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AN INTERVIEW WITH FRANCOIS-HENRI PINAULT - Chairman and CEO of PPR, Official sponsor of Home

Why did you give your backing to this particular project?

Our planet is in bad shape and we all have a duty to act. As a major player and worldwide business leader, our company must set an example, which is why over more than ten years now PPR has committed to an ethical and environmental approach. When I met Luc Besson and Yann Arthus- Bertrand, it didn't take me long to join their ambitious project—a global project like we are a global company—and involve PPR. It's time to stop whining and start doing, and Yann is a very dynamic guy.
He's an eco-entrepreneur as well as an artist. The aim of Home is demonstrated not only by Yann's magnificent images, but also by the distribution of the film, a huge first in the history of movies and the environment. Thanks to EuropaCorp, Luc Besson's company, Yann's film will receive worldwide distribution free of charge on almost every format. It's that dual objective that persuaded me to join them.

What form does your backing take?

First, it's financial backing—ten million Euros over three years—to ensure almost everyone can see the film free of charge. But above all, it's the support of every branch and brand of the company and the commitment of our 88,000 co-workers to the movie's objective of making as many people as possible aware of the state of our planet. If you add the families and friends of those 88,000 people that makes over 300,000 people that PPR can reach directly.

More generally, what's your approach to sustainable development in the running of your company?

PPR's commitment to environmentally and socially responsible business practice goes back over ten years to 1996 when we introduced our first ethical charter. In 2005, a business code that defines PPR ethical principles was sent out to all our staff. All our brands also develop charity operations that correspond to their sector, through the SolidarCité organization in particular: CFAO in the fight against AIDS, the FNAC to promote literacy, Conforama with the Secours Populaire, Gucci with UNICEF and so on. In 2007, we went even further by creating a Social and Environmental Responsibility division within the company, which reports directly to me. That's unique for a major public company in France and has enabled us to develop ambitious programs in the social and environmental sphere.
Among its seven current missions, there is the respect for the environment in relation to mass transport—which we use a lot—and the reduction of our stores' environmental footprint. And this year we created a companywide foundation whose remit focuses on respect of the dignity and rights of women.

What do you say to those who see a paradox in the environmental impact that is implicit in a company of your size?

There are always good reasons to do nothing. We have a dual role to play as a company: improving our own environmental performance and encouraging awareness in others. We'll be criticized or praised for our support of the movie, but that's a minor issue. What matters is that the film got made and is seen by as many people as possible. Luc, Yann and I share the aim of reaching at least 100 million people across the globe, and more hopefully. I have no regrets about that. If companies like ours don't commit, there's no hope for us. It's a vital responsibility for companies and individuals alike. Any criticism will be secondary, I'll see to that.

What do you hope the public's reaction to the film will be?

Greater awareness, due to the strength of Yann's conviction and emotion provoked by his images. If it's anything like his book The Earth From The Air, public awareness will be significantly boosted in relation to the state of the planet and the necessity of action on an individual and collective level. Basically, the idea is to get people thinking and acting.

 

www.ppr.com