Social Responsibility

Do you issue a social and environmental responsibilities report?

We release a Responsibilities Report every year.  This can be read here.

Do you have a code of conduct?

Yes, our code was first established in 1996, revised in 2000, 2007, and again in 2015. It replicates the ETI Base Code as well as being underpinned by the ILO core conventions.  You can find out more and download it here.

How do your factories know about your code of conduct?

Our Code of Conduct is communicated to all of our suppliers when they begin trading with the Arcadia Group. Under our ethical audit programme, our suppliers must submit an independent third-party factory ethical audit no older than a year to receive a grading for a new factory set-up on Valid8, our online database. The system prompts them to communicate our Code of Conduct to each of their factories and confirm they understand and meet our minimum requirements. Our Code is also an integral part of the Supplier Handbook and is available on the supplier extranet. Our aim is for a programme of continuous improvement. Each purchase order includes the Code of Conduct as part of our Conditions of Trading.

Who monitors your code of conduct?

Factories used by our suppliers must submit a valid independent audit, no older than one year, before any orders can be placed. These audits are carried out by some of the world’s largest international auditing companies in the local language, against the Arcadia code of conduct. If issues are identified during the audit, a corrective action plan is agreed with the factory. We also review all audits internally and follow up may take place with the supplier in order to ensure compliance. You can read more about our Ethical Audit Programme here.

In addition to this, our trained employees visit factories on a regular basis. Among other things, they will be looking for violations of our code of conduct or issues raised during an audit which have yet to be resolved. Any concerns will be discussed immediately with the factory and we will work together with them to remedy the issue wherever possible, with emphasis on implementing a sustainable solution.

What support do you provide to suppliers and factories to help them meet the code of conduct requirements?

The Arcadia Group Code of Conduct Guidebook gives detailed explanations of our code of conduct expectations and how to meet these. This includes a description of what is meant by each section of the code, relevant international laws or ILO conventions, common examples of non-compliance, documentation and management flowcharts to overcome these non-compliances as well as examples of best practice. You can read more and download the Guidebook here.

Do you work with factories that use child labour?

We make it clear at the beginning of our relationship with a supplier that we will not work with any factory that employs children, which would be a serious violation of our code of conduct. To work with us, suppliers must agree to employ factory workers who meet the minimum legal age requirement in that country or the minimum age in our code, whichever is higher.

Our code is aligned with the United Nations’ definition of a child as any person less than 15 years of age unless local minimum law stipulates a higher age for work or mandatory schooling, in which case the higher shall apply. If, however, local minimum age law is set at 14 years of age, in accordance with developing country exceptions under ILO Convention No 138, the lower will apply.

Do you support factory workers’ right to join a union?

Yes, our code is very clear in this area:

  • We believe that every worker has the right, without distinction, to join or form trade unions of their own choosing and to bargain collectively within the law of the land of the country concerned.
  • We expect the employer to adopt an open attitude towards the activities of trade unions and their organisational activities.
  • We expect that workers’ representatives are not discriminated against and have access to carry out their representative functions in the workplace.
  • Where the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining is restricted under law, we would expect that the employer facilitates, and does not hinder, the development of parallel means for independent and free association and bargaining.

Do you support the concept of a living wage as opposed to a minimum wage?

Arcadia supports the position that all workers in our supply chain, including piece rate, subcontracted, informal, home and migrant workers, should always receive enough wages to meet their needs for nutritious food, clean water and other needs (shelter, transport etc) as well as a discretionary income, which is now a generally well accepted definition of a living wage.

The challenge is how to measure and then implement it. Until there is a universally agreed alternative, we rely on a solid benchmark specified by an ILO Convention and that is the minimum wage set by law in the appropriate country or local industry benchmark standards.

This is a complex topic, as many other organisations are finding. There are also many practical difficulties to agreeing and implementing a living wage. We don't own the factories that produce our merchandise so we do not employ the factory workers directly.  In our view, in addition to the activities we are working on, the most effective solution would be by governments increasing the minimum wage, which would create a level playing field for all parties.

You can read about our living wage projects here.

Which countries are on your ‘banned’ list?

Currently our banned list includes North Korea, Uzbekistan and Iran. The list of acceptable countries is managed centrally by the Ethical Trading department.

Why do you not have a country of origin label on your products?

We do list the country of origin on the vast majority of our products. However, the fast fashion element of our business means that some suppliers have to be flexible about which of their factories they use to manufacture our goods and, as a result, do not list the country of origin. That said, all our suppliers still need to comply with our Code of Conduct.

Do you sell Fairtrade goods?

Topshop and Topman have developed Fairtrade ranges. Topshop has built partnerships with a number of brands to develop products that are made from organic and Fairtrade cotton.

Do you use fur in any of your garments?

We are committed to not selling any items made of real fur.

All our suppliers are required to sign up to our animal welfare declaration as part of our conditions of trading. Our internet-based test report system automatically reminds suppliers of our animal welfare policy when they are asked to supply goods made from animal sources. In addition, further confirmations will be put in place by our new ethical audit database (Valid8).

This will include reinforcing our ban on wool from producers that use mulesing as part of their animal husbandry techniques. Our existing policy also states that Arcadia Group expects suppliers to adhere to the following sourcing standards:

  • leathers, skins and feathers must only be obtained as a by-product and not be the sole purpose of the slaughter of an animal;
  • no products in full or part are to be sourced from endangered species from the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) or IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) lists;
  • angora, real fur or pelts are not to be used on any products supplied to Arcadia Group;
  • leathers should not be obtained while an animal is alive;
  • feathers should not be plucked from live animals; and
  • Arcadia Group branded cosmetics, and their ingredients, must not be tested on animals.

Do you sell organic goods?

Our Brands do sell ranges made from organic cotton, such as Topshop’s MOTO organic cotton jeans range.

Does your nightwear meet all current flammability legislation?

Yes, the flammability of the clothing we sell complies with all current UK and European legislation, including:

  • Nightwear (Safety) Regulations 1985
  • Toy Safety Regulations
  • General Product Safety Regulations.

Why are you not members of the ETI?

Our own ethical trading programme – and its resultant code of conduct – has been in existence since 1996 and replicates the ETI Base Code as well as being underpinned by the ILO core conventions. We have an open dialogue with many interested stakeholders, including other retailers and pressure groups and we believe we can move our programme forward successfully without being members of any independent ethical body.


What are you doing to reduce your impact on the environment?

We have an extensive ongoing programme in this area and we have made significant progress on a number of fronts. We have had energy efficiency, waste reduction and transport initiatives in place since January 2006. We have seen some major improvements, including moving goods as efficiently as possible and simple initiatives such as turning off unnecessary lights and re-using resources. We also have Green Champions throughout our offices  You can read more about our work here.

Do you comply with the RoHs (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) and WEEE (Waste Electrical Electronic Equipment) Directives?

We have procedures in place to ensure that all our suppliers are educated and comply with all aspects of this environmental legislation. We have registered with Valpak to ensure we comply with both our 'Distributor' and 'Producer' obligations set out in the WEEE Directive.

How does Arcadia comply with REACH legislation?

REACH is the European Union legislation for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation (and Restriction) of Chemical substances, which came into force in 2007. It's central aim to protect human health and the environment from the risks arising from the use of chemicals.

Arcadia works closely with its suppliers and factories to fulfil its obligations under REACH and has established processes and procedures to ensure that its products comply with the requirements.

What's your approach to washing instructions and advising customers to wash at 30 degrees?

We actively promote washing at lower temperatures, which can save up to 40% of the energy used to heat water.

We have also continued to minimise product that can only be dry cleaned in the group. On selected dry clean only products, we advise customers to ‘be green when you dry clean’ by using the cleaner ‘Green Earth’ option, rather than the traditional ‘perc’ (perchloroethylene) process.


What are you doing to improve the accessibility of your stores and websites?

The majority of our stores allow access to all floors for customers with disabilities. It is our ongoing aim to improve the accessibility of our stores for all customers, including those with disabilities. Where access to some areas of a store is not possible we offer alternatives including a 'personal shopper' service where a selection of items of clothing can be brought by our staff to the customer. In addition, many of our brands can offer accessible shopping at alternative nearby stores.

All our brand websites have achieved Web Accessibility Initiative AA rating making them more accessible to people with disabilities.

We have introduced a mystery shopper programme, including customers with a disability, to provide useful insight and feedback to us about store accessibility. This helps us to decide which actions we should take and informs our store development for new or modernised stores.

How do you ensure you play a valuable role in the community, both nationally and locally?

Our communities contribute to our business in many ways. It is therefore important for us to invest in these, for example through nurturing future design talent or through investing in the communities local to our stores. This is why we are committed to strategic partnerships such as the Fashion Retail Academy and our sponsorships of London Fashion Week.  Read more about our communities work here.

Supporting charity is also an inherent part of our ethos. At a group and brand level, we work closely with selected chosen charities and are very active in fundraising on a corporate and individual basis. Many of our brands work with their charity partners to create exclusive products that are sold in our stores to raise funds. Often fundraising is driven by our retail employees and takes place at a local community level with events in-store or personal efforts from marathons, bike rides and social celebrations. You can read more about our charity work here.

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