Mr Horlock, please tell us how Intertek helps the organizations in Textiles, Apparel & Footwear sector?
Intertek is one of the top three global players in the global compliance sector. We basically offer testing , inspection, audit and training services, to ensure products meet their defined regulatory and safety requirements, quality specifications, social, ethical and environmental requirements. For more than 100 years, companies around the world have depended on Intertek to ensure the quality and safety of their products, processes and systems.
In textile sector we are largest global provider from quality assurance services consisting of pre-shipment inspections, factory assessments to qualify suppliers and testing of product to regulatory and quality standards. In that, we consider testing for performance characteristic such as wear, shrinkages, washability, color fastness, strength test and measurements for size and fit. For safety characteristics we look as such things as chemicals, residues or heavy metals used in any textile or footwear article and flammability for sleepware.
The biggest share of our consumer products business is from textile, apparel and footwear sector.
Over the years CSR has become part and parcel of Sustainable business. How far is this statement true?
I think this statement is very true because if we look back some years back, the definition of quality was very much limited to physical properties, functionality and price. But for the market today customers are becoming more concerned about social and environmental issues. Brands are sourced internationally and in doing so have more exposure to reputational risk in the supply chain associated with traceability, social, environmental and security issues.
Consumers and media are becoming better educated and will keep brands more accountable for the integrity of their supply chains.. They want to know; what impact these products have on the lives of the people who make them such as work conditions, health and safety, wages etc; With regards to the environment, is the factory meeting its regulatory obligations, minimizing pollution, recycling, using renewable raw material and energy, reducing its carbon footprint and so forth.
We have seen the proliferation of such social, environmental and ethical supply chain traceability issues in the Agri-food industry where we now have programs like Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) which focuses on sustainable forest production, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) which looks at sustainable fisheries. We have Organic Certification, Dolphin Safe Tuna, Genetically Modified Organisms, Global GAP -Good Agriculture Practices which looks at responsible farming in context of the safe usage of pesticides or herbicides and fertilizers.
With such traceability challenges, we cannot just test products to find out if they are environmentally responsible, socially responsible or is this dolphin safe tuna, or is this organic cotton. We also have to validate this claim / notion by way of process assessments.
These concerns are what we classify as ‘Reputational risks’. Big brands and retailers are very concerned about their brand image which takes years to get established, but can be destroyed over night by negative reputational risk.
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.