PARIS — Kering is applying its sustainability ambitions to the python trade.
Amid rising demand for luxury goods made of precious skins, the French group today unveiled plans to back a three-year research program to shed light on a still shadowy supply chain, centered in Southeast Asia.
Challenges include being able to trace skins and know if snakes, whether captured in the wild or bred in captivity, were treated humanely, said Marie-Claire Daveu, chief sustainability officer and head of international institutional affairs at Paris-based Kering.
Ensuring a sustainable supply of two key species — Burmese and reticulated pythons – also supports the livelihoods of rural people in impoverished regions, she noted.
Kering teamed up with the International Trade Center and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature for what’s dubbed its Python Conservation Partnership.
In an interview, Daveu said Kering hopes to effect industry-wide change and would share some of its findings with the public, government agencies and other international bodies.
Research is to delve into ways to differentiate wild and farm-raised snakes; to monitor and improve both wild capture methods and captive breeding; to promote high standards of animal health and welfare; and to probe how the snake trade impacts local communities.
“If you want to reduce your footprint as a company, you have to know the details of your supply chain,” she said. “People are more and more concerned about biodiversity…. Sustainability is part of the quality of our products.”
The research program is to be managed by a steering committee composed of boa and python expert along with executives from Kering and its largest luxury brand, Gucci.
Daveu said Kering would not rule out acquiring python tanneries or farms as a way to heighten sustainable practices. Sustainable and transparent sourcing for snakes lags behind methods for crocodiles or other animals.
Earlier this year, Kering acquired a majority stake in France Croco, an elite producer of tanned skin located in the Normandy region of France.
Securing raw materials — particularly exotic skins and watch components — has emerged as a key strategic thrust for Europe’s luxury goods groups.