Burberry faces backlash after burning excess stock

Handlers of the luxury brand say it incinerated millions of dollars’ worth of merchandise rather than selling it at a discount or donating it. Social media users sound off in response.

In a bid to avoid tarnishing its brand, Burberry ended up tarnishing its brand.

The U.K. company, known for fashionable clothes, perfumes and more, has made headlines by incinerating millions in overstock rather than allowing its products to fall into the wrong hands.

BBC reported:

“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.

The FTSE 100 company said last year was unusual as it had to destroy a large amount of perfume after signing a new deal with US firm Coty.

The move drew criticism from consumers who see the burning of the overstock a waste—and environmentally irresponsible.

Others say the practice is widespread:

Others vowed to shop elsewhere:

Burberry says it captured the energy from the burn, making the move environmentally friendly, according to the BBC. However, many activists aren’t buying it.

BBC continued:

“Despite their high prices, Burberry shows no respect for their own products and the hard work and natural resources that are used to made them,” said Lu Yen Roloff of Greenpeace.

“The growing amount of overstock points to overproduction, and instead of slowing down their production, they incinerate perfectly good clothes and products.

“It’s a dirty secret of the fashion industry. Burberry is just the tip of the iceberg,” she said.

Burberry has asserted that the destruction of the stock was intended to thwart counterfeiters.

Newsweek reported:

Fashionunited.co.uk reported that Burberry does not have complete control over its brand in different markets and so foreign factories can tamper with design copyright.

“Hence, to retain brand equity, luxury companies decide to destroy or buy back their collections to ensure it doesn’t re-enter the marketplace,” it said.

However, Burberry and other luxury fashion brands have a problem convincing consumers that their business practices aren’t wrongheaded. Even consumers who could understand the logic of the move condemned it for its wastefulness.

The fallout could be a big problem for these companies, as data show that consumers increasingly want the brands they buy to stand for positive change in their community.

How would you advise Burberry and other luxury brands to rehab their reputation?

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