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Leather

We use several leather makers at ELK selected for their speciality skills and credentials. As much as possible we like to work with fully vegetable tanned or semi-vegetable tanned leathers. This is a specific tanning skill which yields unique results and a very natural appearance on leather. Our speciality supplier for this has worked closely with us to produce a unique finish which has become our signature. This family owned business was established in Chennai, India in 1997 and is run by a team of leather professionals led by the inspirational owner.

This factory is impressive for their reporting, planning, structure and commitment to constantly strive to improve the living standards of all their employees. They do this by providing exceptional standards over and above the minimum requirements.

“We educate all our employees on health, hygiene, financial literacy and legal rights. Special attention is paid to women and their socio-economic issues as well as their health issues. We promote gender equality - within and without our company by providing avenues for redress, including a sexual harassment committee, legal support and liaison with the government agencies that exist, including the courts and the police. We take every opportunity to teach our workforce to help themselves and provide moral, financial and legal support wherever necessary” - Managing Director.

We work closely with this company and visit the factory at least twice a year, liaising constantly with the owner and the team to ensure a high-quality product is achieved and to understand as much as possible about how the company operates and how they make our products. They have analysed and documented every single aspect of their operation and have dedicated teams in place who implement, manage and monitor. Below you will find some of the excellent initiatives by this Supplier - 

  • The company is a member of Sedex, and undertake annual Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) social compliance audits. Their 2017 audit found that they have no issues with social compliance and that many of the employee programs they have in place go above and beyond legal requirements.
  • The company currently employs approximately 17,600 people over two sites. The factory that makes ELK product employs 490 people, including 345 (70%) female employees.
  • All employees are above the minimum legal age, and the youngest worker is 25 years of age
  • All employees are on a full time salary with 100% paid above minimum wage. An increased bonus of at least 10% is paid which is above the legal minimum of 8.33%.
  • The company pays equal pay rates for equal work.
  • Employees work six days a week and a standard working week is no more than 48 hours. Any overtime is voluntary and paid at a premium of 2x the standard rate.
  • Working hours are not excessive, with the maximum overtime hours worked being 2 hours per day, 12 hours per month or 30 hours per quarter. The factory does not operate at night or on Sundays.
  • The supplier does not subcontract work and does not use any home workers.
  • A free company bus service is provided for employees to ensure easy and safe travel to and from work.
  • Safety equipment including face masks, aprons, eye protection, eye wash stations and gloves are provided. Through evaluation, some employees have been observed using safety equipment incorrectly and so the company is currently working to educate all staff on proper use and we will continue to implement this process.
  • The buildings are designed with passive cooling and an energy efficient mechanical cooling system when required.
  • Safe, clean drinking water is provided and is trucked in daily to ensure it is clean and fresh.
  • They have implemented a wonderful program for each employee to access a female psychologist. Over 18 months they interviewed every female employee to understand their background and any issues to ensure they are provided with all necessary support.
  • In addition to paying into the Government Health Care Fund, the factory provides a free weekly health clinic. Workshops are also held covering topics such as hygiene and nutrition as many of their employees lack education in this area.
  • Scholarships are provided to the children of 30 families. They are granted on merit and span all school grades as well as college going independents.
  • During the floods in 2015, the factory set up a fund for their employees to clean up and rebuild. In addition, they provided 24,000 meals to their staff and families during the crisis. This is just one example of their commitment to their workers and the local community.
  • The company is approved as an Eco Factory by major European brands. To achieve this, they have to score over 85% in a rigorous audit of all areas including health, safety, energy and water, and water disposal.
The company is broadly focusing on five key environmental areas including energy management, waste management, water management, light management and an environmental awareness program for employees. They have published an extensive Environmental Sustainability report and the findings are summarised below - 
  • The design on the working buildings has been considered for energy conservation and older buildings have been modified and improved to be better for the environment.
  • The building is positioned in an industrial area where raw materials are easily available to decrease transport impacts.
  • The site has exceptional water management facilities and harvests rain water. Only drinking water is brought in.
  • Every aspect of consumption has been analysed and charted and goals along with commitments for improvements have been placed against each element.
  • All leather scrap is either used, re-purposed or on-sold for use in different applications such as reconstituted leather boards, wristbands etc. There is no leather waste, everything is consumed 100%, nothing is dumped.