The discounter will buy 330,000 shirts, trousers, polo tops and chinos made from cotton certified by Fairtrade, which partners with farmers and workers to secure them better prices and working conditions.
The uniforms are being rolled out to Lidl’s 22,000 store staff and will add up to 175 tonnes of certified cotton, according to the discounter.
“We’re delighted to be the first UK retailer to convert all of our store team uniforms to Fairtrade cotton, opening up a valuable market for Fairtrade cotton farmers around the world,” said Amali Bunter, Lidl GB head of responsible sourcing and ethical trade.
“Not only will this move significantly benefit the farmers who grow the cotton in our uniforms, but it will mean that our store colleagues will have access to uniforms made from high-quality, sustainably sourced fabric which they can wear with great pride.”
Lidl timed the announcement to coincide with Fairtrade Fortnight, the certification scheme’s annual awareness campaign, running from 21 February to 6 March.
Bunter added: “This new development builds on our long-standing commitment to Fairtrade, which sees Lidl GB sell over 100 different types of Fairtrade certified products every year, as well as being the UK’s largest retailer of Fairtrade cocoa – with 22% of the Fairtrade cocoa sold in the UK coming from Lidl GB.”
Fairtrade Foundation head of responsible business Anna Barker said: “Lidl’s uniform conversion means so much to cotton farmers who are finding themselves on the frontlines of the climate crisis and have suffered so much as a result of the global pandemic. To be able to sell their cotton on Fairtrade terms will help build farmers’ resilience and mean better prices plus a bit extra to invest in community projects.”