Overstock is a perfectly good unsold end-of-season product of which many brands don’t know how to shift.
For decades brands have wrestled with the question of what to do with their excess stock. Publicise it to sell and risk devaluing the brand while reducing profitability or stay quiet and face product mountains in warehouses and wastage on a huge scale. We want to lift the lid on this trillion-dollar industry few consumers even know about.
Over the past 20 years, many brands have decided to move production to the Far East because of cheaper mass production. Companies demanding growth, end up purchasing in enormous batches. As a result, the product becomes difficult to shift, increases warehouse costs and tying up capital. Many brands think there is no other option resulting in product being disposed of through destroying, burning and dumping as they think there is no alternative.
The scale of overstock across every retail-related industry is worth hundreds of billions of pounds, £5 billion of which is in the UK alone.
Not many people have heard of the wastage and subsequent environmental damage that is already being caused by premium brands, desperate to avoid their products flooding markets or being sold at rock-bottom prices, and in doing so potentially terminally devaluing the brand.
Burberry alone admitted burning £90m worth of stock in five years.
Over the last two years, Cartier has bought back about $575 million worth of watches from retail partners to avoid having the timepieces sold more cheaply. Most were destroyed.
However, it’s not just the high-end brands who are having to dispose of stock due to worries of diminishing brand identity.
H&M alone was reported in March 2018 to have $4.3 billion worth of unsold clothes.
This comes from the rise in fast-fashion. Demands in growth, increased pressure to reduce costs and speed up production mean that environmental corners are being cut.
While conducting a recent inventory management assessment for a client, F. Curtis Barry & Company found that 60,000 sq. ft. of 360,000 sq. ft. - 16.6% of the distribution centre space - was storing slow moving inventory.
This is how we began.
On the 24th June 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU. Within a matter of days, many retailers started cancelling orders with MAKE International, my other global ceramics brand. They were concerned about the economic conditions post-Brexit. Suddenly there wasn’t an outlet for some of our best-selling items creating a stock mountain in our warehouse and increasing our warehousing costs dramatically.
It made me think, why are we making so much stuff all the time, if we can’t even shift last year's collections - the environmental impact is just too high.
I soon realised we weren't the only company experiencing these problems, a solution was needed and so buyfair was born.
The solution is simple - buyfair, a platform for overstock. buyfair connects buyers and sellers on a level playing field, creating better value on all side.
The idea grew from a simple, necessary business solution, to a great, sustainable idea. The world has changed, we are now acutely aware of the climate crisis. If we can help by re-purposing existing stock out there, then we are making a positive contribution.
The world is facing a global overstock crisis with global consequences. Buyfair is on a mission to rethink, reduce and repurpose overstock to create a more sustainable future.