Enhance customer engagement
Cotton is the main fibre used for over 60% of C&A’s products. In 2004, C&A made a commitment to steadily increase the use of sustainably grown cotton in its product lines. The company saw this as an opportunity to improve the sustainability of cotton production practices among farmers in its supply chain while at the same time enhance its customer engagement and brand equity.
In 2009, in partnership with Textile Exchange and the Shell Foundation, C&A created CottonConnect, a social enterprise that supports farmers and retailers to increase the production and use of sustainable cotton. In 2014, C&A was the largest purchaser of organic cotton globally and one of the largest retailers of organic cotton apparel through its Bio Cotton range of products. This range constitutes roughly 40% of its overall cotton product sales and the company has the 2020 goal of achieving 100% sustainable cotton in all its cotton products. While C&A chose to price its sustainable cotton collections the same as its regular collections, organic cotton products sell faster and price markdowns are lower, which creates a higher gross margin for the company.
For farmers, the benefits include lower costs of production, reduced reliance on traditional intermediaries, and crops with higher resilience to climate change. However, to increase the number of participating farmers, financial incentives need to be created that compensate for the short-term loss of yield during the transition period as well as investments that further enhance crop productivity, such as high-performing organic seeds. The C&A Foundation works closely with the company and in collaboration with NGOs and governments to address some of these larger challenges.
Home page image: REUTERS/Nour Fourat