Outdoor retailer and multinational brand Kathmandu just raised the bar among global B-corporations.
Outdoor enthusiasts John Pawson and Jan Cameron opened the first Kathmandu store in 1987. They sold a small selection of outdoor apparel and gear, manufacturing most of the products themselves. Fast forward 30 years and Kathmandu has grown to a multinational presence, producing everything from fleece jackets to travel accessories.
Kathmandu Becomes a B-Corp
The retailer just became New Zealand’s first publicly listed B-corp and Australia’s biggest B-corp, according to the brand’s press release.
But what does a B-corp actually do? B-corporations are certified businesses that meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, or by self-definition, “using business as a force for good.” Essentially, brands with this certification work together to build a more ethical and inclusive global economy.
Kathmandu is the first outdoor retailer in Australia and New Zealand to join this global sustainable business movement. It’s also one of the largest outdoor brands to do so, with 166 stores across Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. This is a huge step in the industry for sustainably produced outdoor gear.
B Lab is a nonprofit that created the B-corp concept. It certifies companies’ efforts across five categories: governance, workers, customers, community, and environment.
To be impartial, B Lab has an independent advisory council to oversee the certifications. In order to achieve B-corp status, companies also agree to make their assessment results available to consumers.
B-corps are nothing new — there are more than 3,000 companies and brands around the world that have this certification. However, Australia and New Zealand produce more B-corporations per capita faster than any other region.
How Kathmandu Is Leading in Global Sustainability Efforts
Kathmandu’s achievement of this milestone as a multinational business is an example to companies worldwide. It sends the message that larger brands can be part of the movement. “Sustainability is part of Kathmandu’s DNA,” said CEO Xavier Simonet. “It’s integral to our entire operation.”
The company has gone beyond the standards of the B certification to also achieve a fair labor accreditation and approach a 90-percent zero-waste benchmark.
The outdoor brand’s high standards mean working in green buildings, using recycled cotton and polyester, and participating in the Ethical Fashion Guide. If you visit its website, you’ll instantly see the focus on sustainability. A bottle icon shows how many recycled bottles are used to make each clothing piece. It even has articles with advice on how to be a responsible traveler — keeping both the environment and local cultures in mind.
For full transparency, the brand offers a webpage on its environmental footprint, where you can further read about its sustainability efforts.