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Farfetch unveils ambitious long-term sustainability goals

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

7 Dec 2020

Farfetch has announced its first set of 10-year sustainability goals as part of its ‘Positively Farfetch’ strategy, with one goal to see its circular business outgrow traditional sales by 2030.

The strategy, part of its wider plan to be “the platform for good in luxury fashion” will see the business looking to increase “the efficiency and diversity of the business, while broadening the customer offer and providing independents, department stores and brands using the platform with practical resources to support their own sustainability efforts”.

  

Four key areas are driving the 10-year sustainability goals:

  • Driving the company’s carbon footprint to zero and beyond through the centralisation of fulfilment, use of more efficient packaging, increased use of renewable energy, and offsetting any remainder
  • Promoting products that are independently recognised or certified as being “consciously” better for people, the planet or animals
  • Enabling customers to extend the life of their clothes and reduce waste through business models such as resale, donations, repairs, or made-to-order, in addition to buying pre-owned
  • Embedding an anti-discriminatory and consciously inclusive culture at Farfetch and achieving diversity and representation within the organisation and in how it represents the industry

These long-term sustainability and corporate responsibility goals will be overseen by Farfetch’s ESG committee of the Board of Directors, formed earlier this year, which includes chief executive and chairman José Neves and board members Stephanie Horton and Diane Irvine.

Thomas Berry, director of sustainable business, Farfetch, said in a statement: “We operate at the intersection of fashion, technology and sustainability. These worlds were already merging before the global lockdown, but the move to online is accelerating rapidly as a result. Setting some ambitious long-term goals is the logical next step in the company’s sustainability journey. 

“We’ve done so much since we launched our ‘Positively Farfetch’ strategy and programme, from ‘Climate Conscious Delivery’ and our ‘Conscious Edit’, to services like ‘Farfectch Secondlife’. Building on all of this, our new 2030 goals are designed to benefit and inspire all of our stakeholders.”

José Neves, founder, chief executive and chairman of Farfetch, added: “As a platform for the luxury industry we are uniquely positioned to enable positive change in many different ways. That’s why we called our sustainable business strategy ‘Positively Farfetch’ - because we want to be, not just any platform, but the platform for good in luxury - a platform that enables and empowers everyone we work with to think, act and choose positively. A credible, granular environmental and social programme, with clear long-term goals, is important for all our stakeholders. 

“For investors, it is an increasingly important part of management’s report card; for business partners, it is part of the service we provide; customers want to see us taking action and so do staff. This year we've seen an accelerated move of luxury fashion sales online operate at the intersection of fashion, technology and sustainability. These worlds were already merging before the global lockdown, but the move to online is accelerating rapidly as a result. Setting some ambitious long-term goals which has only increased the need to prioritise our work in this area and has provided us with the opportunity to embed sustainable and inclusive business practices in the way we grow our business.”

Farfetch aims to be a “climate positive” business by 2030

Farfetch has identified that one of the largest environmental impacts lies within its logistic network. As it has thousands of sellers, each fulfilling their own shipping, some 44 percent of the company’s emissions are related to shipping and returns. To focus on reducing its emissions, Farfetch is looking into increasing packaging and supply chain efficiencies and the use of renewable energy in our operations. However, it has stated that offsetting is the most economically efficient way for the business to immediately reduce its environmental impact. They are doing that by supporting both forestry and renewable energy projects. 

In terms of packaging, new sizes of packaging box have been introduced, to ensure that all items, big or small, are shipped in packages of an appropriate size to help reduce both emissions and paper waste. In addition, the retailer has also switched to Forest Stewardship Certified materials and improved the design to require less tape. 

To reduce its emissions in line with Science-Based Targets, it will be shifting to 100 percent renewable energy sourcing in its offices, expand its offsetting programme, address packaging efficiencies by helping its partners by shipping pieces in bulk via our fulfilment network, offering more sustainable delivery options and prioritising lower carbon materials in products aligned with its conscious goals. 

Farfetch targets “selling more circular than linear”

Farfetch is ambitiously looking to sell 100 percent “conscious” products across Farfetch marketplace, Browns, NGG and Stadium Good by 2030. These will be independently accredited and recognised conscious products as such organic, recycled, upcycled, pre-owned, fair-trade or products from independently rated conscious brands such as those rated positively by leading ethical ratings group Good On You. 

The retailer is also hoping that its circular business can outgrow sales of products made in a traditional, linear way. Over the past year, Farfetch has invested in services to help its customers extend the life of their clothes through pilots including a resale service, Farfetch Secondlife, and a donation service, Farfetch Donate. Following successful pilots, Farfetch added that both of these services are now being expanded to new markets. 

It is hoped that by encouraging its customers to purchase lower waste products, including both pre-owned products or those made from recycled or upcycled materials, as well as those ‘made to order’ it can help to move the fashion system from a linear “take, make, dispose” model to a more sustainable, circular one.

The final pledge is for Farfetch to become a leader in “conscious inclusion” by committing to achieving diversity and representation at every level of the organisation and enabling an anti-discriminatory and consciously inclusive culture.

To hold itself accountable, Farfetch said it would start publishing a “data framework” from next year that establishes clear data baselines to set its goal against and ensure progress is transparent. 

Neves, added: “We want Farfetch to be a diverse and inclusive workplace and platform for all customers, partners and employees. We started on our diversity and inclusion journey some time ago but there is work to do and next year we will be publishing a framework so that we can track our progress and be transparent.

“Sustainability is a cornerstone of the evolution of “Luxury New Retail” where the boundary between offline and online commerce is dissolving as store-based operations are digitised. We will enable partners to enhance their customer experience through embedding sustainability into areas such as delivery, efficient supply chain management, marketing and product merchandising, customer engagement and innovative new service offerings.” 

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Image: courtesy of Farfetch