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Puma has committed to a new initiative designed to improve environmental, health and safety and social standards in its supply chain.
The German shoe and sportswear company is collaborating with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, to provide financial incentives to suppliers in emerging markets.
This is the first agreement of its kind to be reached between a European brand and IFC.
The scheme will begin with a focus on Asia, with the first phase being rolled out in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam.
Puma will rate its suppliers through an auditing process evaluating their adherence to the company's social and environmental standards.
IFC will use a financing structure with tiered pricing of short-term working capital, providing lower costs for suppliers that score highly in Puma's assessments.
Lars Soerensen, the sports brand's chief operating officer, said this programme will enable suppliers to leverage their relationship with the company and benefit from its strong reputation and financial position.
Sergio Pimenta, IFC director of manufacturing, agribusiness and services, said: "This agreement with Puma advances IFC's efforts to encourage small and medium companies such as Puma's suppliers to improve environmental and social sustainability while achieving strong financial results."
The first firm to join the funding scheme is Ball Planet, a supplier of soccer balls with production facilities in China, which has had a business relationship with Puma since 2010.
Ken Hong, general manager of Ball Planet, said the company was keen to sign up to the initiative, given how difficult it can be to access affordable financing.
"This innovative programme will not only help us improve our cash flow, but will also provide us with a financial incentive to improve our environmental, health and safety and social standards, which will ultimately reduce our operating costs and enhance our performance," he added.
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