French luxury goods group Kering has made significant progress over the past four years towards its sustainability targets, but admits more collaboration is required if standards and practices are to improve across the supply chain.

In an update on its 2012-2016 sustainability goals, Kering says it has increased traceability and sourcing of leather from EU-based production systems, which has enabled a higher quality of leather with a lower environmental footprint. This means that 91% of its target has been achieved for luxury bovine leather. 

For PVC, Kering has achieved 99% of its target, and is now souring more sustainable alternative plastic materials. Additionally, the company has increased efficiencies across its entire supply chain – the part of its business where its Environmental Profit & Loss (EP&L) analysis identified that 93% of environmental impacts were found. Kering says this has resulted in an 11% carbon emissions reduction, 16% decreased waste and 19% less water use, which equals 44%, 64% and 76% respectively of its targets achieved.

For precious skins and furs, Kering says it has improved traceability and now has closer collaboration with its suppliers and that its commitment to best practices and standards has resulted in "significant" progress, such as achieving 91% of its target for crocodilian.

The group behind brands such as Gucci, Saint Laurent and Stella McCartney released its first ever EP&L report for 2013 in May last year. In its update report this week, Kering said the EP&L highlighted that in order for the business to become more sustainable there was a clear need to go beyond the original targets and include a broader range of raw materials including cashmere, wool, silk and cotton.

Additionally, the company highlighted the need to build "innovative partnerships" to design "credible and informed standards and solutions" to enhance the sustainability of sourcing raw materials.

"It is clear that new business approaches are needed to ensure socially responsible supply chains," Kering said. "The road to do so involves actions by individual companies, industry groups and multi-stakeholder platforms and involves a series of key actions, including: clarity and agreement on standards and practices; communication and collaboration to implement these; innovation to support operational change in suppliers; and verification against these standards."

Kering also pointed to the need for new, innovative business models and internal frameworks to be created in order to provide support for more sustainable production processes and the reconfiguration of supply chains, such as the Kering Materials Innovation Lab for sustainable fabrics and the Kering Gold Framework for the sourcing of traceable and responsible gold.

"Our sustainability targets were audacious and ambitious in our industry, and efforts to meet them have not been without challenges," said Marie-Claire Daveu, chief sustainability officer.

"We have been building and scaling initiatives from our raw materials sourcing through to our stores. In doing so, we have been catalysing innovative processes and business models to ensure that sustainability is embedded across our supply chains. I am excited for the next phase of our strategy that will build on what we have achieved, including the redefinition of our targets."

Kering is expected to announce the next phase of its sustainability strategy at the end of 2016.

Click here to view the full report.