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Debenhams launches new sustainability targets for the next decade

Tom Shearsmith
16 January 2020

Debenhams has launched a new sustainability programme with ambitious targets that aims to set new benchmarks for UK department stores retailing in the 2020's.

The programme sets out specific objectives of sourcing sustainable packaging; reducing water and chemical use; reducing wastage and cost; and recycling and reusing materials wherever possible.

The targets build on the progress made by Debenhams in the last year. In 2019, the amount of packaging Debenhams used was reduced by 22% and reduced the number of clothes hangers sent from its stores to landfill to zero.

The new sustainability programme includes a series of commitments as it enters a new decade, including:

  • 100% of its cotton to be from sustainable sources by 2022.
  • All cotton garments in its Mantaray collection for the new 2020 season to be BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) sourced.
  • By September 2020 all own brand product sold in a Debenhams store will have at least one sustainable attribute.
  • All lamination to be removed from swing tickets by December 2020.
  • All swing tickets to be sourced using FSC TM paper by December 2020.
  • An operational takeback scheme to be rolled out to every store this spring to recycle old stock and samples in partnership with the charity NewLife, which supports disabled and terminally ill children and their families.

To help achieve these targets, Debenhams has tasked all areas of production including its sourcing, supply chain teams and manufacturing partners with pursuing more sustainable options across all its processes. Building on existing processes overlaid with these commitments will act as a platform for Debenhams to achieve its new sustainability goals.

The commitments made by Debenhams on behalf of its mainstream Mantaray collection and for the future, its Designer brand Hammond by Patrick Grant, follow the launch of a capsule designer collection last season, designed by Graduate Fashion Week award winner, Kate MacMahon. Each piece in the collection was made with a minimum of 50% sustainable fibres.

Steven Cook, Debenhams Managing Director of Fashion, Home & Beauty, said: "In 2019, consumers spent increasing amounts on well-being and experiences and their focus on ethical and sustainable retailing is rising. These trends look set to continue in 2020 – fortunately department stores are well placed to cater for them. Our goal is that every product we sell should have at least one sustainable attribute."

The news follows reports in December 2019 of Debenhams seeking reductions to rents, which brings into question whether the brand will see the end of the new decade in its current form or if sustainability will help keep the brand fresh and modern.

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