The safety and wellbeing of our people remained our highest priority in 2020/21.
We closed sites where we were required to under lockdowns, most notably across the EMEIA region. Where our sites could stay open, we were scrupulous about putting in place robust measures and ensuring they were adhered to so work could be conducted in a safe and secure environment. In line with government and health authority guidelines, these included staggered start and break times to manage social distancing, as well as temperature checks and installing additional sanitising stations.
Alongside regular virtual check-ins, during FY 2020/21 we came together in less formal ways to share advice on working remotely and maintaining wellbeing. This helped our teams to remain connected during this period of uncertainty.
Flexibility has been key to meeting the challenges posed by the pandemic. Outside our normal sick pay schemes, we provided paid leave for colleagues absent due to being ill with COVID-19 or self-isolating and unable to perform their work from home. Burberry teams around the world also volunteered their time generously, mobilising to help local communities and charities by preparing care packages, delivering meals, stocking food banks and supporting vulnerable neighbours.
As the COVID-19 crisis unfolded across the world, it was clear that mutual support and innovative thinking would be the cornerstones of our response, both as a business and a member of the broader global community. We leveraged our digital capabilities to stay connected with our customers by bringing innovative shopping experiences to them virtually (read more on page 32 of the Annual Report). Our event formats evolved over the financial year to include customer participation in virtual product launches and styling sessions.
We redesigned Burberry.com so customers can now explore individual products as well as styled looks. We introduced a new chat function so that our online retail teams can help with styling, sizing and recommendations. This helped our teams to stay connected with their clients and continue to provide the very best customer service. Where our stores were able to remain open we quickly implemented safety measures, including social distancing, sanitising stations and appointment bookings, in line with local government and health authority guidelines.
Inspired by Thomas Burberry, we contributed to the relief efforts. Early in the year, we retooled our factory in Castleford, Yorkshire to manufacture non-surgical gowns and we sourced surgical masks through our global supply chain. This amounted to more than 160,000 pieces of PPE that we donated to the UK government and healthcare charities. We are grateful to the many colleagues who volunteered to support this initiative during the national lockdowns in the UK.
In addition, we manufactured a further four million masks and 50,000 gowns at cost for the UK National Health Service. We contributed to the COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution through early donations to the University of Oxford’s emergency vaccine research and UNICEF’s COVID-19 Vaccines Appeal.
We continued our support of registered charities, including FareShare, The Trussell Trust and The Felix Project, which are dedicated to tackling food poverty across the UK. With pressure mounting on food supplies, the charities expanded their efforts to help those struggling as a result of the outbreak. This included setting up community produce hubs, delivering food to young people reliant on free school meals and providing more pre-packed food parcels to help food banks cope with increased demand. Burberry’s donation to The Felix Project funded the delivery of food equating to 495,000 meals across London, going to those who could not access basic nutrition.
To support creatives, artists and photographers facing greater uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic, we commissioned works interpreting our iconic product to showcase on our Instagram news feed. We launched this initiative as a way to celebrate and support members of the creative community. In a twist on our heritage of discovery and exploration, we also asked artists to respond to the theme of “Inside Nature” and offer their take on an outdoor world from within.