We have been working in this way since we started over 20 years ago.
In the past years, we have made significant investments to make our buildings as environmentally friendly as possible.
At the end of 2022, our London office, which is the home of the design, merchandising, product development, planning, marketing and sustainability teams, moved to a newly renovated space in Fulham, London which follows best environmental management practices. With an energy efficiency rating of ‘A’ this is expected to halve the office’s environmental footprint.
The Leicester office and warehouse, which has the largest carbon footprint of all our sites, is also undergoing green improvements. In the spring of 2023 we installed solar panels on the roof which will significantly reduce the building's environmental footprint.
PackagingWe send all our orders out in sturdy recycled cardboard boxes that are made locally in Nottingham and Warwickshire. We have never imported cardboard. We ask that anything unsuitable or the wrong size is sent back to us in the same box which ensures that the item is protected and the box can be reused. These boxes are made from around 70% recycled material and are themselves 100% recyclable. One of our box suppliers also collects any cardboard waste we produce and recycles it for us.
Our tissue paper is made in Spain and printed in England by a printer facility which is powered by a hydro-electric turbine. The inks used are all water-based and the facility has a de-inking plant so nothing goes into the drain except clean water.
Plastic bags and hangers are also reused whenever possible and separately sent to be recycled. We are working on finding alternatives to the hangers and plastic bags. If re-packing is needed, we use bags made by using TDPA™ technology which means that the bags are degradable and will rot much faster when exposed to oxygen. We have tried to use alternative non-plastic hangers but unfortunately their mechanical properties were not great.
Planning, designing and creating our catalogues is a big part of our business and we have great manufacturing partners helping us make sure that we can create catalogues in as environmentally friendly a way as possible.
The paper for our catalogues is manufactured mostly in Finland, but also in Germany and Scotland, from the wood pulp of sustainably-grown trees. It is made by UPM, who have a very strong sustainability agenda. They have zero tolerance for deforestation, rainforests are off-limits and have strict processes in place to ensure that forests always grow more than they are used. It is one of the world's largest users of recovered paper and sources virgin materials only from controlled and traceable wood sources. The wood for our 2022 catalogues came mostly from Finland, with some from the UK, Germany and Brazil. Our paper supplier plants 50 million trees a year which is roughly 100 trees planted per minute, and on average they plant four trees for every tree harvested, and we are glad to be part of that process.
We don’t dispose of anything to landfill, and recycle whenever possible. In 2022 we collected for recycling 42.94 tonnes of cardboard, 2.76 tonnes of plastic waste and 2 tonnes of mixed recycling.
We never have and will never throw away a single piece of clothing. All returns are opened by hand and the items are carefully checked for damage. If the items are unworn, other than for the purposes of trying on, they are steamed to take out the creases, and re-packed in recyclable bags, ready to be re-sold.
If the items have small faults such as a loose button, these repairs are made by our in-house seamstress. In 2022 we repaired 2,539 pieces of clothing. If the items are damaged beyond repair for re-sale, they are still repaired but will go into our warehouse sale of end-of-line styles and repaired returns. Held intermittently at our site in Leicestershire, these sales are very popular locally, with the proceeds going to charity. In 2022 we have supported charities such as The Royal British Legion, and victims of the floods in Pakistan. If there is a major fault, for example a large hole, the garments are given to charity, either the British Red Cross or Barnardo’s to be used for fabric recycling.
Travelling for work, like going to trade shows, visits to suppliers and research trips contributes to our footprint. These real-life interactions are what inspire and fuel our designers and ensure that we truly understand our suppliers. We always travel in economy class which reduces the flight footprint significantly and choose to travel by train whenever possible.
A large part of the transport emissions is created when our products travel from the manufacturing factories to our warehouse in the UK. Sea freight is the most common transportation method for our products. Shipping by sea takes much longer than by air but has around 4 times less environmental impact. In 2022 77% of our products travelled by ship and 23% by air.
To deliver our products from our warehouse to your doorstep we use FedEx, Royal Mail and DHL postal services. All companies are committed to reducing their environmental footprint and are introducing innovations like electric transport, efficient route planning and renewable energy.