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The Power of Responsibility with Pret A Manger's Perry Kwok

The Mag’s “Power of…” series is a series of interviews that highlight our interviewee’s status as an industry leader. We speak to them about their experience, insight and the “power” of their initiatives in relation to everyday life. In March, we speak to Pret A Manger Hong Kong’s Leasing and Property Manager, Perry Kwok, about the power of responsibility.

Responsibility empowers you to make changes.

It puts you in the mindset that you can take control
of how you want to live. When you accept that you are the only one responsible for your life, rather than letting your circumstances dictate what you do, you create your own reality. My first job was at an auditing firm. A few years in, after receiving my CPA qualification, I realised I wanted more – to take on a business-oriented role rather than just working with figures. It was then that I decided to take control of my career path and moved on to a business development position in the F&B industry, eventually joining Pret A Manger in 2018.

Taking responsibility not only means being accountable for your actions, but it also implies that you care – so you could say it’s a form of self-love when we live as a responsible person. Now, we all have multiple social roles, and with these come different responsibilities. For example, at home, as a husband and father, my responsibility is to provide for my family. I’m happy to do that because I care about them, and I feel so proud and motivated when I get home to their smiling faces every night.
“Every small step in the right direction is progress. ”
At work, my colleagues and I have different duties, but we all share the same goal of creating beautiful, successful stores. As leasing and property manager, I’m in charge of finding suitable locations for new shops, overseeing their construction and maintaining existing ones. I need to make sure these stores are profitable, user-friendly, and designed in a way that reflects our brand identity. My colleagues, on the other hand, take care of the operational, marketing and people sides of things to ensure our business runs smoothly, which is only achievable when we all do our part.

As citizens of the world, we also have the responsibility to protect and improve the community and environment we live in. In the face of so many serious social and environmental issues, however, we may feel powerless as individual efforts don’t seem to amount to much; but I believe in the ripple effect – that small changes can cause a great impact – when it comes to doing good.
Companies should recognise their roles in leading such changes, as they can utilise their influence to trigger positive cultural shifts. This is why we have made “doing the right thing” our company motto ¬– to foster a more responsible culture among staff and customers. Guided by this vision, we’ve set up the Pret Foundation, partly funded by the sale of our products, to help alleviate social issues such as poverty, hunger and homelessness.

In 2020, we continue to work toward our sustainable development goals: developing a transparent supply chain, reducing energy consumption and waste, providing nutritious food and giving back to society. These translate to an array of ongoing initiatives, such as our annual Joy of Pret event for employees, where we partake in volunteering activities like beach clean-ups; new vegan and vegetarian items on our Veggie Pret menu to promote a well-balanced diet; and our partnership with charities like Feeding Hong Kong, Christian Action and Ark Association, who deliver our unsold food to those in need at the end of each day. We also offer a $5 cash rebate on beverages to customers who bring their own reusable cups.

Last November, we opened our very first sustainable concept store in Devon House, Taikoo Place. We’d had a smaller shop here for many years, but when we had the opportunity to move into a bigger space, we decided to incorporate more environmentally friendly features, with support from the recycling facilities here. The biggest difference between this shop and any other in Hong Kong is that we’ve used a lot of sustainable materials. For instance, the back wall and the main counter are made from recycled plastics, while the lounge seats feature Greenguard-certified fabrics. We’re also trialling wooden cutlery here to reduce single-use plastic, which we’re hoping to roll out in all branches eventually.
We make it easy for customers and staff to “do the right thing” at this shop. We’ve installed recycling bins for plastic bottles and aluminium cans, as well as a water station for dine-in guests so they don’t have to purchase bottled water. Inside the kitchen, we collect food waste and coffee grounds, which we bring to the composter downstairs at The Loop. These are small efforts, and we can certainly do a lot more in the future, but every small step in the right direction is progress.

Creating this shop was an unprecedented step for us,
and it pays off despite the challenges related to design, material sourcing, logistics and cost – it’s naturally more expensive to build such a store, so how do we justify that? We probably can’t, if you only look at it from the profit perspective. But we believe sustainability is worth the investment because it’s core to our values. This is our first sustainable shop in Hong Kong, but it certainly won’t be our last. Like the first ripple in the water, we hope this will inspire more people to do what’s right for themselves, for others, and for the world.

Self-care is the first step to taking responsibility for yourself – read all about the power of wellness with Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group’s Jeremy McCarthy.

Do you work at Taikoo Place and want to be featured in The Power Series? Get in touch.
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