Group recognised with delivering 2019 Responsible Retailer Initiative of the Year
22nd May, 2019
At the Cotton On Group (the Group), making a positive difference in the lives of everyone we touch; whether in our backyard or on the other side of the world is a top priority and one we invest in greatly.
The environments in which our products are made, the people who make them and the materials used are incredibly important to us and form a critical part of our ethical approach to doing business.
At last week’s World Retail Congress Awards, held in Amsterdam, the Group was privileged to be acknowledged for its ethical and sustainable approach of doing business.
Shortlisted in two categories, we were thrilled to walk away with the recognition of 2019 Responsible Retailer Initiative of the Year Award through our work with our first sustainable cotton program in Kwale Country, Kenya. The Kenya Cotton program will assist the Group to achieve its goal of sourcing 100% sustainable cotton by 2021 through our partnership with the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI).
In 2014, in partnership with Business for Development, Base Titanium and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Cotton On Group launched the program. In 2018, the Group continued the project resulting in some key outcomes that bring to life our business purpose to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
Kwale is located on the south coast of Kenya and is a region which experiences low agricultural yields due to insufficient training of farmers in sustainable farming techniques, and poor soil management. In addition, the local community has had limited access to formal education, has low household incomes (< US$1 per day) and rising food prices.
The project aims to improve the livelihoods of the Kwale community by increasing agricultural productivity in the region and creating a pathway out of poverty. Farmers are trained in sustainable cotton farming practices and are assisted in establishing their farms.
As part of this partnership, the Group funds the training and development of farmers in more sustainable techniques including improved water management, soil management, pesticide use and rotation cropping. In addition, the Group is also committed to purchasing 100 per cent of the cotton.
Beyond this the Group has an Ethical Sourcing Program (established in 2009) including our 14 Rules to Trade, which governs the sourcing, manufacturing and supply of products across our global supply chain. We also publicly disclose our supplier base as we work toward the goal of 100% supply chain traceability. Read more about our work in this space there cottonon.com/thegood
Retail experts from around the globe make up the World Congress Awards judging panel and include Grand Jury judge, Bernie Brooks, former CEO of Edcon. He commented on the Group’s win;
“The Responsible Retailer of the Year is one of the prestige awards at the World Retail Congress. Dominated by companies such as Woolworths South Africa over the years, it was great to see the Grand Jury recognise the work of the Cotton On Group team for the Kenya Cotton Project and the. As a member of the Grand Jury, It was great that the panel awarded an Australian company with significant success overseas. “
At the Group, we know that our responsibility goes far beyond selling clothes and we endeavour to use the size and scale of our operations to have a positive impact on our people, communities and the planet and we’re grateful that The Congress were able to see this passion area of our business.
Integrity is one of the six values that underpin who we are and the way we work and at the Group operating with integrity means being ethical, honest, transparent and responsible in everything we do, which encompasses our work with BCI through the Kenya Cotton Program.
The Group’s Chief Financial Officer, Michael Hardwick attended the World Retail Congress to receive the 2019 Responsible Retailer Initiative of the Year Award and was in good company among other Australian winners including leading auto parts and accessories retailer, Super Cheap Auto and financial technology company, Afterpay.
While we’re proud of what we have achieved to date and this recognition through the World Retail Congress, we acknowledge are on a continuous road of improvement. We aim to make right and meaningful decisions at every turn – not just because it’s the best way of doing business but because it’s simply the right thing to do.