Luxury brand Burberry has copped flak for physically destroying £28.6 million worth of finished goods, £10.4 million of which consists of products from its beauty inventory, according to its recent annual report. This cost was up from £26.9 million in 2017.
According to AFP, the company had incinerated unsold clothes, accessories and perfume over the past year to protect its brand. Quoting retailers, the report added that the move was also a bid to safeguard intellectual property and stop its projects from being sold at a discount or stolen.
In a statement, the company said that it has careful processes in place to minimise the excess stock it creates. On the occasion where product disposal is required, Burberry claimed it does so in a responsible manner.
The company added that it continually seeks ways to reduce and revalue its waste.
The company also clarified that the £10.4 million beauty product waste was a result of a one-time disposal, linked to a licence agreement with Coty.
That being said, the company has copped flak online for the wastage.
Burberry is not the only one who does this to “protect the brand”
Remember, it takes hundreds of gallons of water to produce most items of clothing, bags, and shoes so that’s doubling down on the waste when companies overproduce stuff that doesn’t sell. https://t.co/o9e7TTrkt4
— Adam Khan (@Khanoisseur) July 19, 2018
.@Burberry and their waste in the name of classism is foul - it's a sign of all that's wrong in the world. Question - who are the "wrong people" to wear your goods?? You're worried about "protecting your brand" when you should be more worried about your integrity. #donate
— mandylorian (@mandylorian) July 20, 2018
I completely understand 'brand protection', but what I will never understand is waste. Pull your labels off & help those in need. I bet a freezing child in winter could've used a coat or scarf...
Have an auction & raise $ for charity... Just sayin' #SMH https://t.co/vDOdkcVhIM
— Christina M. Roof (@Christina_Roof) July 19, 2018
In the same annual report, the company said that it was committed to driving environmental improvements in its supply chain. This includes its operations, offices, stores, manufacturing, and distribution sites. For example, during its FY-2017/2018 financial year, it recycled 52 tonnes of damaged garments into geotextile materials and 51 tonnes of pre-consumer textile waste into regenerated yarns, fabrics and automotive insulation materials.
Last year, the company also started donating leather offcuts to Elvis & Kresse, a sustainable luxury company that creates lifestyle accessories by re-engineering waste material through innovative craftsmanship.
The move supports a broader, five-year partnership between the Burberry Foundation and Elvis & Kresse, which aims to transform at least 120 tonnes of Burberry leather offcuts into a range of new products, designed and sold by Elvis & Kresse. Half the profits from this range will be donated to charitable organisations promoting renewable energy. According to AFP, Burberry also cited partnerships with waste-reduction companies such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Marketing has reached out to Burberry for comment.
In its latest trading report, Burberry revealed that its Asia Pacific business had grown by a mid-single digit percentage. Markets which saw growth include Mainland China, while Hong Kong, Korea and Japan all benefited from Chinese spend shifting more to Asian tourist destinations within the region. The region also saw strong growth in digital, with direct-to-consumer growth being led by Asia Pacific. Mobile was also found to be largest digital channel for the brand.
The past year saw the brand relaunching its website to involve updated and new content. Burberry also leverage on interactive functions on its mobile app, which includes video content and GIFs as a part of our product storytelling. This was accompanied with a call to action to product purchase immediately after reading the story.