Kathmandu Addresses Supply Chain Issues With WeChat

April Davis By April Davis | 15 Nov 2018

The travel and outdoor adventure retailer has reportedly taken steps to improve workers’ conditions in its supply chain by using QR codes and popular Chinese social media platform, WeChat.

Kathmandu has made a commitment to sustainability in the past few years, with its seventh annual Sustainability Report revealing its latest efforts to improving the working conditions within its supply chain.

In a statement, the company said it has introduced a WeChat social media address that workers can access by scanning a QR code that is found on Chinese versions of the business’s code of conduct that’s displayed around Kathmandu factories. Through this, employees can reportedly make complaints and express their grievances in a safe space, which the company’s Corporate Responsibility Manager, Gary Shaw, says has made addressing issues in their supply chain much easier.

“We care about the welfare of every worker in our supply chain, but enabling people to raise issues about workplace practices and conditions was previously extremely difficult. In some cultures, it can be challenging to make a complaint, but the QR code has proved to be empowering. We can now receive messages directly from the workers making our products,” he said.

“We also have a Corporate Social Responsibility Specialist on the ground in China and when any issues arise, we work in partnership with our ethical sourcing partner, ELEVATE Limited, to implement a corrective action and improvement plan.”

Kathmandu’s social responsibility specialist has also been working on the ground in the retailer’s factories to provide staff training in internal grievance mechanisms, so problems can be addressed as they arise.

The outdoor adventure specialist has also reportedly received a high ranking for its use of sustainable materials, with the Textile Exchange ranking it as number two in the world. This result has been attributed to the business’s commitment to using 100 percent man-made cellulosics, which are made from a naturally occurring polymer, as well as the use of recycled cotton.

Kathmandu has been making headlines for positive reasons of late, with the company also reporting a net profit of $50.5 million for FY18 back in September.

At the time, the company attributed this strong growth to brand elevation and customer engagement strategies that have been implemented over the past 12 months, as well as an increase in its e-commerce and fulfilment capabilities.

“We were delighted to achieve record profits this year as we balanced sales growth with gross margin improvement,” Kathmandu’s Chief Executive, Xavier Simonet said.

“Sales growth was supported by the success of our key product groups, improved promotional execution, inspiring digital content, and an enhanced in-store customer experience. Top-line growth, combined with a focus on cost control, resulted in excellent profit growth.”

Some key achievements Kathmandu’s management team have highlighted include a 57 percent growth in social media reach, as the company’s global audience viewed the businesses social media videos more than 15 million times in FY18.

Through investment in its online and fulfilment capabilities, Kathmandu was able to increase its website traffic by 22 percent, leading to a 36 percent increase in online sales. Based on these results, online sales now make up 9.4 percent of the company’s total sales.

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