The British fashion label Burberry has destroyed more than £28 million (US$36 million) worth of its unsold fashion and cosmetic products over the past year to guard against counterfeiting.
In a practice understood to be common across the retail industry, the luxury brand burned products worth £28.6 million, including £10.4 million worth of beauty items, according to its annual report.
Retailers said the measure was needed to protect intellectual property and prevent illegal counterfeiting by ensuring the supply chain remains intact.
Burberry said it destroyed only items that carried its trademark and only worked with specialist companies able to harness the energy from the process to make it environmentally friendly.
It said the destruction of cosmetic items was a one-off related to a licence agreed last year with the beauty company Coty.
A company spokesman said: “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.”
The company’s clothing is priced at the high end of fashion retail, with men’s polo shirts selling for as much as £250 and its famous trench coats costing about £1,500.
According to The Times newspaper, more than £90 million 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.
The group has said it takes its environmental obligations seriously, and recently joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation ’s Make Fashion Circular initiative to prevent waste in the industry.
However, environmentalists and social media users have criticised the company.
Kirsten Brodde, who leads the Detox My Fashion campaign at Greenpeace, said on Thursday that Burberry “shows no respect for its own products and the hard work and natural resources that are used to make them”.
Burberry, which is gearing up for the first collection under its new chief creative officer, Riccardo Tisci announced last week that its same-store sales had grown by 3 per cent in the 13 weeks to June 30, with revenues rising slightly from £478 million to £479 million.
It warned that sales in the UK and Europe had been knocked because of weaker tourist demand, but that Chinese tourists had lifted sales in Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan.