“We compete fiercely but fairly” asserts Saga Furs Sales Director, Mikko Hovén. As a case in point, Saga Furs complies with all competition or anti-trust laws in all countries where the company does business. “Members of my team understand very clearly that they may not engage in any agreements or informal understandings among competitors that might interfere with the functioning of a competitive market system.”
Saga Furs plans its operations so that it doesn’t hinder new farmers or other customers from entering the market nor does it give unjustified terms to existing customers. “What this all means in practice,” says Hovén, “is that while we must all compete fiercely at the front lines of business, we should also play fair.”
Breaking or bending the rules or working with suppliers or customers who don’t play by the rules can lead to severe fines for the company and disciplinary actions. In addition, it can damage our reputation and lead to loss of business for both Saga Furs and our partners.
“The most important and incalculable value-add we can give our stakeholders is Saga Furs’ guarantee as an ethical business partner.”
Long-Term View Brings Sustainable Success
Interview with Julio Suarez-Christiansen, Business Director
“I’d rather source 10,000 skins over ten years than get all of them in one year with nothing for the next,” says Saga Furs Business Director, Julio Suarez-Christiansen. As the first boots on-the-ground contact for 80% of the company’s farmer suppliers abroad, Suarez-Christiansen also wants to instill this thinking in his suppliers.
“We’re not looking for one-hit wonders, which quickly fade away. We want to work together with our farmers in a sustainable partnership.” That means planning the right investments and making decisions that will, over time, nurture solid fundamentals and long-term business viability for both the farmers and Saga Furs.
“Why don’t farmers just sell skins directly?” Suarez-Christiansen asks rhetorically. “It’s because Saga Furs adds so much additional value to their products.” In-house, Saga Furs engages in product grading, quality control, and business intelligence sharing, among many others. “Saga Furs also helps farmers get the best product prices possible on the day by having the right sales policies and bringing the right customers into the auction room.” And there’s more.
Suarez-Christiansen, who oversees the company’s business in Scandinavia, Central Europe, and the US, increasingly finds himself a facilitator for stakeholder dialogue around corporate social responsibility. Whether at a remote farm in Poland or in the mid-west of the US, Suarez-Christiansen is bringing fur producers and fashion buyers together in ways that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. “Discussions on-site in farm kitchens are helping both partners see the link between investments into sustainable farming and consumer demands for ethical products,” says Suarez-Christiansen, who believes keeping this dialogue going will be key to ensuring sustainable business success for Saga Furs and its partners throughout the value network.
“Saga Furs has a history that goes back 80 years and we want to make sure we’re around for 80 years more.”
New anti-money laundering policy
During 2017, in response to a new EU Directive issued in July, Saga Furs established an Anti-Money Laundering Policy. Under the new policy, Saga Furs will no longer accept cash payments for goods, as a deposit, or allow cash withdrawals. The policy has also led the company to set up a know-your-customer protocol, which includes sanction checks, that all Saga Furs customers must go through.