Ethical Trading Initiative
Kickers is an iconic footwear brand that has gained fame in the ‘80s and ‘90s by its popularity in pop culture and the music industry. Kickers is currently owned by British Pentland Group, a global fashion company that owns about twelve brands. The group publishes a yearly sustainability report that covers all of these brands. Unfortunately, this report doesn’t offer much relevant information. It remains largely unknown where the company’s materials originate. The company states to work with bluesign and Oeko-Tex to responsibly manage chemicals, but doesn’t offer any information about what materials it’s using in its production process. Whether the company uses more sustainable materials like organic cotton or any recycled materials, remains unknown and suggests that these percentages are very low. It does state that 60% of its current materials are sourced from preferred suppliers, which is a very generic statement. On sourcing of animal materials, the company states that it uses leather, down and feathers in line with industry best practices and that it’s a member of the Leather Working Group. But actual percentages of certified versus non-certified material are not specified, which raises concerns about animal welfare in its supply chain. The company is not oblivious to climate action and has a target for cutting emissions by 25% by 2025 and aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. But because Pentland Group doesn’t report on supply chain emissions and current environmental performance, it seems very far away from achieving this goal. It does report that JD Sports, its sports and shoes retailer, performs well on the Carbon Disclosure Project, but doesn’t provide relevant information for its entire operations. The reporting style of the company is very fragmented and seems to cherry-pick the positives from each brand, leaving out factual information of its entire operations, which is frankly unfair and not transparent. What we can tell is that Pentland Group has adopted the Higg Module in 13% of its factories, which is a start to measuring and improving environmental performance of its factories and an important step towards calculating its carbon footprint. Pentland Group is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative, which conducts independent audits for the company, and has partnered with ACT to improve living wages in its supply chain. Despite these memberships, the lack of transparency continues in its reporting about social audits. The company states it conducted 104 audits in 2018, sixteen of which were conducted by Better Work. Who conducted the other 88 audits is unspecified. Because the company only publishes its tier 1 supplier list, which yields 188 results, it appears that there’s a part of completely unaudited factories in its supply chain. Pentland Group does share the results of the conducted audits and from the 104 conducted audits it identified 21 zero tolerance issues in 2018 and 31% of instances were classified as critical. The culmination of these facts raises serious concerns about labor rights in the company’s supply chain. Pentland Group does make an effort to give back to communities and gives at least 1% of net profits after taxes to charities each year, which is great, but there are currently some serious concerns about how the company operates. We hope more transparency and more improvements are made in 2020.