We require our suppliers and factories to ensure that their employees are paid a fair wage, treated with dignity, are not discriminated against or exploited in any way and have a safe working environment. The requirements are stated in our supplier code of conduct embedded into our policies, incorporated into the suppliers’ conditions of trading, which they are required to adhere to at all times.
We have two overseas offices based in Hong Kong and Bangladesh working with the London sourcing, ethical compliance and quality assurance teams. The Bangladesh office was established some two years ago to support our strategy to increase direct sourcing, enabling us to have more direct open working relationships, more flexibility, control and transparency, as well as benefitting from improved margins. It is working well and expanding to meet additional demand. We are a signatory to the Accord and support the remediation process to ensure building and fire safety, which our Bangladesh Ethical Compliance team manage in collaboration with the UK Ethical Compliance team. In India we have an established relationship with our sourcing partner, which has its own team dedicated to Debenhams, managing ethical compliance and quality assurance with our own sourcing team.
Due to our international and e-commerce growth the Corporate Responsibility team was increased at the start of the new financial year, to support this area of the business to ensure compliance with international legislation and regulation. The team also have dedicated resource for Reach legislation and by the end of calendar 2015 we expect to publish a revised environmental and chemical
Right product, right country
We buy from around the world using a strategy of ‘right product, right country’. Debenhams, ethical sustainable sourcing is essential to our business with focus on potential risks to the business, such as geographical, social, political, economic and environmental considerations, which are captured and managed through the company risk register. We have a good, established and reliable supply base. When looking at new countries and regions, we often work with existing suppliers who know us and the local region, which can help support and manage risk.
Country sourcing 2015
Sustainable sourcing is a complex operation. With the expertise and knowledge we have, with a strong reliable supply base, we can switch between suppliers and factories to manage risk and increase competitive advantage as necessary. For example, rising labour costs in China have led us to increase manufacturing in other countries, such as Cambodia.
Closer to home
Manufacturing closer to home – i.e. using European suppliers can reduce lead times significantly, giving us more flexibility to test a new colour or respond more quickly to consumer trends. We will continue to run pilots in particular women’s wear, to assess the benefits of speed to market and the environmental impact and cost benefits of working with more European suppliers.