It was the moment the lid was lifted on an issue many would have preferred to have kept hidden away.
When Burberry, the high-end British fashion brand with a global reputation for excellence, admitted burning unsold clothes, accessories and perfume worth £28.6m it exposed a common but little known practice which plagues a wide range of manufacturing industries.
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, have opted to slash and burn rather than risk selling on excess stock on the cheap.
The wastage and subsequent environmental damage has been almost incalculable. Burberry alone admitted burning £90m worth of stock in five years. They are far from alone.
As the world grapples with the clear and present danger presented by climate change and accepts consumer behaviour must change to deliver a sustainable future, a renewed focus has fallen on finding ways to deliver secondary growth within a circular economy.
In June 2019, the French government passed a law effectively outlawing the practice of destroying overstock. From 2023 French retailers and manufacturers will be legally obliged to donate, reuse, or recycle unsold goods in a move aimed at overturning the current practice of destroying unsold consumer products. That practice is currently estimated to see around one trillion dollars-worth of unused stock disposed of each year.
This is a global problem with global consequences.
The question for the world’s premium brands is; how to reduce waste and limit environmental impact while simultaneously protecting market position and maximising profitability?
More and more brands are turning to online marketplaces for the answer. buyfair.global is at the vanguard of delivering a premium business-to-business solution for brands possessing excess stock who do not simply want to sell it at cost price to TK Max.
A multi-lot auction site which enables brands to control where they sell their excess stock while enabling buyer’s access to high volumes of premium product at discounted rates provides a win for sellers and a win for buyers.
While dramatically reducing the amount of excess stock being incinerated or buried, it also provides a win for the environment and the circular economy needed for a sustainable future.
The days of excess stock being wasted on an industrial scale could be behind us. That can only be good for business and the planet.
By Sam Peters (in-house editor)