Principally GFG is committed to being fair to the people making our private label products and collaborative in working with our brand partners to drive continuous improvement on social and environmental impacts in their own supply chains. We recognise the responsibility that we share with our suppliers to source products in an ethical manner and we want our employees and customers around the world to be confident that the people who make our products are treated fairly, enjoy decent human rights and are not exposed to unsafe working conditions. We place significant emphasis on our ethical trade standards in our relationships with suppliers and will only work with companies who demonstrate our shared values.
GFG stocks third-party brands, white label and own-brand ranges. Our own brands across the Group cover apparel, footwear and accessories and in these instances, we design and develop the products ourselves. The majority of our factories are in Brazil, but we also work with facilities in China, Argentina, Indonesia, Australia, India and Bangladesh. All suppliers, factories and subcontractors are required to abide by the standards set out in our Supplier Code of Conduct and these standards are incorporated as a part of the contractual agreements with suppliers.
All tier one factories which manufacture for GFG own brands are required to provide a comprehensive social audit, assessing the working conditions in that location, before trading commences. These are either conducted by independent third party audit firms or by internal audit teams and involve independent and confidential worker interviews. All factories are re-audited at least every 24 months, with many also having a follow up audit in between the full audits.
GFG has a Group-wide system in place for classifying non-compliances which supports consistent classification of audit issues as either highly critical, critical, major or minor. We will not commence working with factories who have outstanding highly critical or critical issues. Subcontracting without approval is prohibited by GFG businesses and where it is found to have taken place the regional business will either issue a contract breach notice or termination letter.
We recognise that the expectations outlined in our Code of Conduct may not always be met and we are committed to working with suppliers and factories to progressively achieve change over time. As a result our preference, in the interests of the wellbeing of people in our supply chain, is to see non-compliances remediated and we actively play a role in driving this change, and set specific timeframes for improvement. We have provided training and development opportunities in both China and Brazil to help factories understand our requirements and improve their performance.
Unfortunately, however there have been situations where, although we have worked to try and have our requirements understood and met, we have not been successful in remediating an issue at factory level and we have had to cease trading with a facility. The right to terminate the commercial relationship is protected within our contractual agreements with suppliers.
Addressing the complex challenges that come with an international supply chain is not easy or simple, and often requires a collaborative effort with different stakeholders to promote lasting change. GFG is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative, a leading alliance of companies, trade unions and Civil Society Organisations that promotes respect for workers’ rights around the globe. Through the ETI we collaborate with industry partners and leverage the ETI’s experience on the ground in sourcing countries.
As a fashion retailer, we recognise that much of our environmental impact is a result of how the materials which make the products we sell are made, particularly in terms of water, chemical and land impacts. We have a responsibility to understand and reduce this impact and are driving adoption of less environmentally harmful materials such as organic cotton, tencel, leather Working Group certified leather and linen across our own-brands. In 2020 we will announce a public target on adoption of sustainable materials.
As a multi-brand retailer we have the opportunity to influence third party brands to also adopt better practices and as we have already seen through THE ICONIC’s Considered edit, our commitment to establish a sustainable fashion edit across all our sites is a positive driver of action amongst third party brands.
In parallel to this we are working on gaining greater visibility of the second tier of our supply chain including fabric and dying facilities, which will enable us to conduct more comprehensive assessment of our environmental footprint and in turn take steps to reduce it.
GFG has an Animal Welfare Policy in place that outlines our expectations on how and where animal materials are used in our products. This is applicable to all of our regions’ own-brands. The Policy is based on the industry-recognised Five Freedoms, developed by the UK’s Farm Animal Welfare Committee.
Where animals are used in our subsidiaries’ own-brand products, we require them to be a by-product of the food industry. None of the Group’s own-brands sell products that use real animal fur of any kind, exotic skins or hair from the Angora rabbit. These requirements are reflected in contracts with suppliers.
We will continue to strengthen our core private label ethical trade requirements and support factories to improve their standards through training opportunities. We will assess our animal welfare and private label water footprints and implement plans to reduce our impact. We will drive progressive uptake of sustainable materials in our private label brands, set minimum onboarding criteria for third party brands and engage existing brands both to provide more sustainable products and improve their overall sustainability performance. We will continually engage our customers in this journey and enable them to make more responsible purchasing choices.
of private label factories have participated in training programs
of private label water footprint mapped and plans in place to reduce impact
of regions will have a sustainable fashion edit
of the top 50 brands engaged on sustainability and minimum sustainability onboarding criteria for brands operational