Burberry ends practice of destroying unsold goods

Luxury retailer Burberry on Thursday said it will no longer destroy unsold goods, but rather expand existing efforts to reuse, repair, donate or recycle items. The retailer will also stop using real fur and angora in products.

The move comes after Burberry revealed in a presentation to investors in July that it had destroyed £28.6 million ($51.4 million) worth of unsold product in the previous year.

The admission created a PR nightmare for Burberry, which suddenly became the poster child for the controversial yet fairly common practice among luxury retailers of destroying unsold goods, rather than allowing discounted items to diminish brand value.

Burberry’s decision to end the practice is in keeping with steps other retailers have taken to operate more responsibly – whether that relates to the environment, use of low-wage labour, or internal diversity – in response to consumer pressure.

Burberry CEO Marco Gobbetti said this is the new reality for brands today.

“Modern luxury means being socially and environmentally responsible. This belief is core to us at Burberry and key to our long-term success,” he said.

Five-year agenda

Last year, the retailer launched a five-year responsibility agenda that focuses on three goals: driving positive change through 100 per cent of Burberry’s products, becoming carbon neutral and revaluing waste and positively impacting one million people.

Since then, Burberry has become a core partner of the Make Fashion Circular Initiative and partnered with sustainable luxury company Elvis & Kresse to transform 120 tonnes of leather offcuts into new products over the next five years.

The retailer also established the Burberry Material Futures Research Group with the Royal College of Art to invent new sustainable materials.

Animal rights

Alongside its decision to stop destroying unsold goods, Burberry announced on Thursday that it will no longer use real fur, which had been restricted for many years to rabbit, fox, mink and Asiatic racoon.

The company said it will ban these materials as well as angora from future Burberry collections.

Fashion retailers Asos and Gorman stopped using mohair this year, following pressure from animal-rights groups.


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