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Kering's sustainability struggles and achievements

By Vivian Hendriksz

3 May 2016

Fashion |REPORT

London - In 2012, luxury conglomerate Kering committed to achieving a set of Sustainability Targets by 2016. The targets were set by the group itself, as Kering focused on specific environmental and social challenges it faced as a group, ranging from leather traceability and responsible gold sourcing to water pollution, carbon emissions and chemical use.

The targets aimed to guide the group in its overall approach to sustainability, drive its actions and act as a benchmark for progress made to be more sustainable across its entire supply chain, including raw material sourcing. Now, four years after Kering set itself these targets, the group has published its final report on its sustainability journey, revealing whether or not they attained the results planned through their targets. It is the first time a luxury group this large has published a report on the social and environmental impact of its supply chain and sheds light on why working sustainably in some areas is harder than others.

“Sustainability is not an option” for Kering, says Daveu

The report unveiled a mixed bag of results, showing the group excelled in some areas of its target, and struggled in others. Across its numerous supply chains, Kering managed to reduce carbon emissions by 11 percent, cut down on its waste outage by 16 percent and decreased its water usage by 19 percent - an impressive feat in its own right - but all fell short of Kering's target to cut three by at least 25 percent. The production of raw materials currently accounts for 50 percent of Kering's overalls environmental impact, with the processing of the materials accounting for another 25 percent, as the report highlight the wide variety of challenges faced within raw materials.

For example, the group only attained 15 percent of its target goal to source 100 percent of its gold from verified responsible sources. On the other hand Kering achieved 99 percent of its goal to make all collections PVC free, as well as 81 percent and 85 percent of its target to use paper and packaging respectively from certified sustainably managed forests, with at least 50 percent of it being recycled content. "At the beginning, it was about what we can define as ethical, and this kind of sourcing, and what does it mean operationally," explained Marie-Claire Daveu,chief sustainability officer and head of international institutional affairs at Kering, to BoF. "You have to have a clear understanding of not only what’s happening in your company, but what’s happening all over the world: sourcing, legislation, best practices."

Kering only achieved 64 percent of its target to source 100 percent of its leather from responsible and verified sources, which do not transform ecosystems into agricultural land. The luxury conglomerate also aimed to source 100 percent of its crocodile skin, fur and precious skins from certified and verified captive breeding or sustainably handled populations by 2016. They managed to reached 91 percent of its target for crocodile skin, 78 percent for shearling fur and 41 percent for precious skins. According to the report, there are still "very few sources that are transparent enough" and hold up to Kering's standard for precious skins, hence why the achieved goal is so low.

"You have to adapt to the best practices" to work sustainably, says Daveu

Although the luxury conglomerate aims to cut down on its emissions, Daveu maintains that achieving a goal of zero emissions would be impossible for a company as big as Kering. Instead, it has focused on were its supply chain has the largest impact and works to offsets its other emissions. "You have to adapt to the best practices, and at the end of the day, if you are not able to emit zero emissions, we think it is our responsibility to offset that," said Daveu. The last part of Kering's targets focused on social impact, as the group set to evaluate all key suppliers at least once every two years.

Kering performed 6,000 supplier audits over the past four years, which are said to include both its direct and indirect suppliers and the results are shared in the company's annual Reference document. "The Targets we committed to in 2012 guided us to build robust and responsible approaches to address challenges within our business, and beyond, such as climate change," commented François-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of Kering in a statement.

"These approaches are now integrated into our business and I am convinced that this has built the strong foundation necessary across our Group in order to go even further in the future. We will continue to enhance and expand our sustainability efforts to accelerate change in our own business and across the industry, particularly through our open-sourcing philosophy." Following the publication of its sustainability report, Kering is set to announced the next phase of its sustainability strategy, which is said to include the redefinition of its target at the end of 2016.

Photos: Stella McCartney, Balenciaga, Gucci, Bottega Veneta - Facebook

francois-henri pinalut
KERING
SUSTAINABILITY