Sustainability - Doing Things Properly

Since starting this business three decades ago (and putting my middle names to it), I have only ever wanted to help men to dress well and to sleep well at night. Doing things “properly” has always been important to me.

It’s not enough for this business to thrive, it has to do so responsibly. To be a business that matters, that has integrity, and does the right thing. It is about making products properly and sustainably, making our business work for our employees, suppliers, and customers, and above all making sure we care passionately about the impact we have on our planet, so that our planet can look after us.

Doing things properly applies equally to our product, our people and our planet. We must never forget that we can only build our business one person at a time.

Doing things properly is something I’ve cared about deeply about since the beginning. As I get older and perhaps even a little wiser, we are now doubly committed to this philosophy for the next 35 and beyond. I am very excited to find out what we can achieve together.

Nick Wheeler OBE
Founder, Charles Tyrwhitt

PRODUCT

PEOPLE

PLANET

We’ve made great headway in achieving some of our ambitions across our three pillars of product, people and planet, but we know there’s always more to do. Keep reading to find out more.

PROPER PRODUCT, MADE PROPERLY

We will always offer a top-quality product that’s made to last. But that doesn’t stop us striving to make that product even better. As part of an industry that is a large contributor of pollution in the world, we know we have a responsibility to be part of the solution - not the problem.

It’s a painful truth that the production of garments contributes significantly to environmental pollution including water, air, and soil. With that in mind, we know that taking sustainability seriously means thinking beyond what goes on within Charles Tyrwhitt itself but what’s happening across our whole supply chain.

Therefore, we are committed to making sure sustainability is at the heart of what we do and that the suppliers who manufacture our materials and product are as conscious, ethical and responsible about their environmental and social impact as we are.

You can read our full Ethical Trading Policy here and Modern Slavery Statement here.

QUALITY PRODUCT, MADE TO LAST

We’re already working to make sure our product is the best and most sustainable it can be, from the introduction of sustainable fibres and yarns to reducing wastage at every step of the production process. For example, the washing of our shirts is done in a special machine that uses just a single cup of water! Our industry-leading six-month guarantee also highlights the quality and longevity of every single garment that we make.

When it comes to developing our products we’re determined to find ways to be less harmful to the environment too. That’s why where possible we are removing the need for physical sampling and the associated harm it can cause. Instead we are aiming to use digital sampling for 30% of our relevant products with the ambition to expand that to 50% in the near future. We’re also looking into alternative production methods like digital printing to reduce wastage.

OUR SUPPLY CHAIN

We’re working hard behind the scenes to make sure sustainability extends right through our supply chain. Every year Tyrwhitteers from our product teams travel to meet with our suppliers. We inspect the factories that produce our garments, meet the people who make them and ensure our ethical standards are being achieved.

All of our suppliers conform to the EU's REACH regulations which ensure no harmful chemicals are used in the production process. However, we wanted to go even further and dig deeper into the source of all the materials used in our garments to ensure ethical practices and transparency are core values throughout our entire supply chain as well as at Charles Tyrwhitt.

We’re already following guidance issued by the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) but we want do everything we can to ensure that sustainability runs through our whole operation, right down to suppliers on the other side of the world.

Our ultimate goal is to achieve a virtuous product lifecycle with minimum waste, and the establishment of a 100% transparent and certified supply chain. That means taking our auditing process a step further, so as well as auditing fabric and yarn suppliers, we will extend that process to cover our component suppliers (that’s labels, fusing, buttons and packaging).

WE GIVE A SHIRT

When it comes to our people, we really do ‘give a shirt’. Work can, and should be, a force for good. Our focus on people goes far beyond those in our direct employ and extends throughout our supply chain. We believe everyone is entitled to fair working practices and in line with this belief, we will continue to follow the ETI (Ethical Trading Initiative) guidance. We do not, and will not, offer zero hours contracts and have committed to promote flexible working as a benefit for all.

Our ambition is to become one of THE best companies to work for, delivering continuous improvement year on year in terms of social value (the way we give back to society through charity partnerships and social actions). Our work in this area extends to our suppliers and we will ensure our supply chain meets these ethical standards.

You can read our full Ethical Trading Policy here and Modern Slavery Statement here.

“Over the last four years we have donated over £370,000 to The Prince’s Trust.”

OUR PEOPLE

Within our own company we are committed to battling bias and unfairness. We hire, promote and appraise colleagues based purely on their performance and potential in line with our closely-held value of: ‘I am Proud and Free to be Me’. Details on our commitment to Gender Pay can also be found in our annual Gender Pay Reports here. We have a range of initiatives in place to ensure that our Tyrwhitteers’ wellbeing and happiness is embedded in our company and take part in the "Sunday Times Top 100 Best Companies to Work For" on an annual basis in order to help us gather feedback.

One of our other values is ‘BE the best’ which is all about people reaching their full potential. As part of our commitment to this, we offer numerous apprenticeship opportunities across the business and we had 30+ colleagues start apprenticeships with us over the last two years.

GIVING SOMETHING BACK

When it comes to giving something back through charitable means, we’re very proud to support The Prince’s Trust. Over the last four years we have donated over £370,000 in an effort to help young people everywhere achieve. Additionally, our pioneering partnership isn’t just about handing over cash - it also sees us offer our time, expertise and support to help create opportunities for disadvantaged young people.

In addition to supporting The Prince's Trust, we give back to those less fortunate than us in a number of other ways. Colleagues based at our distribution centre regularly fundraise and volunteer with Willen Hospice, one of the best loved charities in Milton Keynes and the surrounding area and close to the hearts of many because of the compassionate, personal end of life care provided to some of our colleagues. We have supported the hospice for many years and through various fundraising initiatives have donated over £100,000.

We also donate unsaleable stock regularly to charities, New Life and Willen Hospice. Any excess material left over from alterations is also donated to a local childcare nursery who use it for activities with the children. In addition, once they are no longer needed, fabric swatches used by our buying/design team are donated to Project Linus UK, a volunteer organisation which make quilts for sick, disabled or disadvantaged children across the UK.

OUR SUPPLY CHAIN

Our ethical operation extends beyond our own company and runs through our whole supply chain. We have a zero-tolerance approach to exploitation of any kind and work closely with our suppliers to drive improvements in working conditions around the world.

As part of that commitment, we’re already conducting audits for all of our fabric and yarn suppliers, which includes the way they treat their people. The next step is to extend that to audits for all our component suppliers such as labels, buttons, packaging and more, to ensure that every person who makes up the extended Charles Tyrwhitt family is treated right.

WORK EXPERIENCE AND INTERNSHIPS

Starting a career can be a difficult time. We hear countless stories of young people coming out of university with good results only to find that they can't get a job. These graduates find themselves in a Catch 22 situation where they don't have experience as they haven't had a job, yet can't get a job because they don't have experience. We believe Charles Tyrwhitt is a great place to learn so we offer opportunities to undergraduates looking to get their foot on the career ladder.

We partner with Westminster University and each year offer a paid placement to students in our Buying and Merchandising teams. This experience gives them valuable skills and practical understanding needed for a permanent role when they graduate.

Some young people struggle to meet their potential at university - not because they don't have the skills or ability but because they don't have the support, guidance and connections that their peers may have. We also partner with the charity Into University which aims to empower and inspire young people with university aspirations. Our founder Nick regularly gives seminars about entrepreneurship and as a business we offer both an annual work placement and career guidance sessions to help students advance their careers. We will continue to create as many opportunities for young people as we can, leveraging initiatives such as the Kickstart scheme in the near future.

DO IT FOR THE PLANET

As long as we’re around, we have a duty to make a positive difference to the world around us. That means committing wholeheartedly to doing our bit to combat climate change and looking after our planet for future generations.

With that in mind, we’re going beyond sustainable product development, recycling more and getting rid of single-use plastic, and constantly looking for ways to be kinder to our planet.

"We have reduced our CO2 emissions by 600 tonnes a year."

PRODUCT PACKAGING

After years of hard work behind the scenes, we’re proud to have completely eliminated single-use plastic from our shirt packaging. The bag our products are mailed in are made from 100% biodegradable sugar cane oil and because they are lighter, they also save us 650 tonnes of CO2 a year in shipping. All of our other product packaging is now made from recycled materials and/or recyclable.

CARBON FOOTPRINT REPORTING

Our commitment to the future of our planet is long-term, shown through our decision to sign up with Planet Mark, an internationally-recognised sustainability certification for business. Ultimately, we want Charles Tyrwhitt to become a completely carbon-neutral business, with single-use plastic removed from every aspect of our operation and recycling a real way of life in the way we work.

We’ve already started on this journey and are proud to have been awarded the Planet Mark Year 1 Business Certification. In this crucial #DecadeofAction, measuring our own carbon footprint has been a critical step in reducing our impact on the planet and society. The certification acknowledges continuous progress, encouraging action and building an empowered community of like-minded individuals. Working with Planet Mark, our ambition is to reduce our carbon footprint by 5% year-on-year by taking direct action on the areas we control. Where we can’t reduce our carbon emissions we will look to offset our impact and make ourselves carbon neutral.

Our commitment to Planet Mark doesn’t stop there. We’re also helping the Eden Project – an educational charity building connections with each other and the living world, exploring how we can work together towards a better future. Through Planet Mark we have also protected an area of endangered rainforest thanks to Cool Earth, a charity working alongside rainforest communities to halt deforestation. Our pledge through Cool Earth goes directly towards supporting the Asháninka community in Central Peru.

By becoming Planet Mark certified and continuing to work on every aspect of sustainability within our business, we hope not only to make a difference but to empower our community to join us in this journey.

RECYCLE

Since our products are made to last, there’s no reason they should go in the bin when our customers have finished using them. That’s why we’ve launched an in-store shirt recycling scheme to make sure preloved shirts can be reused for their full life span. In the future we hope to offer a similar recycling programme across our other product areas too.

For products that are returned but are no longer in a re-saleable condition, we hold regular staff sales and donate the money raised to charity. In extreme circumstances where garments have come to the end of their life, they are incinerated for residual dry fuels.

All of these initiatives to recycle stock and samples mean we can proudly say that CT garments and fabric never go to landfill.

We also go one step further to help our customers recycle. Did you know that our paper bags are made of recycled material and are recyclable? All our customer has to do is remove the cord handles and the bag can be popped into any paper/card recycling bin. We give full instructions explaining this so everyone knows just what to do.

OFFICE INCENTIVES

We believe anything that can be recycled should be recycled and have committed to doing all we can to ensure this is the case. At CT we provide everyone with the opportunity to dispose of their rubbish responsibly and we are also actively trying to reduce the amount of plastic we use across all of our locations.

We have a strict no company car policy and to help reduce emissions we offer both a cycle to work scheme and a season ticket loan to our office-based employees, encouraging the use of public transport wherever possible.