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Our Corporate Sustainability Report - 2019

Xavier Martiré

Elis’ multi-service model is a perfect fit for the new economy.

Xavier Martiré Chairman of the Management Board

From the CEO


Acting as a responsible company has long been fully integrated as part of Elis’ business model and is fundamental to who we are, reflected in our values of respect, integrity, responsibility and exemplarity. In recent years, we have taken steps to formalize our approach to CSR, setting targets and establishing performance measures. This report is a natural outgrowth of that process. We believe that communicating with our stakeholders on our ambitions, our progress and the steps we are taking to further improve our CSR performance is part of being a responsible company.

Pillars of Strength

At the heart of our CSR strategy are three complementary focus areas: responsible products and services, our environmental footprint and employee well-being and growth. Each of these “pillars” is discussed in a chapter of the report, including examples of actions we are taking around the world. In certain areas where we have wellestablish metrics and measuring processes, we have set specific and ambitious numerical targets. Improving our use of water, thermal energy and laundry products is one example. In some cases, where we have already achieved our original targets, such as energy consumption, we have established new objectives. Even in areas where we have yet to establish a specific numerical goal, we have provided figures that demonstrate our commitment to continuous improvement.

Full Circle

For Elis, CSR is not a distinct program that runs parallel to the rest of the company; CSR is inseparable from our daily operations and to Elis’ development and strategy. This reflects the fact that our business exemplifies the notion of a “circular economy,” in which the take-make-dispose model of production is replaced by a system that minimizes waste and maximizes the value of resources. Elis’ multi-service model is a perfect fit for the new economy. By encouraging maintenance, reuse and recycling, Elis’ multi-service rental, laundry and maintenance model strikes a balance between economic growth and environmental performance. At the same time, we fully engage our employees, ensuring a positive workplace environment in which diversity is promoted and ethics and integrity instilled in all we do. Our CSR approach thus enables us to generate sustained growth, simplify the lives of our 400,000 customers, preserve the environment and natural resources and provide a positive workplace in which our employees can thrive and grow. We believe it is a model built for the future.


For the fifth time, Elis was awarded the Ecovadis gold medal for its CSR performance

Elis gets Gold 2019 ecovadis CSR rating

Underscoring Elis’s CSR policy

The circular economy is central to Elis’s development and is reflected in its rental, laundry and maintenance model. In 2019, Elis went even further by underscoring its social commitment through the three pillars of its CSR policy: managing its social impact, continuously reducing the environmental footprint of its business, and being a vehicle for the personal development and well-being of its employees.

Highlights: 2019

  • icon_industries

    Opening of five new plants

    The new plants that opened in 2019 in Clisson (France), Southampton (UK), Dartford (UK), San Francisco de Mostazal (Chile) and Holbæk (Denmark) have been designed to eventually enable Elis to achieve water and energy consumption levels 20% and 30% below the Group’s benchmark averages.

  • Cleanroom

    Launch of Elis Pest Control and Elis Cleanroom

    Since its establishment in 2012, Elis’s pest control business has continued to expand. This comprehensive service guarantees customers optimal protection of their facilities. Galvanized by its success, Elis launched an international Elis Pest Control sister brand at the end of the first quarter of 2019, underscoring its determination to continue to develop this business in Europe. In the meantime, Elis has solidified its leadership in this market with the launch of Elis Cleanroom. The service is aimed at companies requiring a controlled environment and contamination control (e.g., pharmaceuticals, microelectronics and life sciences) and was created from five of the sector’s legacy brands: Elis, Berendsen, SNDI, Micronclean NL and decontam, which are now grouped under a single name.

  • Fairtrade

    10 years agreement between Elis and the label Fairtrade/Max Havelaar France

    To promote fair trade, Elis signed a license agreement with Max Havelaar France in 2009, becoming the first flat linen, workwear and hygiene and well-being appliances rental and maintenance services company with the Fairtrade Max Havelaar license. Elis has developed ranges of linen and workwear from organic and fair-trade cotton. The Fairtrade standards guarantee a minimum income for producers based on a fair purchase price, irrespective of market fluctuations, as well as respect of fundamental human rights. The Fairtrade Max Havelaar standard encourages producer organizations to progressively adopt democratic structures and transparent administration to enable members to have real control over the organization’s management.

  • Cradle to Cradle certification

    The Fusion range for Washroom is Bronze Cradle to Cradle certified!

    Cradle to cradle strives to recycle raw materials from the production process. According to this philosophy, any material used in the product should be recycled into a new product or recycled by being returned to nature at the end of its product life.

More than 135 years of innovating and staying close to our customers

  • Elis history

    1883: Origins

    Elis’s roots date back to 1883, when the Leducq family founded the Grandes Blanchisseries de Patin. Within a few years, the company’s horsedrawn carriages where crisscrossing the entire east-side of Paris, delivering clean linen to restaurants, luxury hotels, public bathhouses and laundries.

  • old elis van

    1945: Early years

    At the end of the war, Jean Leducq was sent by his father to revive the Rouen plant, 130 km northwest of Paris. Soon after his arrival, the U.S.
    army placed an order to launder 50 tons of linen per week. Teams were mobilized and one month later the plant was laundering 80 tons a week! In the 1950s, Elis invented and developed the rental and laundry model.

  • old Elis vans

    1968: Creation of Elis

    In 1968, almost a century after the launch of the family’s business, Jean Leducq decided to bring all of its activities together under a single Group.
    The new structure was named Elis, short for Europe Linge Service (Europe Linen Service). The same year, Elis launched its first sanitary products, including the cotton towel roll.

  • Elis european expansion in the 1970s

    1970s: European expansion

    The Group’s European expansion began in 1973 with the acquisition of the Belgian company Hadès and the Group’s entry into Spain. These
    moves were followed by expansion into Portugal and Germany between 1987 and 1990, Luxembourg in 1994, Italy in 1999 and Switzerland and the Czech Republic in 2001.

  • Elis personal protective equipment

    1980s-1990s: Services diversification

    In 1993, Elis developed its first personal protective equipment (PPE). In the late 1990s, the Group further diversified its activities with an extension into water coolers and espresso machines. In 2001, Elis became the European leader in Cleanroom services following the acquisition of a cleaning and disinfecting company in France.

  • Elis pest control and disinfection

    2013: Launch of a new service

    Pest control and disinfection

  • Elis in Brazil

    2014: Elis in Brazil

    Building on its expansion in Europe, Elis acquired Atmosfera, the leading industrial laundry group in Brazil, followed later that same year with the acquisitions of L’Acqua and SC Lavanderia.

  • Elis stock market listing

    Start of 2015: Stock market listing

    Elis was listed on the Euronext stock market in Paris through an initial public offering.

  • Chile

    Elis enters Chile

    Elis continued its growth strategy in Latin America with the acquisition of Albia, the market leader in Chile.

  • Spain

    2016: Elis continued to expand

    Elis made the acquisition of Indusal in Spain and also entered the market in Colombia through the acquisition of SIL.

  • Elis

    2017: Elis becomes the pan European leader

    With the acquisition of Berendsen, Elis added operations in 14 countries and 15,000 employees.

  • we empower your day

    2018-2019: Major acquisitions in several European countries

    Adoption of a new Elis tagline: “We empower your day.”

A virtuous circle growth model

Based on the use economy, Elis’ model underlines service rather than a product and rental over purchase. Our ambition: propose a responsible, quality offer, that reduces pressure on natural resources and the environment

Elis's virtuous circle growth model

The circular economy at the heart of our development

Elis’ business model is fully consistent with the principles of a “circular economy.” This concept redefines traditional models of business growth to focus more broadly on positive society-wide benefits. By selling the use of products rather than their ownership, Elis is able to offer customers high-quality products and services with better cost control and improved environmental outcomes.

Focus on textiles

The most commonly used materials within Elis are textiles. To maximize their life, the Group has a monitoring system in place to track indicators related to fabric management, ensure optimal use of current inventories and manage purchases of new linen. By standardizing textile items, Elis is able to reuse approved textiles that become available, prolonging their life span. This might occur, for example, as a result of a change in packaging by a customer.

The life cycle of Elis products

By the time our customer receives a product from Elis, it has already passed through many hands and steps. The product life cycle takes shape at the design stage where we consider its suitability for re-use, repair or recycling. The product developed by the supplier is subject to Elis quality control and track through logistics systems that enable automated, high-volume operations with a high inventory turnover. The Group is also continuing to strengthen its central purchasing operations and to implement IT purchasing tools, enabling it to monitor the supply chain from source to delivery and the movement of a product within our processes to the time it leaves our cycle.

The sustainability benefits of Elis’ approach

To address the life cycle of its products and the well-being of stakeholders, Elis has renewed its focus on eco-design and sustainability initiatives. In contrast to traditional modes of consumption that encourage disposable products or planned obsolescence, the Group’s business model puts less pressure on natural resources and the environment. This model can be seen in other sectors, such as car rental services in urban settings. This approach also extends product life by maximizing their use and promoting their repair, reuse and recycling. For us, the circular economy is about decisionmaking: making sure our decisions support our vision on quality, value, cost and sustainability. Our latest CSR policy and goals underline our determination to challenge the business sustainability of both our own operations each day and those of our suppliers.

Reusable versus disposable

Recovery and recycling is an integral part of all textile service operations. In the laundries, water and energy are recovered and reused, when possible. Transport equipment such as trolleys, boxes and sacks are maintained, cleaned and reused. When textiles no longer meet quality criteria, the materials are typically recycled into new products.

Home versus industrial laundry

The societal benefits provided through Elis’ business activities include protection of health, as underlined through a recent study on the hygiene risks of washing at home: “Washing professional clothing and textiles at home may seem like a simple and obvious solution. Whether for workwear, chefs wear, elderly care facilities, linen, bedding or towels. However, this comes with an undefinable level of risk. The difference between “clean”, “hygienically clean” and “disinfected” are often overlooked. Research shows that consumers’ knowledge of hygiene when washing textiles at home is limited. As long as nothing serious happens, everybody seems to be on the safe side. In reality, however, scientific publications indicate that textiles can be a vector for infective agents. Ignoring this could lead to severe problems and even death in certain vulnerable cases. In reality, hand hygiene, surface and textile disinfection as well as hygiene monitoring and quality control systems are key factors for hygiene. In fact, even when special efforts are made to monitor and control hygiene for hygienesensitive environments, textiles are often neglected and left out of the picture… Professional textile services use validated hygiene quality and control management systems to ensure textile disinfection. This highly controlled environment cannot be reproduced at home!” 

CSR policy

Elis’ CSR policy is part of a global vision for our company that encompasses our development and strategy. It is based on ensuring the satisfaction of our customers, our ability to conquer new territories and markets, and our ability to generate continuous sustainable growth empowered by the circular economy. Elis is committed to providing a workplace that respects human rights and promotes diversity while protecting the environment. We want to set an example of integrity, being honest in our everyday business, taking responsibility for our decisions and taking into account how they impact our stakeholders.

We are committed to 360° responsibility based on three pillars:

Our experience, our employees’ pride in the company, our values and the trust of our shareholders are key to achieving these objectives in the pursuit
of the sustainable development of our business. The involvement of all stakeholders at every level throughout the Group is necessary for this approach to be successful and ensure the full satisfaction of our customers.

  • Taking responsibility for our impact on society through responsible products and services

    • Ensuring that our products are produced in a manner that respects people and the planet
    • Respecting the Elis Code of Ethics throughout the value chain, across all functions and countries where we operate
    • Empowering the next generation through educational support
  • Continuously reducing our environmental footprint

    • Promoting sustainable decision-making by reducing, reusing, repurposing or recycling materials and products
    • Increasing the value of our products by improving their resource-efficient design, lifespan and end-of-life use
    • Improving our direct and indirect environmental impact and lowering our greenhouse gas emissions caused by our activities
  • Empowering our employees’ well-being and growth

    • Working together to ensure our employees’ well-being and safety
    • Enabling each other to grow both personally and professionally
    • Promoting diversity and equal opportunity

Taking responsibility for our impact on society through responsible products and services

As an international company committed to sustainability and responsibility, Elis seeks to extend the impact of its actions throughout its eco-system. Whether partnering with suppliers to ensure adherence with its CSR policies, conducting audits to check compliance with the Group’s code of Ethics or opening doors for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, Elis’ actions reflect the values that its seeks to live and reinforce through its daily actions.

  • Cotton Icon

    Ensuring product sustainability

    At Elis, product quality is a constant priority. To ensure that our products are produced in a manner consistent with our sustainability principles, we maintain a constant focus on different topics: purchases of textile products, taking care of human health and safety, protecting our planet.

  • Group Picto Consolidate Position

    Respecting the Elis Code of Ethics throughout the value chain, across all functions and countries where we operate

    Elis’ commitments to sustainable development and ethics are reflected in documents that describe its commitments and expectations
    with regard to its suppliers and employees. The Code of Conduct sets out Elis’s commitments in terms of purchasing as well as its requirements and recommendations for suppliers and subcontractors. The Elis Code of Ethics makes clear the behavioural rules that apply to all Elis employees

  • Responsability Icon

    Empowering the next generation through educational support

    The Elis Foundation was created at the end of 2018 to promote equal opportunity while rewarding excellence. With this in mind, the Foundation decided to start its action by supporting deserving French high school graduates whose financial situations preclude them from realizing their ambitions. The Foundation provides scholarships to help these students pursue higher education. In addition, the Foundation matches each recipient with an Elis employee, who acts as a mentor and helps and encourages the student and provides advice during their studies.

Our global and sustainable value chain

Elis countries

Elis countries and our ‘direct’ supplier countries

Continuously reducing our environmental footprint

Elis set ambitious goals to improve its environmental performance. First, in France, a 25% improvement in use ratios for water, thermal energy and laundry products by 2020 compared to 2010. The Group has already surpassed its goal for water and is continuing to progress in the other areas. New goals have
been set at the beginning of 2020 for 2025 on all areas of the CSR policy.

  • Recycling Icon

    Promoting sustainability: reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle

    Elis’ commitment to sustainability begins with its rental and maintenance service business model, which allows customers to avoid purchasing the products they use. Throughout our activities, we seek ways to reduce pressure on natural resources and the environment by promoting reuse, repurposing and recycling.

  • Present icon

    Eco-improving product value

    Under Elis’ product-service business model, customers use products rather than owning them (see “Business model 360°” on page 16). This model
    drives Elis to design products that maximize sustainable service, find alternatives to disposable products and increase customer awareness
    of the environmental advantages of Elis’ approach.

  • Water Icon

    Reducing our environmental impact

    Through its environmental strategy, Elis works to guarantee the quality of its laundry service while minimizing use of water, energy, fuel and laundry products. The Group monitors its environmental impacts, implements prevention and reduction measures and explores new solutions for its water and energy use.

Empowering our employees’ well-being and growth

The professionalism and commitment of our employees is key to our performance. Elis seeks to unite and engage employees within a strong brand culture, built around values, expertise and a determination to constantly improve performance. The Group’s commitments described in this part of the report reflect the priorities of employee wellbeing, safety and career development, and the promotion of diversity and equal opportunity.

  • Picto_customer needs

    Ensuring our employees’ well-being and safety

    Elis believes that the safety and well-being of our employees is a core company responsibility. In addition to our rigorous policies and training programs to protect the health and safety of our people, we take time to listen to what they have to say about their workplace and working conditions and take action to address identified areas of improvement.

  • icon_spread_network

    Enabling personal and professional growth

    Elis is committed to providing a professional work environment in which all of its employees can develop, advance and succeed in their job. The company fosters a culture of trust, recognizes outstanding performance and provides training and development opportunities to enable employees to grow with Elis.

  • growth

    Promoting diversity and equal opportunity

    Elis seeks to foster a culture of diversity and inclusion, ensuring that each employee can develop and grow without being subjected to discrimination, including on the basis of gender, religion, origin, age, sexual orientation, physical appearance, health status, disability or political beliefs. Elis is committed to highlighting the benefits of diversity and how different knowledge and viewpoints contribute to building synergies and stimulating innovation.

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