Bergans of Norway

Forever Pioneers

Monday 3 June 2013, by MariKristina

0 inspired

A. The main facts about the activities of the company.

Bergans of Norway (or just Bergans as most people call the brand) business dates back to 1908, when Ole Ferdinand Bergan invented and patented the world’s first anatomical rucksack. His idea to “dress up” and stabilize the rucksack turned out to be the start of an adventure that has evolved over 100 years. Today, the company is well known for their innovative approach to business; high technology and “green values” influence all part of how the business operates. This valuable characteristic has also won the brand international recognition and several awards worldwide. Today the company has the position as market leader of the outdoors brands in Norway and is among the leading manufacturer of advanced outdoor equipment and functional clothing in the world.

B. The Ethical challenges this company is addressing.

As a major supplier of outdoor equipment and clothing, we recognize the importance of taking responsibility for our natural resources and contributing to the development of a sustainable future

Bergans are well aware of the impact their business has on the environment and are therefore addressing these issues in all parts of the manufacturing process and beyond. These are the ethical challenges the company address;

Materials
The products consist of both natural and synthetic materials. In the process of developing new materials, the impact these materials will have on the environment has to be taken into consideration.

Chemicals
Bergans outdoor equipment and functional clothing are of high quality; water and wind resistant, light weight, easy to use and so on. To produce products with this functionality chemicals are impossible to avoid. Furthermore, the textile production taking use of chemicals in the processes of coloring, printing and washing. Chemicals can be very harmful, not only to the environment but also to the workers, suppliers and customers.

Production
All Bargans products are designed, developed and tested in Norway. However, the company does not own fabrics themselves. The products are produced in China trough different suppliers with their own fabrics. E.g. one supplier being expert on sleeping bags produce all the sleeping bags, another supplier, expert on rucksacks, produce all the rucksacks. There is a challenge making sure that the production is done safe and ethical; not harmful to the en environment and with good conditions for the workers.

Distribution
The packaging is used in transportation, sales and promotion. Waste is a concern that constantly needs to be improved in order to minimize the negative environmental impact.

Consumers use of their product
Most of Bergans products are made to be cleaned in the washing machine. This means that the customers will use more electricity, water and detergent when buying the products.

The company as a whole
Employers working environment, energy consumption, procurement and use of materials, waste handling, transportation and greenhouse gas emissions are all issues that needs to be addressed for a business concerned about CSR.

C. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it?

It is both natural and beneficial for us to put working with the environment and ethical trade on our agenda, and we have therefore involved every part of our organization in this

Bergans proves their ethical values and commitment to the environment in various ways;
• transparency of the business as a whole
• membership of various associations supporting ethical trade and protection of the environment
• supporting projects and organizations working on sustainable projects
• awards
• accredited certifications

Bergans is today a well-known and established brand among outdoor enthusiasts and professionals. The company has selected a team of people, each one prominent in their own field of outdoor sports, to promote the brand. These people also contribute to the development of new products and the improvement of existing ones. The people of the team are genuine outdoor enthusiasts who care about the environment, which make the collaboration with the brand very real.

The company is also working on meeting all ethical challenges addressed (see above) with a solution. Some of the measures the company has introduced in doing so are;

• All suppliers have to sign Bergans Code of Conduct (CoC) which is based on FN’s human right principles and the ILO conventions.

• Bergans makes sure all suppliers are following the CoC trough fabric inspections, frequent communication and improvement programs.

• Through the membership of Ethical Trading Initiative Norway (IEH) the company has committed themselves to work in accordance with the organization’s ethical guidelines for purchases, such as making improvements with regard to human rights, employment rights, development and environment.

• Bergans are officially recognized by the Environmental Lighthouse, a certification which is supported and recommended by the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment. This means that the company meets the requirements related to working environment, energy consumption, procurement and material consumption, waste management, transport and greenhouse emissions.

• The company is a member of “Green point”- the industry’s tool (in Norway) to meet the requirements for recycling of packaging set by the government.

• Bergans supports the organization Mountain People, a voluntary organization operating in the mountains of Norway and Nepal working on projects where mountain people in Norway help mountain people in Nepal to establish long term sustainable projects. Bergans supports with mountain equipment and clothing and meet all administrative expenses – in this way all donations go directly to the given projects.

D.The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

Through the 90’s the brand was very popular among military forces – since this is also people spending a lot of time outdoors. The brand has worked hard to position themselves as the number one “extreme sports and expedition brand” – the image Bergans holds today. However, no matter how good the marketing strategy might be, there is always a risk of “wrong people” taking the brand to their hearts.

For a company with such a complex supply chain it is extremely difficult to make sure that the company’s values are equally strong to all workers and suppliers involved. The long distance between the fabrics in China and the HQ in Norway where all products are transported for testing is not especially efficient or environmental friendly either. I think the company can do a lot of work on their operations to simplify and achieve greater control of their supply chain.

Investment in technology that develops products with the same superior quality, but completely without damaging chemicals and materials should be a goal for the Bergans business; this is not only a selling point of their products but also an opportunity to take a step further in the process of improving the industry they are operating in even more.

So, what did I learn from this company? Reading about Bergans made me realize that companies doesn’t only have ethical responsibilities towards its operations, workers, environment and community in the time of production; the product’s lifetime cycle is as equally important. What happens with the product when it has served its purpose? Do the materials used in the production enable an organic “ending process” or will the product harm the environment with its chemicals? Furthermore, can you as a consumer of the product do anything to minimize the harm of the product when you are done using it? I believe, and have learned that all people regardless occupation or nationality, are responsible to make a “better world”. As Bergans tries to improve every part of their organization in a more ethical way, we as consumers of their products should follow up and make sure that the process they started does not end in the retail stores.

Bibliography

http://www.bergans.no/samfunnsansvar
http://www.proff.no/selskap/bergans-fritid-as/hokksund/-/960400917/
http://www.outdoorindustry.org/news/industry.php?newsId=17740&action=display
http://www.breakingtravelnews.com/focus/article/bergans-of-norway-expands-uk-market-with-innovative-new-range/
http://www.mountain-people.org/
http://etiskhandel.no/English/index.html
http://www.miljofyrtarn.no/
http://bergans.com/

Location: Hokksund (Norway)

Sector: Manufacturing, Wholesale and retail trade

Official website: http://www.bergans.no/

Key figures:

Revenue: NOK 700 million/ USD 121 million (2012)
Employees: 120 (Norway) 35 (Germany)
Locations: License agreement with retailers in 30 countries worldwide

Nbr. visits: 1436