Our customers' health, safety, and enjoyment of our products is vital. We work hard to ensure product quality and safety, aiming to meet or exceed legal requirements. We also collaborate with others in our industry to raise standards across the apparel sector.
Our Quality, Assurance and Development team in Europe and Asia oversees every aspect of product safety and quality. They examine our goods to determine their physical, chemical, and mechanical properties as well as measurements and workmanship, applying especially strict criteria for baby and children’s clothing. Product testing is carried out by C&A and in cooperation with external laboratories like SGS, Intertek, and Bureau Veritas, to ensure that our collections always meet the latest legal, chemical, and safety standards. This team also helps our suppliers, factories, and colleagues understand safety risks and coordinates with legal bodies and industry associations.
Our commitment to quality extends throughout the entire manufacturing chain, beginning with fibre manufacture and continuing through production to the final random sampling of individual products in our stores.
Whether a certain product can be sold at C&A is determined after a sample of the item has been thoroughly examined according to stringent criteria, such as workmanship and physical properties (resistance to tearing, shrinkage, colour fastness), chemicals, and various legal safety requirements (small parts or the restrictions on the use of cords that could pose a danger to babies or children). Once these and other criteria have been met, an item may be manufactured for C&A.
These inspections take place after production so we can determine whether the product matches our requirements. Workmanship, measurements, and safety checks must be passed before items are allowed into C&A stores.
To guarantee the greatest possible safety for our customers, C&A also performs random due-diligence checks on products in an effort to ensure the product meets our expectations.
To support the development of safe clothing with no hazardous chemicals present, we have implemented a restricted substances policy. We are also active members of voluntary industry groups such as the AFIRM Group (Apparel & Footwear International RSL Management Group) and CADS (Cooperation against Dangerous Substances in Shoes). In 2015, approximately 25% of our collections in Europe achieved the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 rating. This confirms that our fabric, yarn, and processes have undergone a rigorous test for harmful chemicals. Strict controls on fixing agents, dyes, and impregnating agents used to make clothes more durable or flexible are in place for all our clothing.
Globally, we eliminated two per- and poly-fluorochemicals (PFCs) from all products, having created a way to test for PFCs in our products. Garment manufacturers apply PFCs to garments to repel liquids and stains. However, research by organizations like the US Environmental Protection Agency has indicated a link between PFCs and damage to human health and wildlife. C&A Europe also introduced its first Global Organic Cotton Standard (GOTS) labelled babywear collection in 2015. This standard prohibits the use of toxic pesticides and promotes socially responsible manufacturing throughout the supply chain.
Our latest C&A Chemical Policy (RSL/MRSL) can be downloaded here.
C&A deeply regrets any instance where we have had to recall potentially unsafe products from the marketplace. We issued three voluntary product recalls in Europe during 2014 and 2015. The first occurred in June 2014, for red and pink baby jackets. We discovered the buttons on these jackets could, in exceptional cases, become loose, presenting a choking hazard.
In May 2015, we issued a voluntary product warning for a girls’ baby set (including skirt, T-shirt, and tights) as well as girls’ baby trousers. We also issued a product warning for another girls’ baby set because these outfits featured belts that could, in exceptional cases, separate into small parts, posing a choking hazard. We offered full refunds to anyone who had bought these clothes, and we know of no incidents of choking.
1The OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 is an independent testing and certification system for textile raw materials and intermediate and end products at all stages of production.