Inditex's Chairman and CEO, Pablo Isla, meets with Beijing's Mayor, Jining Chen

  • Pablo Isla told Jining Chen about the Group's eco-efficient store programme in Beijing, the first city in the world to complete this ambitious sustainability initiative, which saved 46 million kWh since 2015. China is home to more than 600 Inditex Group stores, all of which are eco-efficient, and its capital, to 57.
  • This environmental store programme reflects a pledge Pablo Isla made to China when Mayor Chen was Minister for the Environment.
  • Inditex's chief executive also described other sustainability initiatives being pursued by the organisation at present, all along its value chain, singling out the important progress being made on the circular economy and garment recycling fronts.
  • Indeed, Pablo Isla has just signed an agreement in Beijingwith the vice president of Tsinghua University, Bin Yang, to “research, raise awareness and provide community support for sustainable social development practices”, whose goal is to foster the pursuit of global sustainability initiatives.
  • Also at Tsinghua University, Isla made a presentation to more than 200 students and university staff about Inditex's fully integrated, digital and sustainable model, underscoring the importance of the creative talent, ability to innovate and solid values of the professionals working at the company.

The Chairman and CEO of Inditex, Pablo Isla, has met with the Mayor of Beijing, Jining Chen, with whom he analysed the recent culmination of execution of the Group's eco-efficiency store plan in China, the first country in the world to complete this technologically advanced programme, which delivers emissions and energy savings of up to 30% compared to conventional stores. Inditex has 57 stores in Peking and over 600 in all of China, where it employs more than 13,000 people. The eco-efficiency plan came into existence in the country when the current Mayor, Jining Chen, was Minister for the Environment. The programme has unlocked savings of 46 million kWh since 2015.

The eco-efficient store programme consists of the installation of a centralized measurement-based technology system which permits control over all of the store devices so as to align consumption with needs that evolve over the course of the day and depending on the weather. Lighting intensity, for example, can be automatically dimmed when there is more natural light or if only needed outside of trading hours.

Pablo Isla also informed Mayor Chen about the progress being made by Inditex in other areas of the sustainability field as part of its effort to move towards a circular economy, dwelling on those underway in Beijing. He cited the rollout across the city of the scheme for collecting used clothing when delivering online orders and the Closing the Loop programme for the collection of second-hand clothing in the Group's stores in Beijing and in another 180 stores around China, an initiative it is working on with the China Environmental Protection Foundation (CEPF), China's first NGO dedicated to environmental protection and an organisation that enjoys consultative status to the United Nations.  In total, the Group has already collected over 850,000 garments in the Asian giant. The Inditex Group's garment reuse and recycling plan operates worldwide, currently in over 1,400 stores in 24 markets.

New agreement with Tsinghua SEM until 2021

During his visit to China, Pablo Isla also signed a new agreement between Inditex and Tsinghua SEM at a ceremony with the University's vice president, Bin Yang. The purpose of that agreement is to "research, raise awareness and generate community support for sustainable social development practices” in order to foster the pursuit of global sustainability initiatives applicable to Inditex's value chain.

The new agreement also increases the endowment for scholarships for MBA students at Tsinghua SEM, framed by an academic training programme rolled out three years ago as part of the Belt and Road initiative being championed by the Chinese government, which has been exceptionally well received. Tsinghua University, in collaboration with ESADE in Spain, offers an immersion programme which teaches logistics models in the fashion industry, environmental protection and sustainable development; it is complemented by visits to the Inditex Group's logistics platforms in Barcelona and to its head offices in Arteixo. Thanks to the new agreement, those scholarships will go on offer to a broader number of students and new University professors will be brought in thanks to training activities in the logistics and sustainability fields.

Following the ceremony held to mark this new collaboration with Tsinghua University, Pablo Isla presented Inditex's fully integrated, digital and sustainable model to over 200 students and representatives from the international business school. During his presentation, he underscored the importance of the creative talent, ability to innovate and solid values of the professionals working at the company in tackling the retail sector of the future and he emphasised the significance of implementing business models capable of adding social and environmental value by making sustainability a cornerstone of their growth strategies.

Sustainability across the value chain

Inditex's chief executive told the Tsinghua community about the organisation's commitment to embedding sustainability all along its value chain and underscored the steps the company is taking to protect the environment.

Along with the achievement of making all of its Chinese stores eco-efficient and the strides made in collecting used clothing, Isla highlighted the energy saving plans rolled out at the Group's offices, logistics platforms and supply chain.

During his speech, the chief executive reviewed the best practices identified all along the garment chain, starting with the traceability of all processes, from raw material sourcing until the end of the garment's life cycle, where recycling and reuse processes have been introduced. With pride, he mentioned the brands' Join Life collections, which are labelled to flag environmentally-friendly manufacturing processes in terms of raw material sourcing, biodiversity or water usage. “Last year we put 136 million Join Life garments on the market, which is 85% more than in 2017, and we expect further growth in this area, framed by our teams' strong commitment to this initiative”, he added.

Lastly, Pablo Isla expressed his satisfaction with the community work Inditex has been done in China in recent years, particularly its collaboration with the China Youth Development Foundation (CYDF) for the improvement of educational infrastructure in rural parts of the country, which has already benefitted over 5,400 youths in rural China.