Family is at the heart of Best&Less and this translates to every aspect of our business and the relationships we create with our customers, employees, suppliers and partners. We believe in the importance of investing in quality and safety while undertaking a genuine effort to lift social, environmental and community outcomes. It’s a global responsibility we can all take on together.
COVID-19 and Best&Less’ ongoing commitment to our supply partners
At Best&Less we always value our relationships with suppliers and work very closely with them to ensure that we support each other. We build strong long-standing successful relationships with good consistent communication.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was more important than ever to over communicate with our overseas suppliers and we were able to openly discuss our options to ensure we all survived with the heightened level of uncertainty.
Our strategy in Bangladesh and India has never changed, working with only six suppliers in Bangladesh and four in India, has made it easy to communicate over this time.
We kept our stores open to sell essential winter products to our customers throughout the lockdown period even though traffic in stores was at an all-time low, we needed to support our customers, our teams and to honour our orders to suppliers.
All suppliers were contacted directly and we agreed to either accept delivery of garments already produced as well as goods in production or in some cases moved or pause orders to a later date to be able to honour our commitment. We only cancelled orders that hadn’t been started. Since that time we have also placed additional orders and removed the hold we had on the production of orders.
We spoke directly with all suppliers to ensure that they could pay their workers and worked through payment plans with them. Bangladesh and India has been in an extended period of lockdown as a consequence of the pandemic and we have constantly checked in with our factories to ensure that no additional pressure was placed on workforce expectations during the shutdown periods. We have adjusted our order fulfilment dates to accommodate the health and safety needs of the workforce employed to produce our orders.
Factories have now all re-opened and workers in Bangladesh and India are returning to work now as they ease back into a full production capacity. Our factories in China are already back to full production.
The only brand that stands by its quality, with a 100-day guarantee
As a brand adored by Aussie families, we know you want to invest in products that last – and that’s a promise from our family to yours. We live up to this promise with our exclusive 100-day quality guarantee, where you can return products easily and without questions if they don’t meet your expectations.
To continually meet our high standards, we have a Quality Assurance team of highly trained experts and work closely with both our buyers and suppliers to ensure all safety, design, fit, make and use of each product to ensure that the expectations of our customers are met long after purchase.
We know how many loads of laundry you go through, so to make it a little easier we also test all fabrics to ensure they meet requirements for durability, shrinkage, colour fasten, with washing and care – including printed fabrics. All products are tested in accredited laboratories to the relevant Australian and international standards.
We work around the clock to ensure quality remains consistent, with ongoing staff feedback, long-term supplier relationships and monthly store visits. Best&Less is committed to , with twice twice the quality at half the price.
Our strict policies have assured our reputable safety record
Just as with our own family, our customer’s safety is of the utmost importance to us and we always work with the customer’s expectations in mind.
We employ a number of strict safety protocols at our factories including metal detection machines, flammability tests (tested and labelled per Australian standards) and other relevant risk assessments including restricting hazardous chemicals and dyes.
At Best&Less we want our customers to rest assured safety has not been compromised for our affordable products. Through these stringent practices, Best&Less has not had a mandatory ACCC recall for over 7 years.
Everyday our teams help to provide relief to those in need
Best&Less is committed to working together to do better, which is why we partnered with not-for-profit charity Drought Angels to help make a difference to our farmers and regional communities. With a major presence of our stores located regionally, we have seen the devasting effects of floods and drought first-hand. Drought Angels provide essential relief to farmers and their families such as:
- Stock Feed
- Financial Support via Pre-paid Visas
- Local Produce Vouchers
- Moral Support – Face to Face and Phone calls
- In addition, Best&Less has always worked to support other community organisations including:
- St Vincent de Paul Society, where Best&Less was the top fundraiser for CEO sleep out in 2014
- MDC – Mother’s Day Classic, where we donated sportswear with profits generated on the day going directly back to the charity
- Good360, where we provide ongoing donations of clothing that are passed onto over 2,700 charities and disadvantaged schools Australia-wide and across 30 cause areas. Good360 has been awarded ‘Charity of the Year’ in The Australian Charity Awards 2020
- Best & Less has supported 173 different charities and disadvantaged schools, 27 cause areas have benefited from these donations and over 21000 items have been matched.
- Another circa 15,000 samples have been delivered to their warehouse and will be on their way to people in need very soon!
- Zero tolerance approach to breaches to our code of conduct – this was completed in 2015
- Rules of trade e.g. audit and action program – this was completed in 2019
- Internal training of purchasing practices – for completion in 2020
- Modern Slavery Act – 2019 and ongoing
- Developing tools and support to transition from minimum to living wages – for completion in 2023
- Ringfencing product negotiations by implementation of a PLM system to allow open costings and the use of a bill of materials across all styles – implementation started Dec 2020 and Completion by July 2021.
- We will develop and publish our roadmap to living wages mid-2020 and report on yearly progress.
- We will conduct a wage gap analysis to identify the gaps between current wages and living wage benchmarks by 2020
- We commit to review and implement clear and measurable sourcing standards by 2020 to reduce downward pressure on wages
- We recognize that the issues around living wages are complex and achieving them will require collaboration between brands, factory owners, managers, government and NGO’s and we commit to working with them to close any gaps we identify.
- We will utilise a software program to allow us to collect data on living wages to enable us to see open costings which include a break up with labour rates.
Within the last 12 months we have conducted 217 factory audits which provide us with the most up to date position of our supplier base across all regions.
Ethical sourcing is a complex matter, that reaches the global retail environment and requires a commitment from world organisations and factory owners themselves to achieve systemic change. At Best&Less, the movement of ethical sourcing is not new, and something we have worked towards for over six years. Our Ethical Sourcing Code (ESC) outlines our code of conduct and policies in relation to social, environmental and standards of compliance that we require from our business partners. The ESC covers thirteen points and each one represents the values of our business. Our code is translated into Chinese and Bangla and is displayed in our factories for all workers to read. Our Ethical Sourcing Code can be viewed here.
Best&Less employs responsible sourcing policies and maintains stringent supplier selection and onboarding practices. This requires all suppliers to sign and agree to abide by our ESC prior to working with us. Best&Less recently introduced a global auditing program carried out by an independent third party – this specifically covers ethical, social and environmental factory conditions and mandates alliance to our Ethical Sourcing Code. Within the last 12 months, 217 direct suppliers were audited across ethical, social and environmental parameters by a specialist independent third party. Our aim was to audit all second-tier factories during 2020 which has been put on hold due to COVID.
The factories we work with are additionally fully compliant with Social Compliance Initiatives and have passed many other audits such as BSCI, Sedex, Disney and Walmart.
In order to ensure compliance of our standards we regularly conduct in-line and final inspection in the factories.We conduct final inspection by a third party on all baby and toddler order. Our teams regularly visit and audit factories to ensure these standards are maintained, and we seek to retain long-term supplier partnerships.
B&L continually provided training and support for their suppliers and teams through COVID, with the help of the China office and via video conferencing. We supported our suppliers and their workers through COVID by honouring orders and payments, and continuing to place new orders and stay in close communication.
We hold a zero-tolerance policy for the use of child labour, forced labour or prison labour in the manufacturing of our garments. We strive for full transparency and do not allow outsourcing or subcontracting unless sub-contractors are audited and approved also. We manage our purchase orders at a factory level to ensure visibility of where our products are produced and to ensure all factories are audited.
Dec 2020 - We have initiated a Workers Grievance Hotline in all factories through a third-party organisation. All workers will have access to a VOIP toll-free hotline with multiple methods of contacting the hotline in their own language, which will keep the worker anonymous but report to B&L on any conditions in the factories that are not acceptable as part of our Ethical Sourcing Code. Posters are setup in all factories and individual cards will be handed out to all workers so that they can easily access the hotline and anonymously report any wrongdoing.
The majority of our products are produced in China, followed by Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Cambodia. Please note: We ban the use of cotton from Uzbekistan and working with factories in the province of Xinjiang as they don’t comply with our code in human rights.
In December 2020 we implemented a Workers Grievance Hotline, insuring workers rights and safety are respected at all factories. Listening to workers voices and experiences complimenting and going beyond a regular ethical audit. Allowing us to re-act to any practices in the factories we work in that go against our Ethical Sourcing Code.
View our merchandise supplier list here.
We believe in the global movement towards a living wage
Best&Less is passionate about working towards closing the gap between living wages and minimum wages and understand it will require multi-stakeholder collaboration to gain momentum. Steps we have taken include implementing:
Living Wage Statement
We are committed to paying living wages throughout our supply chain.
Best & Less define a living wage as remuneration earned in a standard work week (no more than 48 hours as a maximum) by a worker and be sufficient to afford a decent standard of living for the worker and her or his family. Elements of a decent standard of living include adequate nutritious food, housing, healthcare, clothing, transportation, energy, water, childcare, education, other essential needs including some discretionary money and provision for unexpected events.
A living wage should allow individuals to work and thereby lift themselves and their families out of poverty. We have adopted the benchmarks set by the Anker Living Wage Methodology in order to establish the living wage in regions where our suppliers are located. We are committed to working with our suppliers and other organisations to close any gaps identified within our supply chain.
We recognize that our factories pay legal minimum wages or higher and that is some countries there is a gap between minimum wages and living wages and we commit to working towards closing this gap.
By 2025, we aim to have all packaging re-usable, recyclable or compostable
At Best&Less we are proud signatories to the Australian Packaging Covenant and have been for the last five years. Our goal is to have all packaging recyclable, re-useable or compostable by 2025. Through APCO we follow the Sustainable Packaging Guidelines of which the principals are:
- Fit for Purpose – designed to consumers’ needs and cost effective
- Resource Efficiency – minimise the use of materials without compromising quality or safety
- Low-impact Materials – designed to minimise impact on the environment
- Resource Recovery – designed to maximise recovery and recycling
Best&Less also joined the Sustainability Advantage Program in 2018, which is offered through the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and provides solutions to sustainability guidelines and training by expert consultants. Our focus has been on four key pillars:
- Sustainable Clothing
We have made considerable progress in all four areas and it is an ongoing scheme of improvement.
Best&Less has started the journey of integrating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) into our business with a focus on environmental impacts of fast fashion and human rights concerns in the supply chain. We are also driving a push towards circularity and greater transparency in clothing and textile manufacturing.
We are continually investigating ways in which we can make a significant positive difference with regards to sustainability and have identified priority areas for action and gaps to address.
Best&Less has produced an Organic Cotton Range for the past six years with cotton that is Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified.
We use recycled material certified by Repreve made from recycled plastic bottles.
We are moving all polybags in store to contain recycled content.
Best&Less are part of a hanger recycle program where all instore hangers are recycled.
All cardboard cartons brought into our DC are recycled with Best&Less compacting and recycling over 1000 tonnes of cardboard per annum.
We constantly review the use of packaging across our business to ensure sustainability.
No fur is used in our garments
Our fur friends are just as important to us as our customers here at Best&Less. We proudly do not use any animal fur on our garments (all of the fur trim used is man-made/synthetic fibres).
We strive to ensure no animal cruelty in our manufacturing process and our general merchandise products, like cosmetics, are not tested on animals.
We use minimal wool in our business, however, ensure our supplier of merino has a certified non-mulesing policy arrangement with their yarn supplier.