Kinepolis - A journey along the management cycle

Two years ago, well-known Belgian cinema operator Kinepolis decided to shift from its separate “Green Star” approach to start integrating sustainability more into its daily business operations. Kinepolis first partnered with Sustainalize/ERM in 2020 and has since then completed the three phases of our management cycle. From setting up an integrated strategy, identifying related commitments and KPIs and taking a first step towards measuring its carbon footprint, to reporting on this externally.

In this case, we dive into the cinema operator’s sustainability journey, the different steps and challenges that occurred along the way, and how we have collaborated during this journey.

Kinepolis’ sustainability journey over the last years – working towards an integrated sustainability approach

The sustainability journey of Kinepolis can be described as an organic evolution. Trying to act as a responsible corporation has always been evident within Kinepolis, which also means taking the necessary initiatives to reduce its environmental impact and to take care of its employees. With the general public’s expectations on sustainability increasing enormously over the last few years, however, it became pressing to structure Kinepolis’ sustainability efforts and initiatives in a more structured way, with further guidance from the management level.

To develop a strategic framework which could gather those sustainability initiatives, Kinepolis first partnered with us in 2020. Together, we started reflecting about what the concept of sustainability means to Kinepolis, what its purpose is as a company, and which sustainability topics are the most relevant for Kinepolis. These first analyses and reflections resulted in an updated and integrated draft strategic framework based on Kinepolis’ three pillars (best cinema operator, best marketer and best real estate manager) and steered by a newly defined purpose.

In 2021, Kinepolis joined hands with Sustainalize/ERM once again to sharpen the different aspects of the draft strategic framework and set concrete priorities and commitments. As a part of this process, Kinepolis performed a global materiality assessment for which it consulted both internal and external stakeholders, i.e. investors, suppliers, B2C customers, employees, and the management team. The maturity of Kinepolis’ most material topics was assessed and subsequently translated into concrete commitments and KPIs. In addition, Kinepolis set a sub-target to measure its carbon footprint. A step that was completed together with us in 2022.

Enablers in the process

Throughout its sustainability journey, Kinepolis could count on internal support from the company’s CEO and management. Both the CEO and CFO were closely involved from the beginning stages and actively participated in the various organised workshops and interviews. The support from the CEO and management, their belief in the importance of integrating sustainability into the heart of the business, allowed Kinepolis to make rapid progress.

Kinepolis also mentions that, on top of internal support, guidance and expertise from an external player such as Sustainalize/ERM contributed to the successful outcome of these new steps. Well-aware of regulatory evolutions and with a good understanding of best practices in sustainability, we shared our knowledge and expertise with Kinepolis throughout the project, while Kinepolis remained the one who knew the company and its needs best.

Challenges and lessons learned

According to Kinepolis, it tended to remain in a rather ‘defensive’ mode at the beginning of its sustainability journey, focused on reducing or avoiding any negative impact and looking at sustainability mainly from a reporting perspective. Kinepolis wanted to turn that around and embrace sustainability as an opportunity to increase the positive impact it can make as a company on society, adopting a more proactive approach.

The willingness to further integrate and structure sustainability has always been present within Kinepolis. Successfully translating this into concrete action, however, was deemed rather challenging as you cannot work on all fronts or in all locations at the same time and have to set priorities somewhere. Kinepolis points out that giving the right governance to certain sustainability initiatives can be challenging: “At Kinepolis, we are firm believers of a bottom-up approach in everything we do and you want people at all levels in the organization to take ownership. Centralization is necessary to a certain extent, but not always obvious. We are still in the process of finding the right people and resources for this within Kinepolis.”

On top of that, Kinepolis remains a commercial company that had to deal with the economic consequences of the COVID-19 restrictions over the last three years, so there also has to be a return on investment. Striking a balance between shareholder value creation and creating value for Kinepolis’ stakeholders can be challenging, though the company believes that the latter can reinforce the former.

What’s next for Kinepolis?

Two years ago, Kinepolis had a separate approach for sustainability. In two years time, a more integrated way of thinking was established within Kinepolis, with sustainability already being part of the way of working in many departments. The next step is to implement sustainability widely within the organization, giving it the right governance, for example by setting up an overarching committee per material topic.

In the next years, Kinepolis wants to focus not only on further moving towards becoming more circular and improving the energy-efficiency of its cinema infrastructure and buildings, but also on further developing initiatives that guarantee a better customer experience. They want to do this in a way that is responsible, sustainable, and economically viable.

According to Kinepolis, the talent, commitment, and creativity of its employees is the driving force behind its success. Human capital, and more specifically the well-being and development of its employees, is thus undoubtedly Kinepolis’ most important asset towards the future.

Kinepolis said: “We draw motivation to move forward from looking around us and seeing everything that is currently going on in the world. That the urgency has become high is reflected in regulatory developments. Everyone is going to have to do their bit.”

To conclude, Sustainalize is grateful for two enriching years of constructive and pleasant collaboration. We’re proud to have been part of the impressive progress that Kinepolis has made over this period by making sustainability a more integrated part of their corporate strategy.

Services provided
  • Integrated strategy
  • KPI commitments
  • Impact measurement
Experts at work
Zena Klaps

Zena Klaps

Consultant, Sustainalize

Isaline Montariol

Former colleague, Sustainalize

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Kinepolis Sustainalize sustainability

“Sustainalize/ERM supported us during our sustainability journey by creating a sustainability framework, providing more structure in an understandable and accessible way, and providing the right guidance and methodology during workshops and stakeholder consultations. We never got the feeling that a one-size-fits-all approach was taken, Sustainalize/ERM’s approach always remained tailored to Kinepolis and its needs.”

Anneleen Van Troos

Anneleen Van Troos

Corporate communication manager, Kinepolis Group

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