Max Hamburger Restaurants shows sustainability pays off
Sweden's Max Hamburger Restaurants chain continues to inspire the world with evidence that sustainable business pays off. In this post we're pleased to share recent media coverage from Harvard Business Review and TEDx Presidio.
Max is a great example of how use of a sustainability framework, strategic thinking, strong values, solid hard work and attention to the business case can help companies do well by doing good. Keep it up Max!
Acknowledgements to HBR and TEDx Presidio.
A Swedish Burger Chain Says "Minimize Me"
Last week I wrote about how eating less meat was the best way to reduce your food's carbon footprint. But what do you do if you want to be a responsible corporate citizen and you sell fast food? Well, I think your company would look a lot like
I recently spoke to Richard Bergfors, the CEO (and son of the founders) of this unusual 44-year-old "fast" food chain. With 3000 employees and about $200 million in revenue,
In 2000, the company set a new strategy focused on the word "fresh." The leaders looked closely at every ingredient and reduced fat, salt, and sugar, and eliminated genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and trans fats. The menu got healthier, with multiple side options besides fries, 10 drinks with no added sugar, and a selection of darker, healthier breads. The company now sources 100% of its beef and chicken — and 90% of all its product — locally.
To explore its broader climate impact, the firm started working with Swedish thought leaders
But perhaps the most surprising thing this company does is try to influence its customers to buy less meat. Quick reminder: the chain is called
In 2004, a golden marketing opportunity came along with the launch of the documentary Supersize Me, which followed director Morgan Spurlock as he ate only McDonald's food for 30 days.
The result of all these efforts is a more sustainable burger chain that's telling everyone to eat less meat, and doing so profitably. The mix of non-beef products is 30% higher than it used to be. But the profit margins are very high.
Bergfors reports that his stores are averaging 11 to 15 percent profit margins versus 2 to 5 percent at the big name competitors. He says
Of course a family run company always has more leeway to act on values (see Patagonia, the prime example). As Bergfors told me, "we've always done things a bit differently — the goal is greater than to just maximize profit." But it's still a business, and in the next breath he said, "we're profit driven and like to make a profit like everyone else...but we don't put profit first...we don't have to maximize profit and we can care for people and the planet we're living on."
Andrew Winston is the co-author of the best-seller Green to Gold and the author of Green Recovery. He advises some of the world’s biggest companies on environmental strategy. Follow him on Twitter at @GreenAdvantage.