Welcome to our Global Sustainability Report

Since our beginnings, we’ve put serving customers and local communities first. We care deeply about the way we do business and our impacts on employees, communities, and the planet. We aim to make HER, our customer, look and feel good, and we respect the trust she puts in us to do the right thing. This has been our history for 175 years - and will be our legacy to future generations.

Our vision - Fashion with a positive impact

But the world is changing. More demand for clothing means more demands on people and the planet, and the garment industry - including C&A - isn't prepared to deal with these demands in a sustainable way. That's why we're committed to fashion with a positive impact. Fashion made with more sustainable materials. With fewer natural resources and with respect for animal welfare. By empowered women and men who are paid a fair wage. In work environments that are safe and transparent. And by creating endless flows of fibres and clothing to create a circular economy in the apparel industry.

This is the future of fashion as we see it. To achieve this vision, we have to evolve the way we create clothing and do it in collaboration and partnership. We must make production more efficient, reduce our environmental footprint, and empower people throughout the supply chain. We know this is not easy. It will take time, hard work, and innovative thinking. But we’re determined to use our size, scale, and partnerships to move from doing less bad to doing more good. And because we’re all in this together, we hope to inspire our customers to act more sustainably as well.

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Our three strategic lenses

Transparency

A focus on being transparent and balanced in our stakeholder dialogue, communications, and performance.

Women

Women are empowered, economically stable, and safe, whether she is a customer, employee, or worker in the supply chain.

Circular Economy

The industry uses a circular economy in which materials are kept in continuous loops.

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A global approach to our sustainability efforts

For years, we've operated successfully as a collection of regional businesses. Our customers appreciate a local shopping experience, and many have their favourite C&A store. But creating fashion with a positive impact - truly embedding sustainability in our business and supply chain - calls for a global approach and an aligned commitment. So, in 2015, we built on our global sustainability strategy and developed goals for 2020. We also created a global sustainability team to drive progress across all four regions - Europe, Brazil, Mexico, and China. Each region contributes to our global goals in ways that are contextual with their local employees, customers, and markets. 

Our new global sustainability strategy addresses the key issues facing the global apparel industry today: resource scarcity, environmental impacts, and fair and safe labour conditions. Two important external frameworks also influenced our strategy. In 2015, we became a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact and committed to the 10 principles addressing human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption for business. Also during the year, we welcomed the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 and we are working to address them.

How will we assess our progress against our goals, the Global Compact, and the SDGs? First, we'll measure ourselves against well-defined goals. But we’ll also evaluate our performance more broadly, through three important lenses:

  1. How well are we helping to empower women—including our female employees, customers, and the women in our supply chain?
  2. Are we being transparent and collaborative with our stakeholders? Are they getting the information they need about how and where we source materials? About conditions in our supply chain? About the environmental footprint of our products?
  3. Are we influencing the industry towards a circular economy? How much have we helped our industry move from a linear model to one where everything is a resource for something else?
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Building on 175 years through leadership, transparency and collaboration

Through each generation of our long history, we’ve been guided by our values, putting integrity and respect for others at the heart of all we do. Today, we draw from that heritage for leadership in social and environmental responsibility. We know there’s much more to do, but we’re making good progress. The C&A business along with the C&A Foundation are up for the challenge, working together to create systemic change in the industry.

 

 

Our first global sustainability research—including more than 7,600 consumers—shows we are recognised as the most sustainable retail fashion brand in most of our retail markets. We’re already the largest buyer of organic cotton, according to the Textile Exchange, and we want to increase availability of organic cotton throughout the industry, while supporting other sustainable alternatives to conventional cotton. And to further promote integrity in our supply chain, we introduced a new global Code of Conduct and have built a platform to disclose our suppliers and factories. We are building upon our long-term relationships with our suppliers—some for over 30 years—to build additional shared commitments to drive performance and leadership.

 

 

But even though we are a large organisation, we can’t change the apparel industry alone. That’s why we collaborate with others. Working closely with partners like C&A Foundation and other organisations focused on the environment and human rights deepens our understanding, expands our reach, and helps us develop lasting solutions. Already, the complementary work between our business and C&A Foundation is creating systemic change. This year, more than 23,000 C&A employees across the world took part in our first global employee engagement campaign, Inspiring Women, raising over €1 million for organisations promoting women’s empowerment. We also collaborated with other brands and global labour unions in the Action, Collaboration, Transformation (ACT) initiative towards improving wages in garment factories. Collaboration and dialogue continues to be the two driving principles for our work and will enable us to have shared value in our industry and beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also recognise that the future of fashion will require systemic change to avoid the current social and environmental challenges in the apparel industry.  In partnership with the C&A Foundation, we will create a hub solely dedicated to incubating and accelerating circular technologies in the apparel industry—with the aim to create endless flows of fibres and clothing.  We will launch this partnership in 2016.

 

 

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Join us on our journey

Fashion with a positive impact. It’s an ambitious vision, and one that inspires us. It will enable a sustainable value chain from farm to customer. It will focus on making a positive impact for our employees, customers, communities, and the planet. And it will help us translate our social and environmental performance into sustainable growth for our business. We are honoured and humbled to be part of this journey - for our stakeholders, our business, our industry, and our shared planet. We invite you to join us.

Edward Brenninkmeijer, Chairman, Global Sustainability Board.  Chairman C&A Foundation.

Jeffrey Hogue, Global Chief Sustainability Officer.  Board Member, C&A Foundation.


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