Dual-listed outdoor equipment retailer Kathmandu has taken its first step in its plans to convert many of its 165 stores to solar-powered.
Kathmandu, which in November completed the A$350 million (NZ$367m) takeover over of Rip Curl, says it took inspiration from the Australian surfing and sportswear retailer, which has solar panels on its Torquay head office and warehouse, and planned to do the same with its own stores as part of its target to be net carbon zero by 2025.
As part of a store refurbishment, Kathmandu has installed solar panels on to the roof of its Blackburn store in Victoria, Australia, it expects the standalone store to be fully solar-powered and operate completely off the grid by the middle of the month.
The panels and solar-battery generator are being installed and are two weeks away from being complete. These will produce the 92,000 kilowatt-hours of energy required to operate the store and offset more than 124 tonnes of carbon emissions.
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While the retailer has not committed to converting any other stores at this stage, Kathmandu brand manager Olivia Barclay told the Herald it intended to have as many of its stores operating off the grid as it could.
"For now this is a pilot, it's a case of testing and learning, but with the intention that we would focus on our standalone stores when we can, and roll it out [wider]," Barclay said.
She said solar conversions throughout its network would occur as refurbishments and lease renewals came up at each store. So far, it had spent A$150,000 (NZ$156,000) to implement the solar energy system in the Blackburn location.
Kathmandu has 30 standalone stores and 65 in shopping malls. The remaining 70 are high street, outlet or city centre stores.
"It's always been on our radar to try to convert standalone stores to solar energy," Barclay said, adding that it was challenging to do the same with stores within shopping centres.
"We're not focusing on mall stores for now, just because it is too complicated.
"When we rent a whole building we also rent the roof space ... so the team are able to quite easily put the solar panels on the roof, as opposed to a mall, because you don't lease the roof and you're one vendor of many."
Kathmandu expects the solar-powered store to lead to significant cost savings and reduce the company's greenhouse gas emissions.
It expects the store to be cost-neutral over the next five to six years.
"By us not having to purchase as much energy we aren't emitting as many greenhouse gases so it is helping us to get to net carbon zero," Barclay said.
"If we had more stores converted to solar panel-powered energy we would have more of a measurable difference to our overall carbon emissions."
In addition to converting stores to solar energy, Kathmandu has converted its rental car fleet to hybrid vehicles, and is moving to make improvements within its supply chain, such as reducing air freight to minimise its effects on the environment.
The company has been measuring its carbon footprint since 2012. In that time it has been working to change its energy systems, and has paid to offset some of its carbon emissions. It has a target to reduce its "scope two emissions" - its energy usage from its stores, offices and distribution centres - by 20 per cent by the end of the year.
Kathmandu has 165 stores across New Zealand and Australia. In the past year it has opened one new store in Sunshine Plaza in Queensland and relocated two stores in Christchurch CBD and Newmarket in New Zealand.