LARRY'S ADOPTING GREEN REPORT CARDS

SEATTLE -- Larry's Markets here is developing a new computer-based reporting system designed to help store managers better understand how environmental issues affect their store's bottom line.The store-specific reports, which managers will eventually receive on a monthly basis, will be made available starting next month. Using a graphical format, the reports present current and past store performance

SEATTLE -- Larry's Markets here is developing a new computer-based reporting system designed to help store managers better understand how environmental issues affect their store's bottom line.

The store-specific reports, which managers will eventually receive on a monthly basis, will be made available starting next month. Using a graphical format, the reports present current and past store performance in the areas of utility costs and recycling.

The retailer hopes store managers will take more initiative to improve their stores' environmental performance by using the easy-to-read monthly updates. Managers now often rely on infrequent contact with corporate-level environmental staff before taking any action.

Environmental information "now comes to managers in bits and pieces," said Brant Rogers, manager of environmental affairs. "The time is right to consolidate them into one report that store managers can use to communicate to their employees directly."

Larry's will send out the first report at the end of its fiscal year late next month. The reports will be distributed quarterly at first, but the retailer hopes to make them available each month by mid-1996.

The reports will show managers how their stores are performing in terms of conserving energy and maximizing recycling opportunities, Rogers said. The analysis tool will make clear where improvements need to be made.

For instance, the initial report will present a "history of what has happened in their particular store in the last four years up to the end of October," he said. "It will tell exactly what their use of energy and water was, and their recycling rate and composting rate. It will have notes on inspections that have been done at the store, and list environmental promotions coming up."

The key is to show store managers in concrete data how an increase in environmental performance often means a greater bottom-line savings, Rogers said.

"It's profitability," he added. "Very seldom do reports break out the actual costs and the actual profits that are associated with these [environmental] programs.

"We're showing that every aspect of business, in tons recycled or kilowatt hours or thousands of bags used, has an impact on the environment," Rogers said.

"This is a more conscious, deliberate expression of what environmental savings are," he added.

For example, a sample report shows a number of charts that illustrate the percentages of store by-products recycled since 1991. The manager is told that "your recycling tonnage has been in a slump for over a year -- this is costly to your store.

"The value for recycling is very high," the report adds. "Each ton is over a $100 savings to the store."

"It's very friendly and very tailored to that particular store," Rogers said. "It's very quantitative and visual. Managers often just want to see the trends. Some numbers are there, but we don't want to confuse the issue."

Though Larry's environmental staff initially will key in all data for the reports manually, the potential exists for data like electrical and natural gas rates to one day be automatically downloaded into the spreadsheet program, he added.

"Basically, this is a form of internal management accounting," Rogers said.