The Costco Story | Costco Code of Ethics | Kirkland Signature | Costco in the Community

The Costco Story

In less than two decades, Costco has transformed the retail world.

The Costco story begins in 1976, when entrepreneur Sol Price introduced a groundbreaking retail concept in San Diego, California. Price Club was the world’s first membership warehouse club, a place where efficient buying and operating practices gave members access to unmatched savings.

At first, Price Club was limited exclusively to business members, who could purchase a wide range of supplies and wholesale items. Jim Sinegal, the executive vice-president of merchandising, distribution and marketing, was instrumental in fine-tuning the merchandise and marketing strategies, helping to turn Price Club into a success story that changed the face of retailing worldwide.

Seven years later, Jim Sinegal channeled his expertise into co-founding Costco Wholesale with Jeff Brotman, and together they opened the first warehouse in Seattle, Washington in 1983.

Over the next decade, both Price Club and Costco Wholesale continued to innovate and grow, and in 1993, the two mega-retailers merged, creating a gifted leadership team that soon made Costco the world’s most successful warehouse club.

Today, as the company evolves, it stays true to the qualities that helped attract and retain millions of loyal members around the globe:

Commitment to quality. Costco warehouses carry about 4,000 SKUs (stock keeping units) compared to the 30,000 found at most supermarkets. By carefully choosing products based on quality, price, brand, and features, the company can offer the best value to members.

Entrepreneurial spirit. Throughout the decades, the entrepreneurial drive for excellence has continued to define Costco staff at every level. From its management team to the people on the warehouse floor, everyone is united in a common goal to exceed member expectations.

Employee focus. Costco is often noted for being much more employee-focused than other Fortune 500 companies. By offering fair wages and top-notch benefits, the company has created a workplace culture that attracts positive, high-energy, talented employees.

Costco Code of Ethics

To continually provide our members with quality goods and services at the lowest possible prices. In order to achieve our mission, we will conduct our business with the following code of ethics in mind:

  • 1. Obey the law
  • The law is irrefutable! Absent a moral imperative to challenge a law, we must conduct our business in total compliance with the laws of every community where we do business.

  • 2. Take care of our members
  • Costco membership is open to business owners, as well as individuals. Our members are our reason for being – the key to our success. If we don’t keep our members happy, little else that we do will make a difference. There are plenty of shopping alternatives for our members, and if they fail to show up, we cannot survive. Our members have extended a trust to Costco by virtue of paying a fee to shop with us. We will succeed only if we do no violate the trust they have extended to us, and that trust extends to every area of our business.

  • 3. Take care of our employees
  • Our employees are our most important asset. We believe we have the very best employees in the warehouse club industry, and we are committed to providing them with rewarding challenges and ample opportunities for personal and career growth. We pledge to provide our employees with:

    • Competitive wages
    • Great benefits
    • A safe and healthy work environment
    • Challenging and fun work
    • Career opportunities
    • An atmosphere free from harassment or discrimination
    • An Open Door Policy that allows access to ascending levels of management to resolve issues
    • Opportunities to give back to the community through volunteerism and fundraising

    Today we have location managers and vice presidents who were once merchandise stockers and service assistants or who started in clerical positions for Costco.

    We believe that Costco’s future executive officers are currently working in our Warehouses, Depots and Offices, as well as in our Home Office.

  • 4. Respect our suppliers
  • Our suppliers are our partners in business, and for us to prosper as a company, they must prosper with us.

    If we follow the four principles of our Code of Ethics throughout our organization, then we will achieve our fifth principle and ultimate goal.

  • 5. REWARD OUR SHAREHOLDERS

Kirkland Signature: What's in the Brand?

The History

For more than two decades, the Kirkland Signature™ brand has stood for unparalleled quality and value.

Costco launched its own private-label brand so that we could take a more active role in ensuring even better value for our members — the highest quality standards at the lowest possible prices.

The Kirkland Signature brand allows us to control every aspect of the product — freshness, ingredients, production, packaging, and more. By taking the lead in sourcing and formulating new products, co-branding with premium national and international brands, and partnering with top manufacturers around the world, we’ve created an exclusive range of products that reflect our members’ tastes and exceed their expectations.

Process

Every product that carries the Kirkland Signature name is carefully researched, tested, handselected, or custom-created by a dedicated team of experts here at Costco.

What we do:

  • We re-brand top-quality merchandise to bring our members unbeatable savings
  • We co-brand with member favourites to offer big savings on members’ best-loved products from Jelly Belly, Campbell’s, Kettle Chips, and many others.
  • We source new products from all over the world so our members can be the first to enjoy new trends, styles, materials, flavours, and technologies.
  • Improve existing products to meet higher standards of taste, quality, health, and convenience.
  • We create new products that reflect member preferences and meet new standards of quality and value.

Quality

The Kirkland Signature brand stands for quality above all else — quality that exceeds the standards set by leading national brands.

Our commitment to quality extends beyond the product itself to the environment it is created in — the orchards where produce is grown, the factories where products are manufactured, and the warehouses where our products are stored.

One final, integral step is ensuring that the workers who make these products are paid well, treated fairly, and work in healthy, safe environments.

Costco in the Community

BBC Children in Need

Our employees across the country produce unique events that not only generate donations to the cause but also raise awareness of the charity and its critically important work. Children in Need exists to change the lives of disadvantaged children and young people in the UK. The vision of the charity is that every child in the UK has a safe, happy and secure childhood and the chance to reach their potential. Costco has been involved in this charity since 1997.

Backpack Program

Each year, many students around the world who attend an in-need school within proximity to a Costco location are given a backpack. Since 1993, the company has donated more than 4.6 million backpacks filled with basic school supplies in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Puerto Rico and the UK. Each year UK warehouses hand out over 3,500 backpacks.

United Way Payroll Giving Programme

Costco Wholesale is commited to supporting programmes that focus on children, education, and health and human services in the communities where we do business. Our goal is to support organisations that are focused and effective in the pursuit of their goals, and demonstrate strong leadership, clarity of purpose and diligent use of resourses. We believe successful organisations can sustain their basic operations through planning and collaboration. We encourage broad community support and responsible fiscal management.