Luxury clothing brand Burberry burned $37.8 million worth of its pricey trench coats, bags and perfumes last year to prevent them from being stolen or sold to the “wrong people,” according to The Times of London.
Burberry’s annual report shows that the London-based company incinerated $1,800 trench coats and $250 polo shirts among the $13.76 million in beauty products, and $24 million in ready-to-wear products and accessories it destroyed. That’s more than usual. The company said it’s burned $116 million worth of unsold Burberry products in five years.
Burberry, with a market capitalization of about $11.6 billion, isn’t the only high-end brand destroying unsold stock to protect the brand and keep the goods from falling into the hands of discounters. Retail chain H&M and luxury brands like Chanel and Louis Vuitton also have burned unsold stock, and experts say it’s a fairly common practice among brands trying to retain their exclusivity.
“The reason they are doing this is so that the market is not flooded with discounts,” Maria Malone, principal lecturer on the fashion business at Manchester Metropolitan University, told the BBC. “They don’t want Burberry products to get into the hands of anyone who can sell them at a discount and devalue the brand.”
Counterfeiters, Malone added, were “sticking the Burberry check on anything they could.”
Many people on social media lamented that the expensive check-printed items are going up in flames:
Much of the backlash has come from environmentalists, who take issue with the waste.
Burberry told the BBC that “the energy generated from burning its products was captured, making it environmentally friendly.”
“Burberry has careful processes in place to minimize the amount of excess stock we produce,” the company said. “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.”
The company told Newsweek it was careful to minimize excess stock.
“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,” Burberry said in a statement.