. After its incorporation in 1958, three generations of the family built the company into one of the biggest Belgian players in the sector. To support the strong growth, a central warehouse was built in Humbeek to supply the bricks-and-mortar outlets, which by now had grown to 75, and nine distribution hubs. These hubs take care of home deliveries and installations of large appliances to end customers. This approach shortens the supply chain, yielding significant savings, whilst also reducing CO2 emissions. Sustainability is something of a hobbyhorse of the company. ‘Our ‘green DNA’ goes way beyond the electrification of the company fleet,’ says Timothy Bogaert.
‘The numbers tell the story. With its carbon footprint as the starting point, Krëfel continuously seeks solutions for more sustainable business processes. ‘For example, we collect an average of 42 tonnes of plastics for recycling every year. Cardboard, Styrofoam and collected electrical appliances are also handled in an environmentally and economically responsible manner. Where possible, deliveries to customers are carried out using cargo bikes, while the power consumption of the 75 outlets is monitored and adjusted remotely. There are 2 500 solar panels on the roof of our headquarters, and we are in the process of rolling out solar installations on the roofs of our shops, too,’ says Filip Van Laethem, Service, Fleet & Contract Manager at Krëfel. Out of a concern for the future of our planet and our fellow human beings, the electrical chain provided a home for 200 000 bees at its site in Humbeek and, in collaboration with Natuurpunt, planted a forest in Meise.
In its mobility policy, Krëfel is going all out for a multimodal approach. ‘All employees who have worked for us for six months can sign up for a leased bike through the salary sacrifice system.
We now have 107 lease bikes in production. We do all we can to get as many of our staff on bikes as possible, because there are many benefits, both in terms of their health and of reduced CO2 emissions,’ says Fleet Officer Jill Vande Wynckel.
For the lease bike quote and ordering process, Krëfel uses KBC MoveSmart , the free tool that allows fleet managers to view the technical, tax and usage specifications of a leased car or bike, simulate quotes independently and place an order if required. Drivers can use KBC MoveSmart to track their quotes. ‘If everything goes well, an employee can take delivery of their bike within two weeks, provided the bike is available from the dealer. It has really paid off to invest in the system internally, so we’re very happy with it,’ Jill adds.