Christine Hope, one of our seven expert retailer columnists, asks how you can find the hidden values of retail.

Your accountant vs. your community – I’m looking for retailers’ help to measure the hidden values of retail.

Your customers tell you things like “You are so much more than a shop”, or “I couldn’t manage without you”, and “I brought my friends here to see our shop”. While these are very nice comments, what do they mean?

[pull_quote_center]This has been something I have wanted to record in our business for a very long time – to somehow measure the social and environmental impact of our business.[/pull_quote_center]

I went to a lecture last month on sustainability and economics and found out that the terminology for this process is known as ‘Triple Bottom Line’.

Triple Bottom Line is an accounting framework that incorporates three dimensions of performance: social, environmental and financial. This differs from traditional reporting frameworks as it includes environmental and social factors that can be difficult to measure.

Many organisations have adopted the framework to evaluate their performance in a broader context.

Triple Bottom Line is a numbers game and I think it should be how all financial reporting should be done. There is just one snag. While the concept has been around for more than a decade, there are no internationally agreed terms on how to approach or measure the process, what to include or not to include.

For example, if you sold fresh fruit and vegetables would you gain points for improved community health? If you sold alcohol would you gain points for enjoyment? And perhaps organic cider would gain you points due to its production methods, but lose you points because of anti-social behaviour caused by excessive enjoyment of any alcohol product?

So I need your help. Has anyone tried to value the hidden assets of their business and how they operate?  Do you report it back to your business partners/shareholders/community/customers? Could retailers lead the way?

Christine Hope, Hopes of Longtown, Hereford