Burberry says it will stop incinerating stock

UK fashion company Burberry has said it will no longer burn unsold goods after facing fierce criticism for the practice.

Earlier this year, Burberry revealed in its 2017 annual report that it had destroyed £28.6m-worth of stock to guard against counterfeits, which raised eyebrows as the action came against a commitment to becoming carbon neutral, and “reducing, reusing and recycling” any waste created in its business.

It now says it “will stop the practice of destroying unsaleable products, with immediate effect”, adding: “we already reuse, repair, donate or recycle unsaleable products and we will continue to expand these efforts.”

In June the company said the incinerations were carried out to protect its intellectual property (IP) and making sure the surplus stock doesn’t end up being diverted for sale on the black or grey markets. It also protested that the 2017 tally was unusually high because of a change in supplier for its fragrance products.

The incident shone a spotlight on the practice in the fashion industry, however, with Cartier, Piaget and Montblanc parent Richemont and Swedish retailer H&M also criticised for burning stock. It remains to e seen whether the rest of the industry will now follow Burberry’s lead.

“Modern luxury means being socially and environmentally responsible,” said Burberry’s chief executive Marco Gobbetti. “This belief is core to us at Burberry and key to our long-term success.”

The company’s statement includes a rider however that “to respect regulatory constraints, in exceptional circumstances, we may dispose of damaged, defective or expired beauty products where recycling is not an option.”

Burberry also said it would no longer use real fur in its products.

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