D'Ieteren Auto

Description of the activities

As part of its 70-year old relationship with the Volkswagen Group, D’Ieteren Auto imports and distributes the vehicles of Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, Škoda, Bentley, Lamborghini, Bugatti and Porsche across Belgium, along with the brands’ respective spare parts and accessories.

It is the country’s number one vehicle distributor, with a market share of around 21% and 1.2 million vehicles on the road. D’Ieteren Auto manages a strong network of independent dealers across the country and corporately owns about 20 locations, mainly on the Brussels-Mechelen-Antwerp axis.

Besides distributing vehicles in Belgium, D’Ieteren Auto provides after-sales services through its Corporate-owned operations. These include bodywork, maintenance and repair, glass repair and tyre replacement. It also sells used vehicles through My Way centres and My Way Authorized Distributors. In addition, D’Ieteren Auto provides car financing and long-term car rental services through a joint venture between D’Ieteren and Volkswagen Financial Services. Finally, it distributes the products of Yamaha in Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg through D’Ieteren Sport.

D’Ieteren Auto’s business model is currently evolving towards supporting citizens’ social life through a more fluid, accessible and comfortable mobility. The company is focussing strongly on promoting responsible mobility, mainly through the initiatives of its recently-launched subsidiary, LabBox (see section 2.2.2 – Innovation below).

1. Material environmental and social aspects

Climate impact/CO2 emissions

D’Ieteren Auto is aware that its distribution of polluting combustion vehicles and the carbon emissions of its own activities have an impact on climate.

It will first reduce its climate impact by expanding its clean car offer. In this respect, the Volkswagen Group aims for 25% of the cars sold by the Company to be electric by 2025.

D’Ieteren Auto is also striving to self-produce 45% of its electricity needs across all sites by 2018, along with lowering its energy consumption by 20% compared to 2006. Investment is being directed into the production of D’Ieteren Auto’s own renewable energy by using solar photovoltaic panels. As a result, and thanks to the positive contribution of cogeneration systems based in D’Ieteren Auto’s main buildings, a record 43% of the company’s energy needs were self-produced energy at the end of 2017.

D’Ieteren Auto has been calculating the CO2 impact of its activity since 2009. The carbon footprint is measured on an annual basis with the support of an external specialised climate consultancy firm. The data is compiled following the Bilan Carbone, which in turn is aligned with the GHG Protocol and the GRI Standards. In 2017, D’Ieteren Auto’s carbon footprint represented 20,077 tons of CO2 or 12 tons of CO2 per FTE.

Furthermore, the company is looking to cut CO2 emissions by raising awareness amongst its employees, promoting working from home, environmental-friendly driving habits, multimodal solutions such as combining public transport and company cars, cycling or car-pooling with a parking space guaranteed. In 2017, an online car-pooling platform was set up for employees in different operating sites. D’Ieteren Auto also organises a daily shuttle service for its employees connecting its sites to main train stations in the vicinity.

A land-use policy has also been developed to create green corridors across several operating sites. Green corridors aim to enhance biodiversity by planting local plants and trees that attract bees and small-sized local wildlife. These corridors do not require any upkeep and, on top of their positive ecological impact, allow for the temporary collection of rainwater.

Waste management

In the context of D’Ieteren Auto’s activities, waste management entails the recycling of used vehicles and the monitoring of other waste arising from the day-to-day activities.

In accordance with Belgian legislation, D’Ieteren Auto facilitates the recycling of used vehicles for customers and non-customers alike. In addition to the legal allowances received from the recycling company, D’Ieteren dealers offer an extra-allowance to used vehicle owners that return their vehicle for recycling.

D’Ieteren Auto is also actively promoting the sorting and collection of the waste generated in its offices, workshops, stores and garages, as well as the storage of harmful materials. In 2017, more than 75% of the Company’s waste was recycled. 

Innovation

Three trends are shaping the car of the future, all of them being the result of technological advances: the electrification of cars, developments in connectivity and automation, and the transformation of the car into a smart, multi-use mobile tool. In parallel with these technological advances, a number of societal and economic trends are converging to transform the concept of mobility. These include restrictions on the number of private cars, a narrowing of road lanes, the introduction of new forms of taxation based on usage and above all, the shift towards a sharing economy. D’Ieteren Auto is therefore striving to innovate in these fields in order to be at the forefront of tomorrow’s mobility market.

At the end of 2016, a business unit was created to explore, analyse and develop flexible and innovative services relating to mobility. In 2017, this business became a subsidiary called Lab Box. In January 2018, it officially launched Poppy, a car-sharing service for low- and zero-emission(s) vehicles based in Antwerp. Other initiatives are currently being tested and developed with a special focus on intermodality and MaaS platforms (for “Mobility as a Service”). In March 2017, D’Ieteren Auto signed the Green Deal Gedeelde Mobiliteit, which aims to increase shared mobility in Flanders. The Flemish government, along with 76 other partners, is supporting this initiative. Its objectives for 2020 are to increase the number of car-sharing vehicles from 28,000 to 80,000, the number of bicycles from 196,000 to 400,000 and to double the number of car-pooling commuters.                            

Sustainable procurement

Cars account for the bulk of D’Ieteren’s purchasing costs. Over the years, D’Ieteren Auto has built a solid partnership with Volkswagen. Wholesale agreements have been formalized and are revised periodically.

Wherever possible, D’Ieteren Auto also manages its indirect spending (for operations) through contractual relationships. For all the contracts that are negotiated centrally by its Procurement Department (including consequent purchases such as electricity), suppliers must sign the procurement charter drafted by the company. In doing so, they commit to respecting the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact during their commercial relationship with D’Ieteren Auto. 

More pro-actively, D’Ieteren Auto now has a more responsible supply chain strategy. On top of the usual quality/price criteria and financial stability of the supplier, social, environmental and ethical criteria are also considered when selecting suppliers.

Preferential criteria promote suppliers that:

  • are local companies
  • have been certified using environmental and social measurement and data management systems (for instance ISO 14001, SA8000, OHSAS 18001, …)
  • have adopted an ethical charter
  • belong to a network of responsible businesses
  • demonstrate a proactive policy in terms of environmental protection and social engagement.

Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is highly important for D’Ieteren Auto, which aims to remain the provider of choice for all of its clients. To this end, an external partner conducts a survey called ‘Customer Experience Management’ on a yearly basis. On the model of the Net Promoter Score (NPS), clients are asked whether they would recommend D’Ieteren Auto’s services to their friends. In 2017, the score reached 92.3% for sales and 88.3% for after-sales.

Employee development

D’Ieteren Auto aims to retain and attract the best talent. In order to strike the right balance between employees’ career aspirations and the company’s needs, the human resources department developed the ‘CaReer Model’. The CaReer Model provides a clear vision of the different career opportunities available at D’Ieteren Auto and allows employees and their supervisors to openly discuss employees’ skills and development needs. As a result, they can together devise a personal development plan that is relevant to each employee and allows him or her to progress within the organisation.

D’Ieteren Auto places the training and qualifications of its employees and future recruits at the heart of its development strategy. In 2017, the Company’s employees benefited from 39,605 hours of technical and/or behavioural training, which represents an average of around 24 hours training per employee, or 3 days of training per person. The personal and professional development of employees is encouraged through appraisals and coaching sessions conducted by managers throughout the year. Managers are also given support and assessed on their leadership abilities.

Employee safety

Guaranteeing the health and safety of employees in the workplace is of crucial importance to D’Ieteren Auto due to the nature of a business that deals with car maintenance, machinery, and chemical products. In terms of safety in the workplace, there is a zero-tolerance policy regarding breaches of safety standards. D’Ieteren Auto aims to get as close as possible to the zero-incident level, though it recognises that eliminating risk altogether is impossible. Workers in maintenance workshops carry out risk assessments, make inventories of protection and intervention measures and conduct workshops on fire prevention and safety, etc. This has led to a significant reduction in the severity of workplace accidents. In 2017, there was also a significant reduction in the number of work accidents leading to temporary work incapacity (43 compared to 50 in 2016) and in the number of lost workdays (776 compared to 2,085 in 2016).

Employee satisfaction

D’Ieteren Auto carries out satisfaction surveys with all of its employees in order to determine ways to improve worker motivation and wellbeing. The latest survey, completed in 2016, showed an overall satisfaction rate of 74.5%. Subsequently, the Human Resources department has taken various initiatives to respond to the wishes of its employees, amongst which the new CaReer Model and an overhaul of the pay structure.

D’Ieteren Auto’s efficiency relies on its employees and on their engagement to achieve both an improvement in personal and collective performances. As such, the company wants to offer its employees a safe, fulfilling, balanced and learning-friendly environment where wellbeing is a priority. Homeworking is increasingly encouraged, supported by a communication campaign entitled “Ho.ffice, another way to be @ work”, launched in 2018. This campaign aims to define a precise framework for the ideal homeworking conditions and facilitate its access to all employees.

In 2017, training sessions were held to prevent burn-out in the workplace and ensure that employees are able to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Over the year, employees attended a total of 2,327 training hours.

Community engagement

D’Ieteren Auto’s ‘Give & Gain’ philanthropy policy aims to support charities connected to its work, in areas where the company can bring real added value. It also aims to encourage employees to take part in solidarity initiatives. There are three types of activity undertaken within this framework:

  • volunteering activities offer employees the chance to form a team that dedicates a work day to charitable projects. 200 employees on average volunteer each year in aid of around 15 charities.
  • the annual call for projects aims to provide one-off financial assistance to non-profit organisations, in response to requests from company employees who seek to finance a project that promotes socially-responsible mobility.
  • long-term programmes that invest in larger-scale social projects that have the potential to drive positive change closely linked to socially-responsible mobility e.g. road safety awareness sessions in schools in deprived neighbourhoods (which have raised awareness among 700 young people since 2015), and the ‘License to Work’ programme, a social driving school that helps disadvantaged people to obtain a driving licence in order to increase their chances of finding a job. Finally, D’Ieteren Auto has completed a study aimed at improving its understanding of how to encourage socially-progressive and inclusive mobility (study available on http://giveandgain.dieteren.com/)

2. Respect for Human Rights

D’Ieteren Auto operates only in Belgium and complies with a strict social/legal framework that addresses areas like working conditions, health and safety requirements and collective bargaining regulations. 

It invests in employee safety, development and satisfaction (see appropriate sections above).

As a preventive measure, D’Ieteren Auto requires all of its suppliers to adhere to its Procurement Charter, which implements the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact (see section on Sustainable procurement above).

3. Anti-corruption and bribery matters

The Company’s Code of ethics – “The Way We Work” – makes it clear that all employees must respect anti-corruption and anti-bribery laws. Corruption, attempted corruption, fraud and money-laundering are not tolerated and constitute a real risk to both the employee and the Company. A new version of D’Ieteren Auto’s Code of ethics will be released in 2018.