Burberry burns unsold products worth £28.6 million to guard against counterfeiting; is it ethical?

Reportedly, the retailers said that the measure was much needed to prevent illegal counterfeiting by ensuring the supply chain remains intact.

Written by Anjali Jha | New Delhi | Published: July 23, 2018 8:57:52 pm
Burberry, Burberry sales, brexit, sterling pound, pound value, British economy, business news, economy news, latest news, indian express Is it worth burning unsold products worth £28.6 million to prevent them from being stolen or sold at lower rates? (Source: File Photo)

Luxury label Burberry destroyed unsold clothes, accessories, cosmetic products and perfume worth more than £28 million (more than Rs 250 crore) over the past one year. This step was taken to guard the brand’s intellectual property against counterfeiting. As per Guardian‘s report, in a practice understood to be common across the retail industry, the luxury brand burned products including £10.4 million worth of beauty items. Reportedly, the retailers said that the measure was much needed to prevent illegal counterfeiting by ensuring the supply chain remains intact.

However, industry people and social media users are criticising this act and calling out on how the brands have often shown disrespect for its own produce. To understand if this practice is ethical or not, indianexpress.com reached out to financial advisor Safir Anand, who handle designers like Manish Malhotra and Gaurav Gupta. “This practice may be considered as an anti-piracy measure for the simple reason that if a certain percentage of these products enters the market, counterfeit producers that are far more than genuine may take advantage of the low price genuine products tag to pass off counterfeit products at same prices. This could cause even more dilution through price between the original and the counterfeit and the brand will have no control over the same”, he said.

“For designers, or I believe with every artist may it be a singer or a director or a designer, the biggest insecurity is duplicity of work especially when it is original. A designer works with sheer determination to design even an inch of a garment and when it gets copied which you can easily see on Diet Prada and Diet Sabya, it’s a nightmare for a label. Until they are using eco-friendly ways to burn their extra stock or excessive production it’s not harmful or can be termed as waste”, says designer Pankhuri Jain.

However, Jain also mentions how she would never do something of this kind if such need arises because her designs are dear to her. “My karigars work day and night to match my design perfection and customers and market expectation. If ever required to get off my extra stock and even I don’t wish to sell it on discounts I would do it by merely removing my logo or emblems and send it to a developing country where people will value it and I will also have my brand value increased there”, she added.

According to the BBC reports, Burberry said that the energy generated from burning its products was captured, making it environmentally friendly. “Burberry has careful processes in place to minimise the amount of excess stock we produce. On the occasions when disposal of products is necessary, we do so in a responsible manner and we continue to seek ways to reduce and revalue our waste,” a spokesperson for the company said. More than £90m of Burberry products have been destroyed over the past five years, and shareholders have questioned why the unsold products were not offered to the company’s private investors.

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