With London Fashion Week having drawn to a close, the presence of environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion, which has called on the British Fashion Council (BFC) to bring an end to London Fashion Week, cannot go unnoticed. Extinction Rebellion aims to raise awareness of the excess and damage of over consumption. Caroline Rush, BFC CEO has acknowledged: “We are facing a climate change emergency and all need to act.” However, the BFC has argued it can “use the platform of London Fashion Week to communicate not just to the industry, but to the wider public, that not all businesses are equal, that those that support a better future, are committed to change, are those that should be supported.”
Designer Phoebe English has announced her support of new sustainability standards being introduced to the industry, urging “sustainability to be at the forefront of every designer’s mind”.
During the BFC’s Positive Fashion discussion on 17 September 2019, it was agreed that this season’s London Fashion Week “had shown great progress towards ‘positive fashion’”. However, the panel was unanimous that there is “still a long way to go and that businesses must come together to help turn sustainability from niche to norm.”
Highlighting its progress with sustainability, Guess has recently released its third sustainability report. Guess has educated over 250 students and associates on sustainability, reduced its energy emissions by 10% from its fiscal year 2016 baseline and trained over 150 supplier factories in top sourcing countries, since its 2017 sustainability report. Guess has also updated its denim garment care guide, in the hope of reducing water and energy used by customers.
Ikea’s parent company Ingka Group has recently announced that the country retail managers will take on the role of Chief Sustainability Officer, in each of their respective markets. They will lead Ikea’s activity on critical topics, such as sustainable living, renewable energy and equality.
Jesper Bodin, Ingka’s chief executive, has said: “It is our generation’s biggest responsibility and we know that our future success depends on our ability to make a positive impact on people and the planet, which is why we are integrating sustainability into every aspect of our retail operations.”
Ingka has also accelerated its investments in renewable energy and will generate as much renewable energy as it consumes in its operations, exceeding its 2020 target. A new Ikea app has also been launched recently, in order to improve Ikea’s ecommerce offering. Ikea’s global retail sales have grown to €36.7 billion (£32.24 billion) for the 2019 financial year, compared to €34.8 billion last year. In addition, online sales are growing by 46 per cent year-on-year.
H&M group has reported net sales were up 12% year on year in the three months to 31 August 2019, despite annual profits falling by 74% at its UK arm.
Knowing its customer and its place in the market has allowed JD Sports to thrive while its rivals struggle in a tough environment.
However, the UK High Street continues to feel the strain of the UK’s trading conditions, with nearly 3,000 shops shutting on UK High Streets in the first half of 2019. The total number of Jack Wills store closures will rise to 13, following the brand being bought by Sports Direct in August, after it has been announced a further five stores will be closed.
Debenhams’ store sales continue to fall by 2.5% year on year, despite there being a 2.7% increase in total retail sales. Debenhams will be closing 22 of its stores, following a challenge against Debenhams’ company voluntary arrangement being rejected in the High Court.
The closure of seven stores and two outlets has led French Connection’s retail revenue to fall by 12.8% to £23.8 million in the first half of 2019. Chairman and CEO Stephen Marks said that “progress has not been helped by trading conditions” in the UK.
Despite continued investment in product, technology and service, operating profit at River Island has reduced by 56.4% to £35.1 million in the 52 weeks to 29 December 2018.
Toby Bateman has resigned from his role as managing director of luxury online retailer Mr Porter after nine years. A reason for Bateman’s departure has not been provided.
Marks & Spencer has poached the operations director of Morrisons, David Lepley, to begin his role as stores director.
With 31 October 2019 looming around the corner, Sir Charlie Mayfield, outgoing chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, has explained how it has been preparing for the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a deal: “In readiness, we have ensured our financial resilience and taken steps to increase our foreign currency hedging, to build stock where that is sensible, and to improve customs readiness.”
Reacting to details of the Government’s “Yellowhammer” report, British Retail Consortium (BRC) CEO Helen Dickinson has commented: “The Yellowhammer document confirms what retailers have been saying for the last three years – fresh food availability will decrease, consumer choice will decrease, and prices will rise. This isn’t good for the British public and this isn’t good for British retailers.” Lastly, to assist retailers in preparing for the uncertainty and eventuality of a no-deal Brexit, the BRC has produced a practical checklist.
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