Walpole launches sustainability manifesto

Walpole, the industry body for the British luxury sector, has launched
phase one of its sustainability manifesto at its annual chief executive and
chairman’s dinner.

The event, which took place in the UN Ballroom at the Four Seasons
Hotel, was attended by more than 100 British luxury brands and retailers,
including Burberry, Dunhill, Harrods, Johnstons of Elgin and Mulberry, who
have all committed to prioritising sustainability within their
businesses.

The sustainability manifesto is aligned to United Nations sustainability
goals, and has been designed to set “industry best practice aspirations in
sustainability for the British luxury sector with four overarching
principles” that it hopes will provide “on-going directional guidelines for
the sustainability journey of its members”.

Those four aspirations are: to lead the transition towards a circular
economy; safeguard the environment and natural resources; guide partners
and suppliers towards sustainable practices; and advocate equal and
respectful working conditions.

Helen Brocklebank, chief executive at, Walpole said in a statement: “If
British luxury is to achieve its target of 65 billion pounds in sales over
the next five years, sustainability has to be at the heart of every brand’s
strategy: for Millennials and GenZ who will account for half of all luxury
sales by 2025, true luxury only comes with a clean conscience.”

Luxury industry body Walpole sets out sustainable best practice goals
for members

The initiative is being supported by strategic partner McKinsey and
Company, who launched its sustainability ‘Generation Research’ research
that aims to support the British luxury sector in leading the way on the
imperative towards sustainability.

The report reveals that there is momentum from consumers demanding
sustainable products with approximately 30 percent of GenZ and Millennial
consumers stating that they are willing to pay more for sustainable
products. While it adds, investors and shareholder are increasingly
demanding sustainable investments, with a third of global assets now
managed through sustainable strategies.

This was backed up by the 2020 Walpole-McKinsey ‘Sustainability in
Luxury Survey’ and focus groups conducted among the Walpole membership.
Around 90 percent of brands identified sustainability as a top five
priority for their business largely driven by the increased focus on social
responsibility and changing consumer expectations and purchasing
behaviours. Owing to the wide range of sub-sectors within the British
luxury industry, businesses face different sustainability priorities
depending on their category.

However, the survey revealed responsible sourcing of raw materials,
waste management (recycling, reuse), and reducing greenhouse gas emissions
as cross-cutting sustainability challenges faced by the majority of the
Walpole membership. With members acknowledged that although the luxury
sector has an inherent advantage on key sustainability topics, there is a
need for collaboration with supply chain players and peers.

Michael Ward, chairman of Walpole and managing director at Harrods
added: “As an industry that has always been upheld by the highest
standards, British luxury has an obligation to lead from the front when it
comes to sustainability. There is no doubt that the commitment to quality
and strong values that define our industry must now incorporate measures
that prioritise sustainability within our individual businesses.

“Walpole’s British Luxury Sustainability Manifesto is the unifying platform
needed to focus our individual strategies, share best practice and
demonstrate our commitment to one of our industry’s biggest strategic
priorities. I am heartened and inspired that Harrods will be standing
alongside the wider industry as we continue our own sustainability
journey.”

Pam Batty, vice president, corporate responsibility at Burberry commented:
“The luxury industry needs to collaborate and enact policies and programmes
at scale to protect the environment, implement more sustainable practices
and support workers in its supply chains. While there is no quick fix, we
are hugely supportive of Walpole’s British Luxury Sustainability Manifesto
which will bring together established and emerging UK brands to implement
systemic change and build a more sustainable future for our industry.”

Walpole is a not-for-profit organisation that counts more than 270 high-end
brands amongst its membership, from fashion to automotive, the travel
sector, food and drink, and media organisations.

Image: courtesy of Walpole

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