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Selfridges Updates Project Earth Goals after Successful Two-Year Implementations

Published September 8, 2022
Published September 8, 2022

Back in 2020, Selfridges committed to its sustainability strategy with Project Earth, an ambitious outline for its in-store, buying, corporate training, and customer engagement strategies—outlined under the categories of Materials, Models, and Mindsets. “In creating our store of tomorrow we must commit to a fundamental shift in the way that we do business and use the Selfridges platform for change. Our vision is to reinvent retail and create a more sustainable future, and Project Earth and our new targets underpin this,” comments Selfridges Managing Director Andrew Keith.

24 months later, has the retailer been able to follow through on its pledges? The results are in, with the company publishing its outcomes in a bid to encourage corporate transparency and stay on track with its outlined goals, and adjusting them where necessary. BeautyMatter rounded up the facts present and future-facing below.

Key points include:

  • The company’s Project Earth Edit, which features 1,221 brands and 55,000 labeled products, accounted for 12% of all own-bought sales in the last year. Sales increased by 71% from £52 million in 2020 to £89 million in 2021.
  • Pre-owned item sales through Reselfridges saw a 240% increase since 2020.  In 2021, more than 17,000 pre-loved items were sold, 2.5x more than in the previous year.
  • 8,000 refills were sold (Selfridges offers 900 different refillables and 1,000 refills from 48 brands) and 28,000 product repairs were facilitated.
  • 950 of its 4,900 suppliers have completed Selfridges’ sustainability assessment to date.
  • 100% renewable gas and electricity now power all Selfridges stores.
  • The company saw a 13% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions from 2018-2021.
  • In addition to its pre-existing commitments for 10 materials like cotton and leather (but also including non-clothing items such as cocoa, wood, meat, and forest fibers), Selfridges has added polyester and nylon to its 2025 material transformation roadmap. These materials have to fulfill specific ethical and sustainable sourcing requirements in order to be stocked at the retailer.
  • Upon going through its own products in the beginning of its material overhaul, Selfridges states that 33% lacked relevant composition information to accurately classify them on a sustainability scale. They recently completed a proof of concept for a material information tool with digital wholesale and technology partner, JOOR, for every fashion product entering the retailer’s doors.
  • For employees, fertility at work, neonatal loss and pregnancy policies were introduced.

As for future ambitions:

  • 50% of polyester used across the business will be from certified recycled sources by 2025, and 50% of nylon by 2027.
  • A new semi-automated distribution center and sustainability influencer / education destination is scheduled to open in 2025.
  • By 2030, the retailer aims to have 45% of transactions be from circular products and services, and have everything they build, sell, and buy reach the ethical and environmental standards of Project Earth.
  • The company aims to have net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, a decade before the proposed year set forth by the Paris Agreement.

“Following a period of experimentation and exploration, we are excited to move into a new phase of embedding and accelerating. This is particularly evident in the rapid evolution of Reselfridges, our flagship circular initiative which brings together resale, rental, repair, refill and recycle,” Selfridges Managing Director, Andrew Keith, adds.

This vision includes not just the brands stocked on its shelves, but the entire operating models of its stores, and initiatives to promote more circular consumption practices amongst its shoppers. “We recognize that we need to challenge ourselves to accelerate change, and our ambitious circular and materials targets do just that. We don’t have all the answers, but we are committed to finding solutions, through a continued imaginative approach to retail innovation,” he states. “The scale of our ambitions cannot be underestimated, but we are inspired by what lies ahead and how we bring this to life for our customers.”

While roughly half of Selfridges customers (52%) are aware of Selfridges’ sustainability efforts, 80% of its team members state they can contribute to sustainability as a result of their employer—a promising number for trickle-down economics. The company’s vast commitments are to not just the environment, but also ethics, with increased emphasis on inclusivity training for managers, closing the pay gap, and more women and people from underrepresented ethnic groups in leadership roles. By end of the year, 80% of management and store leadership teams will have completed modern slavery training. Keith comments: “Today, more than ever, we need to take big, bold decisions. The future of retail is circular, which means leaving behind our linear, transactional ways—customers on one side of the counter and us behind it.”


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