PEOPLE, PRODUCT AND PLANET: 5 QUESTIONS WITH SUPERDRY
Earlier this year, we held a special edition of our “UK Retail Market overview webinar”, where we were joined by Eda Togan, Country manager, Turkey & Close regions for SUPERDRY PLC (Superdry). Here, she spoke to us about the work Superdry are doing in their bid to become the most sustainable fashion brand by 2030, and our audience were also given the chance to ask her some questions.
1. What has been the best sustainable action that you have made?
It’s difficult to choose one over another, but I’d say the publicly recognised ones are the best actions because of the impact they’ve had on the public. As a quick reminder, we won the Financial Times European Climate Leaders award, which lists companies that have significantly reduced their greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing greenhouse gases is the most important, I believe, because it has a direct impact on the world in a short amount of time. In 10 or 15 years, there will not be a world to live in if we carry on as we are; every individual creates greenhouse gases, not just big corporations. For example, the food waste in your kitchen lets off greenhouse gas emissions. We’ve been able to make such great progress by being forward thinking with initiatives and discussions around sustainability, even before it became a ‘hot topic’. So, it was great for us to appear at the top of a list of hundreds of retailers, and it has given us even more drive to achieve and maybe even exceed our targets.
2. How have you continued to work with existing suppliers, given the changes you have made to the way you source?
Superdry has always had partnership agreements with the businesses we source from, which has allowed us to grow together. We work to a minimum of six to eight months in advance, so everyone knows what they need to change or improve regarding their operations. This could be to do with automation, sustainability, technical approaches or speed, etc..
It is quite common for retailers to have concerns around whether processes are being adhered to along the supply chain, but we have an understanding with our partners that being sustainable is the way to go in order to continue being successful. It is the golden rule for us to support our suppliers, not to go for a penny less elsewhere, and instead to focus on improving their lives and growing with them in a sustainable way.
3. And for new suppliers, what is the onboarding process like for them, what do they have to do to qualify?
We have quite strict rules for new suppliers because of how big our goals are, we need to make sure that our ambition is shared with our supply base. We might create the product, but they make it happen and put it in our stores, and that's why we ask for a certain level of compliance on organic cotton, recycled materials, sustainable production sites and related certifications. We also consider the prospective factory's potential for sustainable development - in relation to new technologies and applications - as these are important for the creation of our products. Although it may sound strict, these are the sort of steps big retailer's need to take in order to save the world from waste.
4. So do you think sustainability should become an integral, compulsory part of retail?
Rather than governments implementing rules, I think what will actually drive sustainability is consumers making better, more informed choices. We are giving consumers the chance to be more sustainable, and live a truly sustainable lifestyle. The sustainable mantra that we live by is what consumers see in our products.
5. How do you see the future of poly cotton and do you think micro fibres can be a natural replacement for things like cotton?
Polyester and cotton mixed fabrics are a trend that may well carry on, but recycled materials, low impact materials are key. It doesn't matter what it is, as long as it has a low impact on our world. That's why we recycle our cut waste, whether that is recycled cotton or recycled polyester. Cotton is one of our core materials in our product ranges, so it was very important to us to find sustainable production methods and to achieve 100% organic cotton growth by 2025.
Want more of the latest retail insights and industry updates? Join us at Autumn Fair from 5th - 8th September 2021 as we refuel retail. You can register by clicking here.