Cotton On Group (the Group) has received international recognition for Responsible Retailer Initiative of the Year, through its sustainable cotton program in Kwale County, Kenya.
The Group received the accolade at the 2019 World Retail Awards, as part of the 13th World Retail Congress held in Amsterdam.
The World Retail Awards celebrate retailers driving innovation and dynamism that are having a truly global impact on the retail sector.
The Responsible Retailer Initiative of the Year shortlist featured renowned retailers from the world including Allbirds, Galeries Lafayette, Eileen Fisher and TJX.
This important and highly-coveted award honours retailers that demonstrate they are outstanding corporate citizens, through ongoing high-standards but also distinctive and effective initiative undertaken in the last 18 months.
The Group launched the Kenya Cotton Program in 2014, in partnership with Business For Development, Base Titanium and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The program aims to improve the livelihoods of the Kwale community, by increasing agricultural productivity in the region and creating a pathway out of poverty.
Since its inception, the program has been the catalyst for major economic activity, employment and social development in the region, so much so the Kenya Government has announced plans to replicate the model nationally.
The program launched with only 15 farmers and today more than 2,500 farmers are engaged, with 10,000 farmers to be supported by 2020.
Kenyan farmers have produced more than 700 tonnes of lint to be converted into approximately two million t-shirts, with 25 per cent to be sold through the Group.
Beyond this initiative, the Group was recognised for its Ethical Sourcing program established in 2009, including 14 rules to trade which governs the sourcing, manufacturing and supply of products across its global supply chain.
The Group is working towards the goal of 100 per cent supply chain traceability.
Bernie Brooks, former CEO of Edcon and Myer, and grand jury judge of the World Congress Awards, congratulated the company.
“The Responsible Retailer of the Year award is one of the most prestige awards at the World Retail Congress. Dominated by companies such as Woolworths South Africa and Body Shop in the UK, it’s great to see an Australian company awarded for its significant success and impact overseas.
“The success of the Cotton On Group this year for its commitment to the sustainable use of cotton in Kenya, including its contribution to the industry through partnership with farms, was a standout.”
Cotton On Group CFO Michael Hardwick said the company is committed to the cause.
“Over the last 27 years, we have developed our business through being resourceful and finding a better way. We’re committed to conducting businesses ethically and sustainably, and this has resulted in a number of ongoing projects impacting people, communities and the planet.”
“The Kenya Cotton program is an output of this. We’re proud to make a genuine contribution to improve the livelihood of cotton farmers and help reduce the impact of cotton farming on environments."