Tesco launched a second-hand car sales website on Sunday, taking a step into a carbon-producing industry just as it increases efforts to encourage its suppliers to be greener so it can reduce its own carbon footprint.
Tescocars.com will see the UK’s biggest retailer working with Sir Trevor Chinn, an industry veteran who last year took a large stake in Carsite, an internet auto sales business.
The site will offer cars freed up from large vehicle fleets and other car-leasing arrangements.
Analysts said consumers had been reluctant to buy cars online from large scale dealers in the past, although Auto Trader, which advertises cars for sale by private drivers and small trade operators, has made a successful conversion from print to digital.
Simon Harris, deputy editor of the magazine Fleet News, said: “Buying a used car online from a trader is a tiny proportion of the number of used car transactions in the UK, so it will be interesting to see whether having a trusted brand such as Tesco attached to it will have an impact.”
He said he thought the new site would have greater impact on car supermarkets than on Autotrader.
Meanwhile, Tesco has said it wants to cut carbon emissions in its global supply chain by 30 percent by 2020.
In the future, carbon reduction will form part of the joint business plan that is agreed with its suppliers. Buyers in some categories are already talking to suppliers about being more sustainable, with trials in canned vegetables, wine and milk.
However, John Scouler, commercial director for packaged foods, beers, wines and spirits, insisted that this was not a way to put pressure on suppliers.
“We have deliberately not set any financial targets against that. It is [about] understanding where the carbon is emitted,” he said.
Richard Brasher, the new chief executive of Tesco’s UK business, last year wrote to 1,200 of Tesco’s top suppliers asking them to reduce the carbon emissions on products that Tesco sells.
Other initiatives to make the supply chain more sustainable include increasing the number of individual products for which Tesco has identified a carbon footprint from 1,100 to 10,000 by 2014.
It will introduce software to help it carry out this expensive and complex process.
Tesco is also expanding a knowledge hub for suppliers – which will contain information to help them be more sustainable, including the carbon footprints – from 45 companies at present to 500 suppliers by March next year.