Traidcraft goes back to the future with a new pioneering plan for ethical trade.
Board accepts a plan for a slimmed-down Traidcraft with fair trade, community buying, transparency and ‘market disruption’ at its heart.
The Board of Traidcraft has accepted a plan for the future of the plc which has room for 12 employees and will begin its work at the start of 2019. It will maximise the profitable parts of the business, phase out loss-making lines, create a membership culture and set a new high bar for ethical trading in the UK.
As such, Traidcraft wishes to build on the extraordinary success of fair trade for a new generation of trading, sourcing and buying, in the manner of its pioneering fair trade founders.
The plan came forward during a legal consultation process. It was written by a group of staff, supported by external advisers, and influenced by hundreds of well-wishers who offered ideas.
At its heart is an aspiration to make transparent the costs, prices and profits involved in every product it sells, which carries on the fair trade tradition of challenging and disrupting the market.
CEO Robin Roth said: “We want our members to be co-conspirators in changing how trade is understood and practiced. We want to tell consumers who gets what from the Traidcraft products they buy. We want to annoy and irritate those who profit unduly through the non-transparency of their trading activities. We will cause good trouble, just as those six fair trade pioneers who started Traidcraft did back in 1979.”
Acknowledging the changes over four decades of fair trading, Robin continues:
“Traidcraft has transformed shopping in the UK, and now you can find fair trade everywhere, from online shops to petrol stations. But as times change, so must we. When new markets are searching for goods that are ethical, vegan and organic as well as fair trade, we need to be there. As younger people demand cooperative models of doing business, we need to strive for that too.”
Traidcraft will initially focus more deliberately on its established partners and advocates, who are predominantly active in Christian churches. Traidcraft’s 4,300 Fair Traders, 85% of whom are motivated by faith, will be able to access a new version of the company they already do business with. Further to this, products will be available to all consumers through the online Traidcraft shop and by mail order.
Returning the business to profit will involve a simpler range of products. The new Traidcraft will:
- establish core grocery lines
- carry fewer craft lines
- encourage communities to buy cooperatively and in bulk, saving on packaging and benefitting the planet
- deliver discounts through a membership model for supporters.
All of Traidcraft’s 67 members of staff have faced redundancy through the legal consultation process; 22 of whom chose voluntary redundancy, and a further 45 were issued notices of redundancy. There will be 12 roles available within the future plan for the organisation, which all staff will be welcome to apply for. Around 10 additional members of staff will remain on an extended contract for a transitionary period.
As you’ll have heard, Traidcraft plc has recently been going through a period of consultation. We’ve received hundreds of messages of support from shareholders, customers, Fair Traders, fair trade retailers, staff, suppliers, and producers, and it’s all contributed to this latest update.
It’s the passion and drive of these communities which has proven to our Board that Traidcraft’s mission isn’t yet over. There’s still work to be done, and we know we’re the ones to do it. Our Board is currently investigating a proposal which would mean Traidcraft is downsized, but transformed into a fair trade business of tomorrow – fit for purpose (and success) in the 21st century. We’d be back to our pioneering roots, changing the world in ethical ways which mean the most to modern citizens. If the proposal is accepted, Traidcraft would continue to operate and you’d continue to shop with us – changing the lives of artisans and growers worldwide.
Our Board believes that this transformation is possible, as long as our loss-making model changes too. Downsizing will unfortunately be an essential part of our journey. While this proposal is being considered, it’s been unavoidable that current staff have been formally served notice of their redundancy. The new model is being developed by internal staff and external advisors in the coming few weeks, and these plans will, we trust, result in new opportunities in the transformed Traidcraft. We expect to issue further details regarding our plan in the week commencing 5th November 2018.
But restructuring isn’t only about a number of employees, it’s fundamental to the heart of the company. We arose from a social movement driven by commitment and shared beliefs, and our Board is looking to embed these values in the company’s legal structure.
This restructuring process will also have an effect on our producers. We’re proactively working with our sister charity, Traidcraft Exchange, to identify the producers most at risk and provide the support they need. Traidcraft Exchange will be launching an appeal this Christmas to raise funds for this work. If you’d like to be kept informed about this, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your details.
We have a lot to do in the coming few months, but we’re hopeful that we now might have sight of a bright new beginning for Traidcraft plc. In 1979 we introduced fair trade to the UK, and at the turn of our 40th year we’re planning to do it all again, working in new ways to make trade fairer for people and the planet.
We ask you to keep purchasing from us to invest in this bright future. Our autumn/winter collection is the biggest and most impactful range we’ve ever had. Shop with us, and make a difference.
For many years Meet the People Tours have enabled supporters to visit producers and see the impact of fair trade and Traidcraft’s work. Organised and operated by Skedaddle, these tours will continue to be a celebration of the wonderful work of fair trade producers and an opportunity for an inspiring holiday with a difference for ethical travellers www.meetthepeopletours.co.uk
Ethical consumption is challenged in difficult economic climate
Traidcraft plc, the Fairtrade pioneers whose church-based retailers have transformed shopping in the UK, subject to consultation, could cease trading by the end of 2018 unless a solution can be found in the coming month.
The plc, which generates £10m in annual sales was founded by six people in Newcastle in 1979. It’s now in formal consultation with staff and other stakeholders following recent poor trading figures. The business has experienced shocks caused by the decision to leave the EU, and along with other retailers, sales have been hit by economic uncertainty and stagnating wages.
Chief Executive Robin Roth said:
“We are the sort of business that pays up front – that’s in our nature as an ethical business. So when the pound fell after the Brexit referendum, we took a hit. We also stand by our published prices, so unlike other retailers we stood by our customers, absorbed a lot of the additional cost, and kept price rises to a minimum.”
These factors, together with a disappointing online relaunch, contributed to the decision by the Traidcraft board to propose to cease trading at the end of the year unless a solution can be found. Traidcraft plc’s charity arm, Traidcraft Exchange, is a separate organisation and will continue its work with producers and in campaigning and lobbying for trade jus-tice in the UK regardless of what happens to Traidcraft plc.
All the plc’s 68 staff, based at Traidcraft HQ in Gateshead, are facing redundancy.
Traidcraft’s 4,300 Fair Traders, 85% of whom are motivated by faith, account for about half of Traidcraft’s revenue. Their sales of tea, coffee, cards and crafts at church fetes and school fairs have even changed the buying decisions of major supermarkets.
“Our wonderful, committed Fair Traders make a daily difference in the life of fledgling enterprises in hard-to-reach parts of the world”, says Robin. “Because of their love for the cause, Fairtrade got on the High Street, and a new generation is growing to understand justice as an everyday matter.”
Fair Traders, customers, and supporters have been encouraged to continue supporting Traidcraft plc as a good autumn season is a pre-requisite if the company is to have a future model.
Alliances between Fair Traders and Traidcraft’s charity arm will continue, by means of fundraising events, donations and campaigning for change, even if trading ceases.
The Chief Executive wants people to get in touch with ideas for a future for Traidcraft plc: email@example.com
All media enquiries to W North:
Christian Cerisola 0191 375 9100 or 07824 553170 firstname.lastname@example.org
Becky Beaumont 0191 375 9100 or 07875 649303 email@example.com