It is my pleasure to introduce our second Sustainability report following GRI G4 guidelines, covering the reporting period April 2015 to March 2016, disclosing on our sustainability processes and performance. I am glad to connect with you around this time each year on the occasion of publication of JST’s sustainability report. The report reaffirms our commitment to the ten principles of the United Nation’s Global Compact in the area of Human rights, Labour, Environment and Anti-corruption. We are aligned with our group’s sustainability vision which states:
“By 2017, the Aditya Birla Group endeavours to become the leading Indian conglomerate for sustainable business practices across its global operations, balancing its economic growth with environmental and societal interests”
At the Aditya Birla Group, sustainability in business is the holistic pursuit of a three-step agenda, namely:
- Managing business operations responsibly. This includes, but is not limited to, the creation of a safe working environment at all sites and work places, conserving energy and water, managing waste and emissions and the protection of human rights.
- The understanding of material issues of all stakeholders, their perspective, and usage of this knowledge to actively seek ways to create and share value with each of these stakeholder groups.
- Put in place steps that future-proof our business.
JST follows Aditya Birla Group’s Corporate Sustainability processes focusing on a series of proven commitments to our customers and communities; to the environment in which we operate; to our people and businesses; and, to our investors. We believe that our businesses do much more than just being an intermediary in the textile value chain. Improving lives and making a lasting difference in the communities in which we operate has always been part of our values and mission. We are committed to continual improvement in business practices by being socially responsible, balancing economic growth and constantly reducing our environmental footprint for the benefit of all stakeholders. We developed our sustainability roadmap in 2012-13 which identified focus areas, risks, and related mitigation plans. The enablers are:
- A strong sustainability governance framework at the Aditya Birla Group level
- Our sustainability committee and champions who have helped to strengthen the initiative
- Our existing management systems that have helped us to leverage and work towards integrating sustainability into our business strategy.
Our key focus areas in 2014-15 were: improving stakeholder engagement, carbon management and improving performance on economic and social parameters including human rights.
The endeavour to pursue our environmental sustainability roadmap continues with the same zeal and commitment in 2015-16. We are on-track to achieve our targets for sustainable growth. Waste & effluent management and energy management are among the areas of strong focus. In addition to improving our performance on sustainability parameters, we have also utilized the Higg Index since 2013-14 to improve our sustainability performance in operations, markets and products. The sustainability IT platform and dashboards help us to track and monitor our performance, which is also reviewed by the Group’s Apex Sustainability Council. Our sustainability and CSR effort have won accolades around the world. Jaya Shree Textiles won the Silver award in GreenTech CSR awards 2015-16 in the textile sector. This is in recognition of our actions and commitment towards society and communities.
JST deals with two premium niche fibres: Linen(Flax) and wool. The overall business environment for us has remained stable over the last two years. On the supply side, global flax fibre production has remained steady, prices have increased by ~ 8 % over the last year in Euro term. However, the impact has been nullified with the Euro to INR conversion. Raw wool production decreased marginally in major wool growing countries, and prices in last two years have increased by around 25% and 6% in Australian$ and INR terms respectively. On the demand side, the overall domestic demand for Linen witnessed growth in H1, whereas it declined in H2 due to Rupee depreciation and conscious buying by customers.
Our linen fabric business is focusing on improvement in offerings in terms of finish, designs & colours; ramping up distribution through geographical expansion by filling up the gap in trade and retail distribution. The business has entered the ready to wear segment through Linen Club Apparels to maintain an edge in the market.
In the case of Wool Business, fluctuating wool prices coupled with volatile cross currencies and continued slowdown in Europe and Japan have been the main challenges. However, demand from India and other Asian countries is showing an increasing trend. Among these challenges, it has been increasingly imperative for the business to sustain the growth and margins through continuous process improvement, design & development, and product innovation. The wool business is focusing on the core European market for growth in volume and also protecting margin increasing value added products like various wool blends with Cashmere etc. in the product portfolio.
Going forward, we have a unique opportunity to grow and lead our industry to greater heights with a strong focus on our customers, products and culture on innovation and collaboration.
I look forward to your support as we continue on this journey.
Mr Satyaki Ghosh(CEO – Domestic Textiles)
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