Responsibility in Stockmann's Supply Chain – Product’s journey from design to sales
Commitment to responsible operations is a key part of Stockmann's values and daily operations. In our operations, sustainability work covers the entire value chain, starting with design and quality material selection, and continuing with close supplier cooperation in the supply chain.
Responsible, transparent and traceable supply chain is one of the key priorities of Stockmann's responsibility work, and responsibility aspects are taken into account at every stage of Stockmann's own brands’ product supply chain. This is shown, for example, so that Stockmann requires all suppliers to bind Stockmann policy or to show their commitment to other similar operational principles, favors long-term relationships with suppliers and perform as well as their own controls independent of the controls of the third-party plants. In addition, Stockmann's goal is to increase the share of responsible materials in its own brand products, to avoid overproduction by carefully monitoring the sales of products, and to reduce the amount of plastic used in product packaging with clear packaging instructions.
We want to communicate transparently about responsibility issues. All of Stockmann's own brand products are marked with the country of manufacture, which allows us to tell where the product was made. On our website, we regularly publish a list of Stockmann's suppliers and factories of fashion, accessories and home products.
Stockmann's A+more brand products combine quality with practicality
Designer Laura Kupari-Guise and Brand Manager Ulrika Hedman are behind the Stockmann's own brand A+more. A+more's extensive range includes bags, scarves, hats, gloves and sunglasses. Around 600 new products are designed each year, and new products are launched throughout the year.
“The attractiveness of A+more products comes from practicality. We pay close attention to details and the products are designed to last for time and use”, says Laura Kupari-Guise.
The product design process begins with a collection meeting where future trends and product sales are reviewed. Each product group has its own meeting, as product groups are manufactured in different countries and factories. For example, leather products are manufactured in India and most of the knitwear in Italy. The journey of A+more products from design to sales takes about 6 months to one year, depending on the country of manufacture and product type. Creating a new collection starts with the most demanding products, such as handbags.
A+more has been awarded the Design from Finland label for high-quality Finnish expertise and design.
Laura and Ulrika pay special attention to the quality of the materials used in the design. Natural materials such as wool and silk are preferred. They choose warm and high quality yarns for knitwear. There are certificates for materials used in A+more products, such as merino and alpaca wool.
“We follow the developments in the industry and use recycling materials such as recycled polyester, wool and cotton. In leather gloves we use chromium-free leather, and the bags come in vegetable-tanned leather”, says Ulrika.
Laura chooses scarves.
Close co-operation with purchasing offices and factories
Stockmann has five local purchasing offices in China (Shanghai and Hong Kong), Bangladesh, India and Turkey where Laura and Ulrika visit several times a year. Purchasing offices play a key role in developing working conditions and identifying risks. It is the responsibility of the employees of the purchasing offices to control purchasing and production and to inspect the operating methods of each factory before placing orders. After the initial inspection, systematic responsibility work will be continued.
When traveling, Laura and Ulrika meet suppliers, choose colors and materials for orders and visit factory visits. In January, the A+more team traveled to India, during which they visited Stichwell Leather Bag Factory in Calcutta and Stockmann's local purchasing office and supplier in New Delhi.
“For us, these trips are really important, because we can't really choose the prints and materials for the designs solely based on the pictures,” Ulrika says.
A visit to Stockmann's Indian purchasing office in New Delhi. From left to right: Office Manager Parul Parti, Designer Laura Kupari-Guise, Brand Manager Ulrika Hedman and Merchandiser Rajat Arora.
Laura and Ulrika are in touch with the suppliers almost daily. They get samples of each product and comment on the colors and patterns to the suppliers. Before going into production, they check that the production samples are correct. They also order samples from suppliers for marketing purposes.
“We spend a great deal of time commenting and checking the products. We look at the products many times and comment on different things, such as the amount of support fabrics. We are constantly going through buttons, zippers and etc. The whole product must be equally durable and of good quality so that it does not break”, says Laura. "I create separate care labels on specialty materials, such as recycled material and cashmere, about the properties and care of the material."
Indian factories produce A+more leather products, such as bags.
Laura says that for many people it may come as a surprise how much handcraft is in the manufacturing process of leather products made in India. There is a generation change in India regarding the craftsmanship, which is reflected in the fact that crafts are no longer in the hands of many.
“Employers really adhere very well to skilled craftsmen. They do not want to lose them to their competitors, so they will invest more in working conditions”, says Laura. “Stockmann follows closely with the local authorities in India the actions of the factories.”
For over 20 years, Stockmann has been cooperating with the Stichwell mill.
Photos: Guilherme Guise
Read more about the journey to India on the Pupulandia blog written by Jenni Rotonen (in Finnish). For more information on Stockmann's product supply chain, please visit our website and our CSR report. You can find A+more products at all Stockmann department stores and stockmann.com.