Jochen Zeitz has had a busy year. I recently caught up with the long-serving Chairman and CEO of PUMA, the sports gear company where Zeitz blended an evangelical commitment to sustainability with smart branding to return the nearly defunct brand to the top tier of global sports fashion.
As a business story, Zeitz's success is nearly legendary: he pulled PUMA out of the basement and up to a podium position in the global sportswear market, while boosting share price by 4,000 percent.
Among sustainability watchers, Zeitz has won plaudits for his commitment to develop an environmental profit and loss (EP&L) statement. By estimating a dollar figure on the value of its use of ecosystem services -- any resource provided by nature, from clean water, to crop production, wildlife habitat, storm surge protection and so on -- PUMA is expanding on the precedent set by carbon footprinting efforts and other self-assessment techniques.
The tool can identify where in its supply chain these costs are highest, and help PUMA develop responses to address these hot spots.
The first results of PUMA's effort were unveiled last May, when PUMA announced a price tag of $133 million for its toll from water use and greenhouse gas emissions.
As the company outsources the bulk of its manufacturing, it follows that PUMA's direct operations accounted for about only $10 million of this total. Its supply chain made up the balance. By impact, greenhouse gases (GHGs) and water were split evenly. The top culprits: Cotton farming, cattle ranching for leather, and rubber production accounted for more than half of water use, and about a third of GHG emissions.
Shortly before PUMA released these landmark results, Zeitz revealed he was moving up at PUMA's parent company. In March, after 18 years of service Zeitz passed the mantle on to a 32-year-old successor, Franz Koch. Notably, Zeitz was even younger -- just 30 in 1993 -- when he took over PUMA's top spot. The move made him the youngest-ever corporate chairman of a listed German company.
Now 48, Zeitz's new post will let him focus on sustainability more broadly. Zeitz's new joint role at PUMA's owner, PPR SA, straddles two titles: He is both chief sustainability officer as well as head of the company's sport & lifestyle group. PPR, a $19.4-billion apparel empire, includes a variety of luxury fashion brands such as Bottega, Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent.
Next page: The future of PUMA's environmental reporting projects