PnP's growing clothing division is increasingly shifting to local suppliers, and those using sustainable practices

Pick n Pay Clothing is on a drive to support local manufacture by targeting 60% locally sourced products in the next five years, and they will be working closely with suppliers to increase the sustainability practices used in production.

Local sourcing now represents 40% of total clothing sales and has provided numerous opportunities for exciting collaborations with local designers and entrepreneurs, while reducing order lead times and maintaining high levels of availability for customers.

Proving 'local is lekker', Pick n Pay Clothing reported a 21% increase in sales last year by gaining market share across several women, men and childrenswear categories. Over two years, through Pick n Pay's localisation initiative, over 700 jobs have been created through the supply chain.

"The pandemic has taught us to be more resourceful. We have always supported local production but it has pushed us and our local suppliers to develop and source more products locally that were not readily available according to our customers' needs," says Hazel Pillay, General Manager for Pick n Pay Clothing.

She adds that to increase local sourcing in the coming years they will continue to empower local suppliers to produce locally by building their capacity, as well as investigate opportunities in fabric sourcing. "This will help us grow local production of clothing that have typically been imported, such as high winter product lines."

Pillay says that they started working with a small supplier in Durban during the pandemic to meet the massive demand for slippers which became the unofficial footwear for working from home. "Similar to many businesses, one of our suppliers, Sneaker Factory, was impacted during lockdown and struggled to survive during this period. Fixed expenses continued to grow with limited income but the owner, Rafiq Mahomed, identified an opportunity in locally produced slippers and converted part of his factory to manufacture indoor slippers and approached us. We initially bought 22,000 pairs and this has grown to over 160,000 pairs over the winter season."

Another way it is uplifting the local clothing industry is through its collaboration initiative – now in its third year – which sees the retailer partner with young, up-and-coming creatives to design exclusive, yet affordable, ranges for its customers. "All the ranges are locally produced. The 2022 collab ranges will launch with a range by Julia Buchanan in September, which has also been made with recycled fabrics to drive sustainability."

The retailer is increasingly pushing for more sustainable practices in the manufacturing of its range. 42% of the upcoming 2022 Summer collection in stores will contain sustainable practices, up from just 22% for the winter collection.

These practices include rainwater harvesting, recycling of preproduction waste, water recycling and using solar energy. Around 70% of Pick n Pay's main suppliers include one or more of these practices.

"Some of our suppliers have implemented incredible practices to limit their impact on the environment. For instance, 80% of the denim in Pick n Pay stores is waterwise as suppliers employ water and energy saving technology in their production."

There is also a strong push to manufacture with natural resources. "We are committed to sourcing our cotton more sustainably and through the Better Cotton initiatives, we are growing the ranges using organic cotton that is sustainably sourced."

Pick n Pay Clothing is a strategic priority under the company's new Ekuseni strategy. More space will be given to the division in supermarkets in addition to 73 new store openings planned for the next year. "As we drive growth in our clothing division, we want to empower local suppliers along the way. This will in turn help us support the local economy with great job opportunities," concludes Pillay.

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