Transparency and measurability – this is what the GERRY-WEBER Group wants for its sustainability targets in the future. This is why the company has now published an updated sustainability agenda, which details the specific milestones to be reached in the individual areas by when.
“Mega trends such as climate change and other global challenges accompany our day-to-day work in all areas of the company. After joining GERRY WEBER, I realised that sustainability has, for many years, been an important element of what we do, but that we do not communicate enough about it,” explains Angelika Schindler-Obenhaus, who, in her capacity as CEO, is also responsible for corporate social responsibility (CSR) under the leadership of Annette Koch. The important ISO 50001 and 14001 energy and environmental certificates, the membership of the Textiles Partnership as well as the GOTS Certificate and the “I WEAR I CARE” label, which identifies products with a minimum content of sustainable raw materials of 50 percent, were already in place at GERRY WEBER when she joined the company. Moreover, GERRY WEBER is a member of important alliances such as Amfori BSCI, which is about fair working conditions in the manufacturing countries. “The next step had to be an agenda that is firmly anchored in the overall strategy, which facilitates the concrete implementation of further ambitious goals and meets newly developed values, needs and aspirations. New ways of thinking and new concepts are needed to position companies sufficiently for the future and for social change,” says Angelika Schindler-Obenhaus.
Sustainability is also gaining importance for a successful stock market listing of the company – especially against the background of the upcoming refinancing in 2023. “Our sustainability agenda makes it possible to measure our performance on an annual basis: how ecologically, socially and responsibly do we act and what progress have we achieved? On this basis, we can then enter into dialogue with existing and potential shareholders,” adds Florian Frank, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of GERRY WEBER International AG.
The sustainability agenda is based on a matrix with five defined fields of action comprising a total of 25 sustainability targets and is published on the website of GERRY WEBER International AG. The targets include, for instance, the carbon neutrality of the company headquarters in Halle by 2023, the promotion of the circular economy and the successive increase in sustainable raw materials in the individual products, including a 100 percent share of organic cotton by 2025.
“To come closer to these goals, many measures are already being implemented and many things are being tried out,” says the Chairwoman of the Managing Board, who has been involved in the topic of sustainability since 2010. “Here too we must act more like a start-up and not like a big tanker. Being bold, breaking new ground and even discarding an idea if it turns out not to be practicable – this is the way forward to a more sustainable fashion industry. The worst thing we can do is wait instead of acting. The term ‘purpose’ is already on everybody’s lips. For our company, it has become an important issue, as the social challenges surrounding environmental and social problems will increase in the future. Employees, partners and customers rightly expect companies to take a stand.”
This year alone, GERRY WEBER implemented a wide variety of different measures to become more sustainable. Customers are receptive to the topic of recycling, so a pilot project with boxes for used clothing in 30 shops is now being rolled out across Germany and Austria. The idea to use dead stock, i.e. waste materials that can no longer be recycled, to produce dog beds and sell them online is also based on this circular idea. This project is the result of a cooperation with students from the AMD fashion school. Another cooperation with IKK, the Institute of Plastics and Circular Economy at Leibnitz University in Hanover, is promoting research into the production of recyclates (substances or objects made from recycled materials) from fibres.