A big and, as it turns out, not uncontroversial step for Woolies, which has become the first major South African retailer to publish on its website a full and unabridged list of its Fashion, Beauty and Home products. “This is a significant step in our progress towards our Good Business Journey Vision 2025+ goals, and represents our commitment to a fully transparent, traceable and ethical supply chain across our operations,” explains Group Head of Sourcing Lawrence Pillay. Fair enough, but who’s on the list? It turns out the lion’s share of business goes to China, which houses most of the factories from which Woolies sources its impahla. Others are located in South Africa, India, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Pakistan, eSwatini and Madagascar – although no David Jones or Country Road merchandise comes from the motherland. Other significant goals include that all private label fashion and home products be designed to be reused, repaired, re-purposed or recycled by 2025, that energy usage comes from renewable sources by 2030, and that net zero carbon emissions be achieved by 2040.
Comment: A bold move, which paints a less flattering picture of Woolies’ procurement practices than it undoubtedly will in say three or four years.