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Sustainability a prime concern at Pierre Robert Group

Jeanette Hauan Fladby (in the middle) visits one of Pierre Robert Group's Chinese suppliers.

Jeanette Hauan Fladby (in the middle) visits one of Pierre Robert Group's Chinese suppliers.

Orkla has developed a sustainability strategy with ambitious goals for the period up to 2020.

In this connection, we spoke with Jeanette Hauan Fladby, CEO at Pierre Robert Group, about their focus on sustainability.

Why is sustainability important?

“The choices we make today will have a major impact on future generations. As a leading supplier of underwear to grocery chains, we must promote high standards and quality criteria in the textile industry. It is an industry with significant challenges, but also considerable potential for improvement. This applies in particular to low-cost countries, where much of our production is located. In those areas we can make a difference and contribute to positive change,” Ms Hauan Fladby said.

In 2014, Pierre Robert Group drew up a comprehensive sustainability strategy with ambitious goals. The strategy contains a number of measures to be implemented in the period up to 2020.

“Consideration for sustainability will be incorporated into every aspect of our innovation and production process, and will be an even larger, more explicit part of our business operations,” Ms. Hauan Fladby emphasised.

What results did you achieve in 2014?

“Among other things, we introduced country of origin labelling on all our products. In addition to stating the country of production, the label on all our wool garments shows that the wool is mulesing-free and provides information on the country of origin of the wool itself. Even though this is not required by law, we think that this information is useful to consumers, and it is a step towards greater industry transparency,” says Ms Hauan Fladby.

“We have made a choice to avoid using suppliers in countries that pose particular challenges, where conditions are too bad, and where our possibilities of exerting influence on or monitoring conditions are too limited.”

Pierre Robert Group’s suppliers are required to meet stringent ethical standards, and in 2014 25 audits were carried out at factory level. Representatives of Pierre Robert Group also visited 17 factories operated by current suppliers, and nine factories operated by potential new suppliers.

“We seek to maintain long-term relationships with our suppliers. This creates greater security for all concerned, and makes it easier for us to retain control of the production process. Around 30% of our suppliers have worked with us for 11 years or more, and we have collaborated with 86% of our suppliers for 3 years or more.”

What are you most proud of?

“Our buyers make regular trips to visit suppliers, and in 2014 I was fortunate enough to be able to accompany them to China. I was extremely impressed by the factories and their focus on EHS, working conditions and quality assurance procedures, and by their efforts to minimise their energy and water consumption. The work we do in selecting and following up on our suppliers in accordance with our code of conduct makes me very proud.”

Pierre Robert Group also focuses on visiting subcontractors to obtain a more detailed picture of its supplier chain. These enterprises include spinning mills, textile, packaging or accessory manufacturers and other similar factories.

“Accountability and sound values form the basis for all our decisions and choices, but there is always room for improvement. In 2014, we drew up a comprehensive sustainability strategy. The strategy comprises a range of measures to be carried out in the years up to 2020. Consideration for sustainability is to be incorporated into every aspect of our innovation and production process and will be an even larger, more explicit part of our business operations,” she concludes.

About the company

  • Pierre Robert Group (PRG) owns the Pierre Robert and La Mote brands, and is Norway’s biggest supplier of underwear and tights for men, women and children to the grocery sector.
  • All the garments are designed by a Scandinavian design team in Oslo. PRG attaches great importance to quality, and monitors the quality of its products, EHS and the sustainability of its suppliers’ operations very closely.
  • The company has 220 employees in Norway and Sweden, and operating revenues totalled NOK 518 million in 2013.