Our customers' health, safety, and enjoyment of our products is vital. We work hard to ensure product quality and safety, aiming to meet or exceed industry standards, legal requirements and our customers' expectations. We also collaborate with others in our industry to raise standards across the apparel sector.
Our Quality, Assurance and Development Teams in Europe and Asia oversees every aspect of product safety and quality. They examine our goods to determine their physical, chemical, and mechanical properties as well as measurements and workmanship, applying especially strict criteria for baby and children’s clothing. Product testing is carried out by C&A and in co-operation with external laboratories like SGS, Intertek and Bureau Veritas, to ensure that our collections always meet the latest legal, chemical, and safety standards. The Team also helps our suppliers, factories, and colleagues understand safety risks and co-ordinates with legal bodies and industry associations.
Our commitment to quality extends throughout the entire manufacturing chain, beginning with fibre manufacture and continuing through production to the final random sampling of individual products in our stores.
These quality audits ensure that only appropriate production units, that meet all our requirements, are allowed to produce garments for C&A according to all our C&A quality standards.
Product sample inspection
Whether a certain product can be sold at C&A is determined after a sample of the item has been thoroughly examined according to stringent criteria, such as workmanship and physical properties (resistance to tearing, shrinkage, colour fastness), chemicals, and various legal safety requirements (small parts or the restrictions on the use of cords that could pose a danger to babies or children). Once these and other criteria have been met, an item may be manufactured for C&A.
Quality and conformity inspection
These inspections take place during and after production so we can determine whether the product matches our requirements. Workmanship, measurements and safety checks must be passed before items are allowed into C&A stores.
Structured quality and due diligence checks
To guarantee the greatest possible safety for our customers, C&A also performs random due diligence checks on products to ensure they meet our expectations.
To support the development of safe clothing with no hazardous chemicals present, we have implemented a restricted substances policy. We are also active members of voluntary industry groups such as the AFIRM Group (Apparel & Footwear International RSL Management Group) and CADS (Cooperation against Dangerous Substances in Shoes). In 2016, approximately 25% of our collections in Europe achieved the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 rating. The OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 is an independent testing and certification system for textile raw materials and intermediate and end products at all stages of production. This confirms that our fabric, yarn, components and trims have undergone a rigorous test for harmful chemicals. Strict controls on fixing agents, dyes and impregnating agents used to make clothes more durable or flexible are in place for all our clothing.
Globally, we eliminated two per- and poly-fluorochemicals (PFCs) from all products, having created a way to test for PFCs in our products. Garment manufacturers apply PFCs to garments to repel liquids and stains. However, research by organisations like the US Environmental Protection Agency has indicated a link between PFCs and damage to human health and wildlife.
Towards zero discharge of hazardous chemicals
The C&A Chemical Policy also contains the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC)'s Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) which focuses on the elimination of hazardous chemicals in the supply chain. ZDHC is one of our 2020 goals, it's a multi-stakeholder initiative for which C&A is a founding member, and we plan to rapidly scale our efforts.
Continually moving toward chrome-free leather
We don’t use a lot of leather in our products. But when we do, we want to make sure it is produced responsibly. One way we do this is by striving to buy leather for our clothing that is chrome-free tanned.
We had no product recalls across our retail markets in 2016.