Our Supply Chain
HOW DO WE MAKE SURE OUR SUPPLIERS SHARE OUR VALUES?
Our code of conduct, The FatFace Way of Life, forms the foundation of our relationships with suppliers and factories. It lets them know what we expect when it comes to working conditions and business practices. All of our new suppliers and factories have to declare that they understand and will follow the requirements.
To check that they are living out these values, we ensure that all factories have an ethical audit every year. New factories have to share one before we’ll place orders and once they’re part of our supply chain, they’re required to share an annual semi-announced or unannounced ethical audit.
WHAT IS AN ETHICAL AUDIT?
Ethical audits are on-site assessments of factories to get a view on a range of different things relating to working conditions. We use the Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) format to do this.
While they’re at a factory, auditors will make observations, review documentation and interview workers to check areas such as pay, working hours, fire safety and the use of personal protective equipment. Their report tells us, and the factory, about the things they are good at and areas they might need to improve on. We then work with the factory to make any necessary changes based on the audit recommendations.
IS AUDITING ENOUGH?
Having a robust auditing programme is a really important foundation to our work, but we go beyond this in a few ways. We have our own verification assessments at key sites, which give factories detailed guidance on how to achieve meaningful changes in working conditions. Our assessment partners establish good working relationships with factory managers and lend them their expertise to achieve improvements in sometimes complex issues. More recently, we have tested our root cause analysis approach. This gives factories an understanding of why particular issues are happening in the first place. We know that if the root cause can be addressed, an issue is far less likely to occur again.
We also know that supply chain challenges cannot be resolved in isolation. So we’re active members of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI). This enables us to collaborate with other buying companies operating in our factories or markets, some of whom might be our direct competitors. We know that improving working conditions is not a commercial or competitive issue so we work together to achieve improvements. Through the ETI we also have access to tried and tested methods of resolving some of the challenges in our sourcing countries.
All these steps ensure that we have a robust approach to resolving issues and preventing modern slavery and human rights abuses within our business and supply chains. Read more about FatFace's approach to auditing here.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR FATFACE?
We are really proud of the work we do to improve the working conditions in our factories but we want to do more. Work is already underway to improve our own buying practices through the Better Buying Initiative. This is a review system set up for suppliers to provide anonymous feedback to brands about practices that are working well and those that need improvement, without risking their business relationship. Using the feedback, our buyers, designers and merchandisers can work to make improvements.
In addition, by 2025 we will:
- Prioritise our buying decisions to favour suppliers who go above and beyond responsible sourcing standards.
- Publicly disclose our first-tier product supply chain.
- Continue to train and educate our people on responsible buying practices.