Ethical Sourcing

With our extensive direct sourced, private label merchandise programme, we recognise that we have a special duty to protect the welfare of workers in our supply chain. Since 2004, we have been on a journey to continually improve and extend the scope and effectiveness of our programme.

We’re proud to have been one of the first large companies in New Zealand to create a formal ethical sourcing policy. In addition to a policy and guidelines to influence our suppliers, we also participate in several programmes and initiatives that work to benefit the people within our supply chain.

Our programme at large

Our policies, and a description of our due diligence and remediation processes are published on The Warehouse Supplier website. In practice, our due diligence is implemented through supplier pre-qualification processes (for new factories), ongoing factory monitoring (for active factories), and continuous improvement initiatives and training. Through these activities we strive to ensure that only factories which meet or exceed our standards can supply goods bearing one of The Warehouse’s private labels.

Working with factories

To qualify new candidate factories (from an ethical or labour standards perspective) we first invite the factory to submit any existing labour standard credentials they may have in the form of a recent audit report undertaken for another customer. This is to avoid unnecessary duplication and to minimise audit fatigue for factories. We take a cautious approach to such mutual recognition however, and in most cases, factories must undergo our own independent audit.

These audit findings are then assessed against our policy, especially for zero tolerance standards like child labour, voluntary labour, or non-transparent audit practices. The overall pass rate for new factory submissions in 2019 was 60%, ensuring that the factories entering our supply chain are up to standard from the outset.

Once a factory is qualified and manufacturing for one of our private labels, we maintain visibility of standards through an ongoing monitoring and continuous improvement cycle.

Our prequalification processes are intended to screen out poor performing factories before they enter our supply chain, however, should a zero-tolerance issue be encountered within an active factory, we suspend business and call for an immediate rectification of the issue. If this is not achieved, we permanently discontinue trading with that factory.

Read more about our work with our factories in our 2018-2019 Ethical Sourcing Report.

Our initiatives


In 2019 we partnered with non-profit Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) which operates HERproject in factories around the world. The HERproject initiative provides financial literacy and health awareness to empower women in the Bangladesh factories we work with.

We’re incredibly proud to be partnering with the programme and are even more proud to be the first organisation in New Zealand, and one of only two organisations in the Pacific region, to be supporting the workers who make our products through this initiative.

Learn more about our work with HERproject here and here.

Responsible Business Alliance

Migrant workers play an important role in many economies, including New Zealand’s, but they are often vulnerable to unwitting or deliberate exploitation, on a spectrum from unpaid overtime to modern-day slavery. In Malaysia, a country with a very high number of foreign migrant workers, our audit programme had uncovered some systemic problems associated with the recruitment of foreign migrants.

To address this, we invited two of our Malaysian partners, Muda Paper Converting (our leading school stationery supplier) and Evergreen Fibreboard (a leading supplier of flat pack furniture), accepted our invitation to join the Responsible Workplace Programme, an initiative designed to address poor recruitment practices and worker rights. This programme was developed by the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA)

Learn more about this initiative here.

Better Cotton Initiative

The Warehouse became a member of the Better Cotton Initiative in 2019. Through the Better Cotton Initiative, farmers receive training on how to use water efficiently, care for the health of the soil and natural habitats, reduce use of the most harmful chemicals and apply decent work principles.

Cotton is one of the most popular commodities in the world. Thanks to the work of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), the largest cotton sustainability programme in the world, farmers in the cotton supply chain can have a voice and can work to improve the sustainability of this vital crop.

Learn more about BCI here.

Ethical Sourcing Report

Every year we produce an in-depth ethical sourcing report, recapping our new initiatives, supplier and customer surveys, current trends in the ethical sourcing space, and what we’re setting our sights on for the year to come.

Read the 2018/2019 report here.