The UK-based retail chain Marks & Spencer plans to hike over 12-fold its cotton sourcing from India in three years to 64,000 metric tonnes.
This will be equivalent to its current overall global consumption.
For the purpose, the retailer will increase the number of farmers associated with it to 25,000 from 9,000 at present.
“Currently we have partnerships with 9,000 cotton farmers at Warangal in Andhra Pradesh. We want to increase the number to 25,000 in three years, by when we will be sourcing 64,000 metric tonnes of cotton, which is equivalent to our current total global usage,” Marks & Spencer (M&S) head of sustainable business Mike Barry told PTI.
At present M&S sources 5,000 metric tonnes of cotton annually from India, he said.
The move is part of the company’s ‘Plan A’, which aims to make M&S the world’s most sustainable major retailer by 2015, Barry said, adding in the next 12 months the firm would be charting out an India-specific strategy for the same.
“What we are aiming to do is to reduce water and pesticide usage by farmers, while improving their profitability,” he said, adding the company would not expand its base of cotton farmers beyond Andhra Pradesh.
As part of its sustainability programme, Barry said the company is also increasing sourcing of clothing from India for selling in the country to reduce the environmental impact of its logistics chain.
“As of today 61 per cent of the clothing sold in India is sourced here, which was 55 per cent last year,” Barry said, adding the aim was to take it higher.
M&S is also focussing on taking along its vendors in its sustainable business strategy and plans to replicate in India some of the steps it has taken up in Bangladesh to uplift the environmental and social standards of factories.
“In Bangladesh we have been able to address issues such as increasing the minimum legal wage for workers but at the same time make the factories profitable by making them more productive and focussing on other areas including becoming more energy efficient,” he added.
Barry said M&S will also be implementing a sustainable business model across its 24 stores in India.
The company’s Delhi store is already a holder of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold standard, while the Mumbai store has a silver standard developed by the US Green Building Council.
“Our aim is to align all our stores in India with the environment-friendly and sustainable business strategy, which we are carrying out across our global operations,” Barry said.