C&A China began operations in 2007, and now has 84 stores in 21 cities. The business interprets global fashion trends for the Chinese market, offering a range of styles for China’s emerging middle class, and affordable, quality fashions to young urban professionals and students.
Although there are environmental and social challenges in China, C&A is committed to doing our part. This year we will focus on what we can do as an organization to progress against the global sustainability strategy.
Research conducted by C&A China shows how Chinese shoppers value fabrics they perceive to be softer and healthier, particularly for young children. We are supporting projects to encourage Chinese cotton growers to convert to organic methods, and achieving greater scale by consolidating organic cotton orders with C&A Europe. As part of C&A Global, we’ve also become members of the Better Cotton Initiative. Read more on More sustainable cotton.
In 2015, we began developing a ‘fabric library’ that shows how the fabrics we use affect the environment. In November 2015, we took big steps towards reducing the environmental impact of our materials’ sourcing, by launching our first Forest Protection Policy and joining forces with Canopy to source Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified viscose fibers. Read more in Sustainable materials.
As C&A begins rethinking how we use materials, we’re also encouraging employees to consider how they can apply circular thinking in their roles. In September 2015, we held an interactive workshop for 60 employees, hosted by cradle-to-cradle pioneer Bill McDonough.
Through C&A’s global sustainable supply chain strategy, we work with our suppliers to improve their performance in line with C&A’s global Code of Conduct. We’re taking measures to understand where and why orders are being subcontracted. Overall, C&A China has 120 suppliers, half of which are shared with C&A Europe, but just 15 of these provide more than half of C&A China’s products. This means we have an opportunity to make significant improvements by raising these suppliers’ standards. Read more in Sustainable Supply.
We support the Better Mill Initiative in China, through which we’re helping six key suppliers on the Yangtze and Pearl River Deltas conserve water and energy, improve their chemicals management expertise, reduce waste, and cut pollution.
Eliminating the use of harmful chemicals in wet processing remains an important area of focus in China. In the absence of strong regulation, businesses must take action on chemicals management and support C&A’s Global Chemicals Management Strategy, which includes detailed plans for managing chemical use more effectively in all product categories by 2018. Read more: In our supply chain.
We join in C&A’s global efforts to unite all employees with a shared culture of sustainability. In 2015, we trained all employees on C&A’s new global Code of Ethics. Our employees also took part in C&A’s first global campaign, ‘Inspiring Women’.
By talking and responding to our customers, we’re better able to communicate our sustainability goals. Through a store marketing pilot project in 2014, we learned that customers are willing to pay 10% to 20% more for organic cotton products if they perceive them to be softer and healthier, and to offer the same design benefits as conventional cotton.