Pierre Börjesson has more than 14 years of experience from various roles within H&M Group. Recently Team Denim Focus had an exclusive interview with Pierre Börjesson , Head of Sustainability – Global Production of Swedish fashion brand H&M Group. Key discussion points are mentioned below for our readers-
Denim Focus: How are you evaluating this 2nd wave COVID-19 critical situation for the Bangladesh textile and apparel industry? Will H&M reduce its order or increase its Sourcing?
Pierre Börjesson: While our purchasing and sourcing strategy is long-term, considering the uncertainties with how the pandemic will develop, we are of course still closely monitoring the situation as it develops. Our overall goal is to continue working long-term with our suppliers, in Bangladesh and elsewhere. Bangladesh is one of our biggest production markets and will also going forward be important for us. We decline to comment in detail about orders in different countries.
Denim Focus: What was your observation in the 1st wave of Covid-19?
Pierre Börjesson: The pandemic has naturally caused an unprecedented situation for the whole industry and we are acutely aware that manufacturing suppliers and garment workers are in a vulnerable situation. The pandemic has made it evident how important our industry is for the livelihood of millions of people and communities around the world.
We work closely with our suppliers and other industry stakeholders, and we are all doing our best to tackle any challenges. The pandemic has also clearly shown the importance of working closely with your suppliers. Irrespective of whether there is a pandemic or not, we want to be a fair and trusted business partner to our suppliers and we have also during the pandemic fully stood by our responsible purchasing practices and contractual agreements.
Denim Focus: Online retailing is increasing, what H&M foundation planning for future business?
Pierre Börjesson: Although we are still managing negative effects of recurring store closures, it is clear that customers appreciate our offering. The changes that we were already seeing in areas such as digitalisation and sustainability have been speeded up further by the pandemic. We have therefore increased the pace of change, and thanks to our significant investments in recent years we are able to meet customers’ changing behaviour and higher expectations with increasing speed.
Our digital initiatives are continuing, along with the development of our physical store network. We can see that customers both want to be able to see, feel and try on the garments in real life and to use digital channels to explore fashion, be inspired and shop. Looking ahead, we will strengthen the interaction between the channels further in order to offer customers the best experience with all of our brands.
Denim Focus: What is your suggestion to factories how factories can be more sustainable for making sustainable products?
Pierre Börjesson: H&M Group’s sustainability vision is to lead the change towards circular and climate positive fashion while being a fair and equal company. We believe and invest in close and long-term relationships with our suppliers and we want our suppliers to grow together with us. We don’t rely on audits alone to improve the sustainability performance of our suppliers.
Through our self-reporting system (Sustainable Impact Partnership Program, SIPP), we allow our suppliers to take a greater responsibility for their own sustainability development. It also allows us to reward those suppliers willing to walk the extra mile beyond minimum requirements. Priorities for us on the environmental side include energy, circularity, water and chemicals.
On the social sustainability side we focus on wages, industrial relations, gender and health & safety. We work together with all our business partners to advance sustainability across these areas.
We want to be part of the solution to the climate crisis and are working towards our goal to become climate positive by 2040 together with our suppliers. An efficient and conscious usage of wastewater is one important aspect of this work.
Around 17% of the production water is today being recycled in our supply chain, which means we reached our 2022 goal two years ahead. Following a successful pilot study, we worked with 19 suppliers in Bangladesh to recycle water in denim washing facilities. The study has led facilities to recycle effluent treatment plant discharge wastewater with minimal advanced treatment, reducing freshwater consumption.
Renewable energy resources is another important aspect. We run energy efficiency programs in different production countries and by the end of last year, 757 tier 1 and 2 supplier factories were enrolled in these programs. We expect global emission reductions from these efficiency programmes to reach 30,725 tonnes CO2.
In Bangladesh, I can mention our continuous efforts together with our suppliers to install rooftop solar panels. Last year we implemented large rooftop solar projects in Bangladesh with 5.7 megawatt-peak combined capacity.