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Lynne Walker

Behind The Seams

Hear from Lynne Walker about our sustainability strategy

Lynne is responsible for embedding Primark’s sustainability strategy, Primark Cares, throughout the business: over 15 markets with 72,000 team members, and more widely through our supply chain.

How did Primark Cares happen? 

We spent almost two years developing the framework behind this multi-year program, which builds on our existing Ethical Trade and Environmental Sustainability Program. Using guidance from experts in the field of social and environmental impact, the Primark Cares commitments were developed by our experts, as well as those based in sourcing markets. We stress-tested it rigorously with suppliers, stakeholders and our industry partners – and we’re proud of the program we've developed. The commitments are deliberately ambitious, and stretch us as a business; we want to ensure they're still relevant and impactful in 2030, supporting us in addressing key risks in our business and value chain.

What's been the Year One focus of Primark Cares?

This foundational year has focused on developing the internal processes and programs that will underpin the significant changes needed, both within Primark and throughout our value chain, to deliver on our commitments. This has included putting in place robust metrics and gathering the data necessary to set baselines against which we can measure and report on our progress, which we will do annually in this report. It's also been a year of scaling up as well as new beginnings: a year of consolidating existing relationships and reaching out to begin new ones. We’ve been developing the programs to deliver on our commitments, whether that's testing products in line with our new durability standard, kicking off our circular design pilot or continuing to deliver our social impact programs in a number of our key sourcing markets. It’s been a very busy but exciting year! Primark's size and scale gives us the ability to explore new ways of operating, to work with a range of partners and try to lead the way for others. Yes, it's going to be challenging – it already is – but we see it as an incredibly exciting opportunity for us, our supply chain and our customers.

Why is collaboration so critical to the success of Primark Cares?

First and foremost, our Primark Cares commitments set out what we can do ourselves as a business to drive impact and change. As you'll read in this report, this evolution is underway. But the fashion industry is highly complex. Many businesses like us share supply chains in a number of countries and regions, and we share factories with many brands. By working together, we have the chance to move the industry forward to make a larger, lasting impact. For us, working together means collaborating with all our stakeholders. We’re taking a broad and considered view throughout our supply chain, through our partners, suppliers, workers and civil societies, to use our influence to drive change. One of the values that has remained at the heart of Primark since we were founded over 50 years ago is never to stand still. We always look to the future. We design and deliver solutions using a collaborative approach, no matter the stakeholder we're working with, be it our suppliers or grassroots organizations like those supporting our Primark Sustainable Cotton Program. Local organizations often have a valuable understanding of local needs and priorities, and we must take these into account. Partners often bring in technical expertise that we may not have, such as agronomists in our Primark Sustainable Cotton Program and experts on gender equality to support us in the delivery of our social impact programs.

How will environmental and social considerations impact the future of the fashion industry?

We all know we need to adapt to address climate change – the fashion industry must evolve to be fit for the future. Our stakeholders are also demanding change: environmental and social issues are becoming more important to our customers, investors, legislators and civil society. For us, becoming more sustainable isn’t a choice – it’s vital that we change the way we operate to reduce our impact on the planet, and support the livelihoods of people who make our clothes. The complexity and global scale of the challenges we face means we can’t succeed alone. As an industry, we have the chance to take bold steps to tackle these challenges. We want to be more than a part of the change: we want to push ourselves to be at the forefront of the leaders driving our industry forward. It’s also important to mention technology – it’s changing all the time and opening new possibilities for sustainability. While scalable solutions relating to some of our commitments don’t exist yet, we’re optimistic the next decade will bring new solutions we can adopt.

Why is Primark Cares important for customers?

Primark Cares gives customers more sustainable options at affordable prices. Our customers tell us they want to shop more sustainably, but believe they can’t afford it. We believe people shouldn’t be priced out of making more sustainable choices. Now more than ever, we want to make sure our customers can do this without breaking the bank. There's a common misconception that paying more for something means it has a lower impact on the environment. That’s not always the case. More than half of what we sell is everyday basics – socks, underwear, basic white T-shirts, hoodies and jeans – and we’re working hard to make these essentials more sustainable. For me, a key part of Primark Cares is broadening the scope of what we mean by "value" for our customers, to include sustainability.

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