Tsinghua School of Economics and Management (Tsinghua SEM) welcomed Óscar García Maceiras, a member of the school's advisory board and CEO of Inditex, on October 19, 2023. He was invited to attend Tsinghua SEM class and shared Inditex's achievements in sustainable development with as many as 100 MBA and Master Programs' students.
Leading the fashion industry
García began by providing a detailed overview of Inditex's business model and corporate culture. Inditex is one of the world's largest fashion retail groups, operating seven brands including ZARA and Massimo Dutti, and selling in more than 200 markets at more than 5,800 stores. Since entering the Chinese market in 2004, Inditex has opened stores in more than 50 Chinese cities and sells through branded platforms and Tmall. García said Inditex, as a leading global fashion retailer, has always integrated sustainability into its culture and operations. He said companies should not only care about their own sustainability, but actively work to solve social and environmental issues by integrating sustainability into their value chain. He emphasized the importance of listening to and communicating with customers and stakeholders.
Innovative, sustainable fashion
García shared some of the company's innovative initiatives in the fields of sustainability. Inditex is focused on driving and expanding innovation in materials, technologies, and processes to reduce the environmental footprint of fashion products and make the fashion industry more sustainable and circular. In terms of innovation, Inditex has partnered with Circ, a startup whose technology enables conversion of common poly-cotton blend fabrics into recycled raw materials. By 2030, all of the group's textile products will use materials with a low environmental footprint: 25 percent will be made from next-generation materials that are not yet industrialized, 40 from conventional recycled fibers, 25 percent from crops grown using organic or regenerative agriculture, and 10 from other preferred fibers that comply with industry association regulations. Last year, the group unveiled its INFINITED FIBER × ZARA capsule collection, which featured 60 percent of its material being recycled from ZARA's clothing collection program.
Sustainable supply chain and store operations
In addition to choosing environmentally-friendly raw materials, stores upgrades are another important part of Inditex's sustainable strategy. García said ZARA locations have been upgraded to eco-store standards, being refitted with energy-efficient hardware and connected to INERGY, an intelligent platform for energy management, to reduce the carbon footprint of store operations. At the same time, Inditex has partnered with the China Environmental Protection Foundation to recycle used clothing collected at stores and online to create sustainable solutions for used clothing. The company is following a similar collaboration scheme with non-profit entities in other markets. In terms of logistics innovation, García said the last mile delivery for all its stores in China is using electric vehicles: the group intends to introduce more low-carbon vehicles for longer distance truck transport.
Building a future together
García emphasized the importance of collaboration and innovation. Fashion retail is a large and highly fragmented industry, so collaboration is crucial, he said. Inditex is working closely with suppliers, innovative companies and research institutions to explore innovative solutions for sustainable development. García said the group's internal Changemaker program aims to cultivate the awareness of sustainability within the company. To this end, ZARA calls on store employees to participate in various interesting challenges or activities to collect, share, and demonstrate sustainable development in daily work and life, making everyone a "change agent" to drive sustainable development.
Inditex's future commitments
García shared Inditex Group's future commitment to halve its total emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2040, which is one of the company's main goals for future growth. He said this is not just a business goal, but also a commitment to the world's future. He called on the global fashion retail industry to work together to promote sustainable development of the industry and contribute to the prosperity of the planet and the future of humanity.
Inditex has a long history of cooperation with Tsinghua SEM. With its support, the Tsinghua MBA Global Competency Module has organized five exchange trips to Spain and has been warmly received by students. The Tsinghua Students Dialogue with Board Members activity provided an extraordinary learning opportunity for students at Tsinghua SEM and allowed them to understand the latest developments in the global fashion retail industry. In interacting with García, the students gained valuable industry experience and were inspired by the ideas of entrepreneurship and sustainable development.
At the end of the class, the students presented García with a framed Tsinghua University T-shirt with the autographs of all the students who took part in the class.
Source: MBA Education Center