German retailer Tchibo has called on the country’s government to regulate the garment industry and enforce better working conditions, as it continues to pursue a fully ‘sustainable’ production chain.

Nanda Bergstein, who handles corporate responsibility for the company, was saying that: “Voluntary initiatives are no longer sufficient” to reach the aforementioned sustainability goal, which Tchibo set itself in 2006.

She continued, “If we don’t pay higher wages now, ‘fair fashion’ will remain an illusion,” arguing that all German market big names should join an initiative on living wage called ACT. She also said that the governments of nations where the company’s textiles are sold should exert pressure on the governments in supplier nations to enforce higher wages and better working conditions.

In February, the German Development Ministry staged a forum where participants debated ways of shaping globalisation in a fairer way. Ahead of the forum, there was international criticism of the German government’s perceived failure to help ratify the current state of the issue. And in autumn 2018, the United Nations criticized the German Government for not introducing legislation that would help improve the conditions for workers in overseas supply chains.

But Tchibo’s mission will be hard to achieve. It itself notes how difficult it would be to get all European garment retailers organised in associations such as ACT, due to companies in low-wage nations competing over who can offer production with the lowest labour costs involved, boosting their revenue.

According to, the company recently made another attempt to find out how much government support it could expect. However, no breakthrough was reported.