• HORNBACH - LIES ON SHELVES

    An investigation by de-clic.ro
    Written by: Radu Cernuta

    With contributions from: Alex Găvan, Raluca Veștemeanu

  • THE INVESTIGATION

    4 months after Hornbach's press release [3], their stores around the country are still full of wood products from Schweighofer. More and more members of de-clic community have signalled this and have sent us photos by e-mail, so we decided to investigate these charges. We checked each of the six Hornbach stores in the country.

     

    We pretended to be clients who need a lot of wood of all assortments. We conceived several scenarios about the panelling of some attics or building some stables and offices for a manège. These allowed us to enquire about all Schweighofer products available in the store, including construction wood and planed wood assortments which they had said they would give up. We said we had no place to store it and we would like to buy it progressively, along a certain period of time.​

    Results were as expected. Hornbach employees assured us they constantly source wood from Schweighofer, including beams or timber, products falling under construction wood or planed wood categories - which Hornbach declared they no longer purchased.

     

    NOTE: The Hornbach employees we spoke to during this investigations did their job the best they could. We do not want them to suffer just because they were put in an impossible situation by the company management decisions.

  • STORED ON 26.04

    We collaborated in our investigation with Alex Găvan, leading Romanian high altitude climber and environmentalist. In one of the Hornbach stores in Bucharest Alex found whole packages of construction wood packaged with the Holzindustrie Schweighofer logo and the label “stored on 26 April”.

    - Are these left in stock? Alex asked.
    - No, they were brought this year, said the Hornbach employee
    - No, but I was asking… if I want to take a bigger quantity... How often do you bring them?
    - Depending on sales. If they sell well I bring them even daily or weekly, if necessary.

  • To bear the name Hornbach

    Alex Găvan told us why he chose to get involved in this investigation:

    To bear the name Schweighofer and to be proud of having your "origins in an Austrian family business "with more than 400 years’ experience in wood processing industry”. To bear the name Schweighofer and, following an investigation undercover [4] done by Environmental Investigation Agency for two years, to become exposed and to have it become known that "Schweighofer has been the single biggest driver of illegal logging in the country over the past decade." To bear the name Schweighofer and, within the same investigation, one of your top managers to be filmed with a hidden camera​ [5] encouraging and promising rewards for illegally logged wood. To bear the name Schweighofer, to lose your Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification because of failing to meet sustainability standards and at the same time to see FSC publicly disassociate from you.​ [6]. That is, the abomination you commit comes to light. Your noose tightens.

    Then, to bear the name Hornbach and to be "the only construction and gardening company that can take pride in a history of 5 generations". To bear the name Hornbach and to say that "responsible forestry has been for many years among the basic principles of the company" and that, at the same time, "it is important to us that our suppliers and business partners respect the principles of responsible forestry" [3]. Hats off. To bear the name Hornbach and to declare that "the company ensures that all wood materials and wooden products originate from sustainable forestry" [3]. Tradition, pride, principles, responsibility, sustainability. That's it, they’re Germans, bro.

    To bear the name Hornbach and to state publicly in December 2016 that "as of January, Hornbach stops their collaboration with Holzindustrie Schweighofer with respect to construction wood and planed wood.” Impressive, worthy of following, you also hit a high score in terms of image, and the fact that you don't play with big words. To bear the name Hornbach, to be then in May 2017, to continue to do business with Schweighofer, to have on the shelves and to continue to sell the products you said you would give up.

    To bear the name Hornbach and to be recorded with a hidden camera saying you frequently receive wood from Schweighofer, last time being last week, next time being next week. To bear the name Hornbach and, continuing to buy from Schweighofer, to implicitly become an accomplice to the plunder going on right now in Romania's forests. To bear the name Hornbach and, by lying and misleading and defying, to turn your own clients into accomplices to the crime to which you knowingly contribute, a crime not just against nature but also against the health of people in this country. This means to be a mafioso. [7]

  • GET INVOLVED

    Hornbach presents itself publicly as a sustainable and environmentally friendly company. In reality, their rush for profit has no limits. In our investigation, we discovered that Hornbach has not even respected the half-measures announced. Moreover, they resorted to immoral tactics to hide the origin of the wood they had committed to give up.

     

    Write to Hornbach yourself and ask them to definitively stop their collaboration with Schweighofer.
     

    Follow the steps below:

    1. Write a new email to the following addresses: ronela.gherasim@hornbach.com, info_ro@hornbach.com, simona.rosu@totalpr.ro, florian.preuss@hornbach.com, anna.krall@hornbach.com, confirmari@de-clic.ro
    2. Copy the email model below:
       

    For the attention of the general manager, Mr Mugurel-Horia Rusu,

    Dear Sir,

    Hornbach company declared publicly in December 2016 they would give up construction wood and planed wood from Schweighofer. However, an investigation by the de-clic community shows this has not actually happened. Moreover, Hornbach lies to its clients hiding the origin of wooden products.

    Construction wood and planed wood from Schweighofer was found in all 5 Hornbach stores in Romania. By continuing to make business with this company you chose to be on the side of a deeply corrupted system which decimates the country's forest lands. Therefore we, members of the de-clic community, will completely boycott the Hornbach store chain until you urgently and definitively stop any commercial relation with Holzindustrie Schweighofer.

    With determination,
    --------------

    3. Don’t buy any Hornbach products until the company has given up its collaboration with Holzindustrie Schweighofer.
    4. Tell your friends, family and everyone you know about the horror at which Hornbach is an accomplice.

  • RIGHT OF REPLY

    On 11 2017 de-clic published the current investigation which demonstrates that Hornbach deceived their clients regarding the termination of their trade relations with Schweighofer.
    We publish the right of reply of Hornbach Romania, which was sent to us one week after it was requested. Some explanations are however necessary:

    Hornbach Romania admits they continued and they still continue to sell wood purchased from Holzindustrie Schweighofer (HS). This is the first public acknowledgement of this fact.
    These clarifications were left aside in the press release announcing that the company would give up construction and planed wood from Schweighofer. This lying by omission led clients to believe that the trade relation between Hornbach and Schweighofer would terminate in January 2017.
    Regardless of Hornbach's product classification, all wood processed by Schweighofer lost the sustainability certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) because it originates from sources that can be illegal. Actually, FSC explicitly mentioned that they withdraw the certification as the Austrian company failed to comply with sustainable forest management standards.

    Hornbach invokes a mistaken reading of product labels in the stores within the de-clic investigation. We publish two photos of the same shelf, from two different angles. As it can be noticed, the same type of products can be found both on the upper and on the lower side of the label, both unpacked and packed under a cover with the HS logo. The label indicates dry timber, that is, construction wood according to Hornbach's classification, one of the Schweighofer products which they committed to abandoning.

    We repeat that Hornbach was requested to express an opinion before the investigation Hornbach – lies on shelves was published. The record of this request can be heard here. Hornbach returned with this right of reply only now, one week after the investigation was published.
    De-clic community will not accept to be intimidated by Hornbach Romania and will continue to request this company and all other companies that sell wood from illegal sources to stop such trade practices that leave us without forests. Unmasking half-measures and deceitful business practices will always be on the basis of de-clic investigations.

    "Hornbach continues to deceive their clients and Romanian society, even in their right of reply. We would have expected Hornbach to admit this is a serious issue and, at the eleventh hour, to take the right steps and to keep their chin up (as they recommend customers to do in their advertisements)", said Raluca Veștemeanu, campaigner at de-clic.

    De-clic continues the investigation with the other chains of stores that announced they ceased their collaboration with Schweighofer: Leroy Merlin and Brico Depot. If you have any kind of information on this line, please send it to us at contact@de-clic.ro

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