02.08.2017 | Hamburg
As a member of the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles initiated by the German Federal Government, the Otto Group has drawn up its own roadmap with individual targets for 2017. Following approval by external auditors, the international retail and services group has voluntarily published its own action plan, and has requested all Partnership members to secure the effectiveness and future viability of the Partnership.
The targets set out in the roadmap represent a logical continuation of the decades-long engagement of the Otto Group for the benefit of society and the environment. While the Group numbers among the leading corporate actors in this area, regarding the goals of the Partnership there are still major tasks to accomplish. In particular, the Otto Group will be focusing on the deeper supply chain in the next few years, and its measures will include eliminating the use of certain chemicals in the pre-manufacturing stage. The company additionally intends to continue to expand the percentage of sustainably cultivated cotton fibre from the Cotton made in Africa initiative in its products, and to further improve working conditions at manufacturing facilities through implementing additional qualification measures. The Otto Group’s roadmap is published on the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles website at: www.textilbuendnis.com/otto-gmbh-co-kg/.
The Otto Group is convinced that the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles can be a success. However, all partners need to make an active contribution: “The Partnership has a future if all – and I mean ALL – members mobilise their strengths and apply them where the leverage effect is greatest. This includes negotiating compromises where necessary”, explains Dr Johannes Merck, Vice President Corporate Responsibility Otto Group. Expecting this commitment from companies alone will not deliver the desired success. “Alongside NGOs, it is up to politics in particular to compel governments in partner countries to implement and enforce existing labour law, and strengthen trade union structures.”
Only if civil society, business, politics and trade unions take a common stand can such vital issues as living wages in sourcing countries be effectively driven forward.
Furthermore, to ensure the future viability of the Partnership, its efforts need to be concentrated on gaining as many new member companies as possible. “This is the only way the Partnership can increase its influence and be genuinely effective in helping to improve textile workers’ labour conditions and living standards, while also improving environmental protection measures”, adds Merck.
The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles is not the solution to all related issues, however, and therefore the Otto Group is also pursuing a range of measures and initiatives outside the Partnership. Through its Sustainability Strategy 2020 the Group is focusing on reducing the negative impacts on people and nature along the entire value chain. Its objectives here include a complete switchover of its cotton-fibre uptake for own and licenced brands to sustainably cultivated cotton, halving its site-, transport- and mobility-related CO2 emissions, and the full integration of all own- and licenced-brand suppliers in high-risk sourcing countries in the Group’s Social Programme. As further evidence of its commitment, in 2004 the Group co-founded the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), followed by the Aid by Trade Foundation with its Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative in 2005, and the Carbon Performance Improvement Initiative (CPI2) in 2012, which supports suppliers in minimising environmental impacts at their own manufacturing facilities.
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Founded in Germany in 1949, today the Otto Group is a globally operating retail and services group with around 49,750 employees. The Group includes 123 major companies and is present in over 30 countries in Europe, North and South America and Asia. Its business activities are grouped into three segments: Multichannel Retail, Financial Services and Service. In the 2016/17 financial year (to 28 February), the Otto Group generated turnover of 12.5 billion euros. It is one of the world’s largest online retailer. E-commerce, catalogue sales and over-the-counter retail form the three pillars of the Otto Group’s Multichannel Retail strategy. Its worldwide corporate activities, numerous strategic partnerships and joint ventures provide the Otto Group with excellent opportunities to transfer know-how and leverage areas of synergy potential. Group companies operate largely independently, guaranteeing flexibility, customer proximity and optimum target-group appeal in their respective national markets.