As part of N Brown’s ongoing commitment to sustainability, we recently rebranded our Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”) charter to a new Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) initiative. While CSR has always represented the Company’s efforts to foster positive change across all aspects of sustainability, the move to ESG will allow the Company to better demonstrate how it:
- Considers climate change in its corporate strategy
- Treats colleagues and its wider stakeholder base
- Builds trust and champions innovation
- Manages its supply chain
A Sustainability Exposition was held this year to engage with colleagues on the topic of sustainability and to pose the question “What does sustainability mean to you?”. Colleagues were invited to meet with several suppliers who are helping us to deliver sustainable changes within the business, from our packaging to our product labels, and we showcased up-cycling techniques and ways to Make A Difference in the community. The Exposition ended with a discussion forum which gave colleagues the opportunity to share with members of the ESG Working Group what sustainability means to them and what areas they would like to see the business focus on. This in turn has fed into the new ESG initiatives as we recognise the value of our colleagues’ opinions in shaping the strategy for this all-important topic.
A major step in our menswear sustainability
In April 2020, Jacamo launched its new sustainable denim range – a major step in our Menswear sustainability journey. All our Jacamo jeans are now made using sustainably sourced fabrics. Our new suppliers use hydroless technology, organic cotton and recycled yarn, which, along with other techniques, allows us to grade the reduced impact on the environment through an Environmental Impact Measuring (“EIM”) score. A standard pair of jeans usually scores approximately 33 EIM, whereas our new Jacamo jeans score between 11 – 22 EIM depending on the style. In addition, all labelling within the jeans is made from recycled materials and our use of digital fit technology has reduced the number of physical samples produced as part of the design process, further enhancing the sustainability of this range.
Where people are concerned, so are we
N Brown considers its people to encompass all colleagues, customers and stakeholders connected across our business and throughout our supply chain. We continue to develop engaging policies and practices that enable colleagues to bring their best selves to work. N Brown promotes and encourages flexible working practices that allow colleagues to expand and develop their skills in a diverse and inspirational environment. We expect everyone in our supply chain to be treated with dignity and respect, and to be provided with fair opportunity and reward.
We continue to be a member of the 2018 Transition ACCORD (formerly the Bangladesh ACCORD) which works with retailers to improve conditions for thousands of workers across Bangladesh. N Brown remains committed to this cause and will continue to support efforts in Bangladesh.
We are members of Action, Collaboration, Transformation (“ACT”), which is a ground-breaking agreement between global brands, retailers and trade unions to transform the garment and textile industry. One key aim of the agreement is to achieve living wages for workers through industry-wide collective bargaining linked to purchasing practices. We are collaborating with other key brands and, in coordination with IndustriALL, are supporting five key territories across the globe. We will continue to work closely with suppliers to promote responsible sourcing and ensure that all workers are treated with fairness, respect and are safe at work.
Building on our Ethical Principles for Trustworthy AI, first launched in 2019, we will continue to adapt our learning and behaviours as we use data to better serve our customers, finding new ways to delight them with products and services to fit their lives.
Championing inclusivity, we continue to focus on the needs of the underserved customer groups. As a financial services provider, we take our obligations as a responsible lender seriously and do everything in our power to help customers with their money management, ensuring affordability and transparency in respect of our terms and conditions of service.
Our colleagues in the UK continue to support the N Brown Corporate Charity, Maggie’s, a national cancer support charity which has local centres in Manchester and near our distribution centre in Oldham. We are pleased to confirm that our partnership has been extended for an additional year. To date, the fantastic support for Maggie’s has been purely colleague driven.
In 2020 we will continue to look for new and innovative ways to support the charity given the challenges faced following the Covid-19 outbreak. Work with our nominated Brand Charities, Breast Cancer Now for Simply Be and Prostate Cancer UK for Jacamo, continued throughout FY20. Following the launch of our refined brand strategy in FY21, the Company will reassess its Brand Charities to ensure they align to causes close to our customers’ hearts.
Protecting the earth begins with respecting it
N Brown is part of a rapidly changing retail world which is under increased scrutiny and demand from customers, and our wider stakeholder base, to ensure that our products are sourced, produced and transported as sustainably as possible.
We continue to focus on reducing our Greenhouse Gas (“GHG”) emissions from both direct and indirect sources. LED lighting projects have been implemented at our distribution centres and Head Office with additional projects planned for FY21. Following the quantification of GHG emissions arising from third party logistics, we have been focusing on reducing the amount of unplanned air freight through improved supply chain planning. Compared to last year, logistics GHG emissions have fallen by 13%. We continue to source 100% zero carbon and renewable electricity and have committed to this supply until 2024.
Over the past year, there has been a concerted effort to improve sustainability across our plastic product and despatch bags. Product bags are now made from 50% recycled content, which is well above the statutory minimum of 30%. Product bag sizes have been streamlined so that they are smaller and require less plastic. Fewer bag sizes also enables more efficient packing. Despatch sacks are made from 65% recycled content.
We continue to promote the philosophy that a transparent supply chain will allow for a more sustainable one. Factory audits and gradings are carried out by our supply chain partner, Verisio, who deliver comprehensive supplier audits including information on wages, working hours, general sustainability and ethical practices. The longer-term goal is to provide our buyers with a supplier scorecard which gives them full visibility on supplier performance, including a sustainability metric.
We have partnered with the Forest Stewardship Council (“FSC”) to ensure that timber-based packaging is as sustainable as possible. All swing tickets for Jacamo, Simply Be and JD Williams are sustainable, and proudly display the FSC approved logo. The transition from paper to digital has seen the volume of paper used in marketing and catalogues diminish significantly. We continue to source paper from certified and sustainable sources.
We continue to report to the Carbon Disclosure Project on the Climate Change and Forests modules. In 2019 we attained a score of B for the Climate Change module and a C in the Forests module. The CDP have introduced a new supplier engagement rating which evaluates the work we do with our supply chain on climate change; for this we received an A-.
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