Open Communication and Value-Chain Management
Interview: Tytti Hämäläinen, Senior Communications Manager
One Continuous Stakeholder Dialogue
“From the farming community hall to the auction lunchroom; and from our fashion design center to our annual Fur Vision,” Senior Communications Manager, Tytti Hämäläinen says, “we’re engaged in one continuous stakeholder dialogue.”
The company’s auctions, held four times a year, make for an optimal cross-sector gathering point for Saga Furs core stakeholders. Auction guests include Saga Furs executives and sales reps, Fur Association members, buyers and farmers, together with the media, government and local community members.
“We come together for multiple days, working and eating meals together in the same shared space,” says Hämäläinen.
Sharing sessions with farmer suppliers
The company also engages farmer suppliers at home in their own communities. The CEO and other management members, as well as industry experts, regularly travel to local fur farming areas for direct information sharing and pre-season training sessions with farmers. And when they can’t be in the same room, Hämäläinen says: “We’ve even launched a WhatsApp group for our farmers to respond to quick questions and information exchanges.”
According to Hämäläinen, young farmers in particular are very actively engaged on their cell phones at auctions and through the Saga Furs Digital Services, which provides a digital space for farmers to get up-to-date statistics on their products and market-related comparisons.
Fur Vision – Milan, Paris, New York, London, Beijing, Seoul and Shanghai
In September 2017, Saga Furs hosted its 17th annual event, drawing together leading fashion designers, fur trade partners, design schools, media and retailers.
“We try to make it a very open and friendly event, with everyone sharing together,” says Hämäläinen.
Despite the elevated haute couture of the designs on show, the conversations are very down to earth. More and more, the company’s fashion partners want to use the occasion to learn about Saga Furs as an ethical and responsible partner. “They’re very interested in our farm Certification Program and Traceability system, and want the peace of mind that comes from equating the Saga Furs name with ethical farming and sourcing.”
Lunchroom serves as open forum
We are sitting in Saga Furs’ cafeteria where the entire personnel, from warehouse workers, graders and experts to top management, share food and information. “You never know who you are going to have lunch with,” says Hämäläinen. The CEO is deep in conversation at the table behind us. “There are approximately 350 of us, so it’s easy to get to know the entire personnel.”
“I got to know my wife here,” calls one man from across the table.
Hämäläinen starts up a conversation with Peter Busi, who works in fox grading. Busi has worked at Saga Furs for 26 years.
He is talking about his job. “I like the diversity of my duties,” Busi confides. “When the busy season in grading is over, I get to do renovations or shovel snow on-call.” Besides him, Peter’s brother Rainer Busi agrees on the diversity. Rainer has worked for Saga Furs for 38 years. He is the fox grading supervisor, but also has another important role as the trusted engineer in charge of the company’s high-tech coffee machine.
Looking forward to 2018
Next year, Saga Furs is committed to communicating more widely and regularly with individual consumers. The company is already very active on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, sharing Fur Vision clips and up-to-date design information and fashion postings.
According to Hämäläinen, social media campaigns are planned for the year to open up a more high-quality dialogue among the growing number of ethically-minded millennials. “They care about ecology and many see real fur as the ecological choice, compared with the plastic-generated fake fur that goes into landfill. Consumers also want to know more about animal welfare standards. They want to know that the farm animals are raised humanely and that the environment is being taken care of.”
Expanding stakeholder engagement in Asia
Interview: Samantha Vesala, Business Director, Asia
Samantha Vesala (above, second from left) works a lot in Asia with customers, fur dressers, manufacturers, retailers and local consumers.
“More and more the people I meet are embracing sustainability,” Vesala affirms. “They care where the fur product comes from, where it can be traced back to, how the product has been made, and the way the animal has been treated.”
Vesala recently officiated at the launch of a new multi-stakeholder initiative in China called BIFTPARK-HN, which she says looks set to become Asia’s leading fur training and education academy. The new partnership is among a leading Chinese design school, Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology BIFT; Haining China Leather City (HCLC); and Saga Furs. The cross-sector model will work closely with the industrial fur cluster of the surrounding area.
Saga Furs’ know-how in fur craftsmanship draws from the company’s successful Denmark-based Design Centre, which since 1988 has been visited by over 30,000 guests from all over the world, including Chinese designers and design students.
“The Chinese market is very important to Saga Furs, which was the first international auction house to establish an office in China already 30 years ago. And this new venture will be an important new platform for continuous engagement.”
Saga Furs is the industry member with a stock exchange listing requiring financial disclosure only in the form of an Annual Report. As part of our commitment to transparency and in keeping with Saga Furs’ ongoing industry leadership in sustainability, the company voluntarily engages in regular sustainability reporting.
Saga Furs has also launched an internal Yammer group, opening up dialogue on a range of topics and inviting frank and open exchanges across the company. The service includes a ‘Management talks’ section providing quick updates on strategy, innovation and related postings and videos.
|Corporate Social Responsibility
“We see transparency as business critical at every phase of the value-chain phase,” says Tytti Hämäläinen. “As we expand internationally and stakeholder expectations increase, we’ve resolved to putting an ever greater focus on transparency.” During 2016, Saga Furs launched a new Corporate Social Responsibility function with the goal of creating a uniform approach to information sharing, target setting, reporting on progress, training, and responding to challenges and opportunities related to sustainability across the value chain.