Driving digital transformation and focusing on the road to net zero

Headshot of Stefano Agostini, CEO of Nestle UK & Ireland

Driving digital transformation and focusing on the road to net zero

How Nestlé UK&I CEO Stefano Agostini is delivering growth and sustainability

3 minute read

Stefano Agostini, CEO of Nestlé UK & Ireland, takes a pragmatic view of the current economic turmoil. He is not complacent about the challenges, but nor is he letting them distract him from long-term priorities.

“We have always had challenges and we have always needed to balance long-term strategy and short-term delivery. Those two things go in parallel. It's a matter of making strategic choices and focusing on key priorities. For example, we have chosen to invest significantly in digital innovation, manufacturing, and sustainability.”

“We are a very resilient company,” says Agostini. “Our success is built on maintaining a diversified portfolio, in terms of geography, category and channel. And food and beverages are essential.”

That’s why Agostini says he is aware of the big responsibilities that a company like Nestlé carries, especially during a cost-of-living crisis.

“We take very seriously our role in bringing nutritious, affordable food to people particularly when people are struggling with inflation. This is key for us.”

“That sense of responsibility translates to doing everything Nestlé can to avoid passing additional cost onto the consumer.”

“Some price rises have been unavoidable, but we are absorbing costs and working very hard on increasing efficiencies.”

In the pursuit of new efficiencies, one area Nestlé is increasing its focus is in digital, particularly throughout its supply chain and as it looks to open up new direct-to-consumer (D2C) channels.

The drive towards digital transformation has brought an increased need for tech talent. Agostini admits attracting digital talent can be tough, especially at a time when such sought after skills are in too-short supply. While he acknowledges that tech candidates may not consider Nestlé as the obvious choice when looking at developing their careers, he believes traditional employers have a lot to offer in terms of long-term development, stability, and resilience.

“It's really important we continue to boost our digital skills and capabilities to increase our ecommerce operations. But digital transformation can also have an end-to-end influence in the supply chain, to improve our performance, lower costs and ensure our products are where customers want to consume them. Availability and convenience are a big part of our strategy, and that multichannel approach is very important in meeting customer expectations.”

Agostini says the focus on supply chain transformation and resilience has been accelerated by a confluence of major factors, particularly the war in Ukraine, Brexit and climate change.

The latter is something Agostini says he is personally passionate about addressing.

“The food systems are deeply connected to the planet’s resources. It is imperative to our business and our future that we take the lead and inspire others to help protect, renew, and restore the planetary resources we all depend on. We want to take a regenerative approach with the help of our partners.”

Agostini says Nestlé is committed to reaching net zero by 2050 and halving carbon emissions by 2030.

“As a food manufacturer, almost two-thirds of our greenhouse gas emissions are produced by sourcing the raw materials that make up our products. That’s why we’re working closely with our suppliers and farmers and investing in nature-based solutions.”

In the UK, Nestlé is already certified as using 100% of grid-supplied electricity from renewable sources. This is backed by significant investments including factories fitted with more than 4,000 solar panels, a wind farm in Scotland, hydroelectric generation at its Buxton factory.

Packaging is also a focus.

“Our vision is that none of our packaging ends up in landfill or as litter,” says Agostini. “More than 95% of our plastic packaging will be designed for recycling systems by 2025, and we are committed to achieving 100%. An example is our iconic brand, Quality Street where we’ve replaced cellulose wrappers with recyclable paper.”

Agostini says overseeing such progress, from small but important changes in packaging to working with UK farmers on regenerative agriculture practices, is a part of his role he feels particularly passionate about.

“An important part of my role is ensuring we live our values every day and do what we can to be a great company.”

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Marco Amitrano ACA MCMI ChMC

Marco Amitrano ACA MCMI ChMC

Managing Partner & Head of Clients and Markets, PwC United Kingdom

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