Why has Burberry destroyed £28 million of clothing and cosmetics in a year?

Burberry announced last week that its sales grew by 3% in the 13 weeks to June 30. Credit: PA

Burberry destroyed more than £28 million worth of its fashion and cosmetic products over the past year in a practice now common across the retail industry.

The luxury British brand burnt the products, totalling £28.6 million in value, including £10.4 million of beauty items, according to detail in its annual report.

Other well known brands both high street and luxury have dealt with their unwanted stock using a range of methods.

  • Why would Burberry do this and how has it defended itself?

Burberry defended its actions saying it only destroyed items that carried its trademark and only worked with specialist companies who were able to harness the energy from the process.

Destroying products has become common practice for the industry, with retailers describing it as a measure to protect intellectual property and guard against counterfeiting.

The Burberry group has said it takes its environmental obligations seriously. Credit: PA
  • How do other fashion brands deal with unwanted stock?


High street fashion brand H&M reportedly burned 15 tonnes worth of unwanted stock at a Swedish power plant.

H&M reportedly burned 15 tonnes of unwanted clothes. Credit: PA

The retail company defended its actions saying it did not burn any clothes that were "safe to use."


Nike was spotted getting rid of unwanted shoes by slashing them and placing the stock in bin bags.

Slashed Nike shoes were spotted near Soho, New York. Credit: PA

A Nike spokesperson said the slashed products spotted near Soho, New York, did not meet the brand's standards to restock, recycle, or donate so it was disposed of.

Eddie Bauer

The brand Eddie Bauer has also come under fire after an onlooker reported piles of slashed clothes outside Union Square store near New York.

Eddie Bauer was caught out by a passerby who spotted piles of slashed coats. Credit: PA

Urban Outfitters

The high street brand occupied the spotlight last year after one its employees claimed he had been asked to pour green paint over unwanted Toms.

The company did not comment on its disposal of unwanted Toms. Credit: PA
  • Will Burberry's reputation take a hit because of this?

In an effort to highlight its commitment to sustainable fashion the group has said it takes its environmental obligations seriously, and recently joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular initiative to prevent waste in the industry.

The company announced last week that its sales grew by 3% in the 13 weeks to June 30, up from £478 million to £479 million.

But the fashion house warned that sales in the UK and Europe had been knocked due to weaker tourist demand, but that Chinese tourists had lifted sales in Hong Kong, Korea and Japan.

In response to the brand's management of unwanted stock, a Burberry spokesperson said:

“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.

"This is a core part of our Responsibility strategy to 2022 and we have forged partnerships and committed support to innovative organizations to help reach this goal.

"One example is our partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular Initiative, where we join other leading organisations to work towards a circular fashion economy.”