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Walpole publishes first sustainability report of UK luxury companies

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Walpole, the trade body that represents British luxury companies, has published a sustainability report following up to its one year manifesto.

In January 2020 Walpole launched its sustainability manifesto with the aim empower its client’s businesses towards a net carbon and zero waste future, supported by strategic partner McKinsey & Company.

Luxury companies including Burberry, Dunhill, Harrods, Johnstons of Elgin, Mulberry, The Savoy and Chivas Brothers among many others have come together regularly in working groups facilitated by Walpole to share their passion, knowledge and expertise with one another and to galvanise collective action that is powering the sector forward in achieving this important goal.

Insights from fashion and accessory businesses include striving for carbon neutrality, sustainable packaging innovation, responsible sourcing and traceability and circularity – extending product life, upcycling, repairing and using healthier, sustainable materials.

“Nearly 90 percent of consumers believe that more attention needs to be paid to reducing pollution, and two thirds of consumers, see it as more important to limit climate impacts in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.” - McKinsey

Helen Brocklebank, CEO of Walpole, said, “Sustainability is firmly on the agenda of the British luxury sector, which has always been committed to quality of the highest order and strong values which run through luxury brands’ DNA. Walpole members have focused that commitment over the course of the last year and prioritised their sustainability strategies, coming together in our working groups to share their knowledge and insight and to collectively produce new innovation and solve the problems that stand in their way. They’ve made real progress. This is very much a journey and one that all businesses need to embark on. The luxury sector has much insight and is very willing to share its knowledge with others as collaboration is crucial across businesses and geographical borders.”

Walpole Sustainability Manifesto

Aligned to the UN Sustainability Goals, Walpole’s Sustainability Manifesto, aims to set industry best practice aspirations in sustainability for the British luxury sector with four overarching principles:

  1. Lead the transition towards a CIRCULAR ECONOMY
  2. Safeguard the environment and NATURAL RESOURCES
  3. Guide PARTNERS AND SUPPLIERS towards sustainable practices
  4. Advocate equal and respectful WORKING CONDITIONS

Looking ahead

Building on the luxury sector’s sustainability progress to date, multiple opportunities exist to continue the journey and collaborate to accelerate and amplify impact. Firstly, to advance the shift to a circular economy, luxury brands have a real opportunity to strengthen their position in product durability, deepening their focus on take-back systems, offering repair tutorials and exploring brand-sanctioned resale. The next decade will also see the emergence of a plethora of innovative materials, as businesses begin to embrace materials that contribute positively to the environment and nourish biodiversity.

Walpole currently represents more than 270 UK luxury companies including fashion houses Alexander McQueen and Burberry, Harrods, Net-a-Porter and Bremont Watches.

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