Christian fair trade business Traidcraft could stop selling goods

Wed 19 Sep 2018
By Cara Bentley

A fair trade business which started in churches could end trading, citing an unsustainable business model.

In a statement to supporters, CEO of Traidcraft plc Robin Roth said: "Traidcraft plc's recent trading has been poor, and despite enormous efforts by staff, management, Fair Traders, and many fair trade shops over the last few years to reverse the company's performance we have not yet succeeded."

Traidcraft's charity branch, Traidcraft Exchange, will continue to support farmers and lobby government through its charitable arm and the decision about closing the trading arm is still in a consultation period and not final. 

Traidcraft plc started in 1979, selling fairtrade coffee, sugar and chocolate as well as rugs and handmade baskets from Bangladesh. They started selling at church stalls and at markets, with a philosophy of close interaction of those who made the products and cutting out the middle-man. 

They went on to sell fair trade clothes and wine.

Roth went on to say in his statement: "Traidcraft plc's mission to put the principles of fair trade into commercial practice is not, in any sense, fulfilled but we appreciate that it is time to consider new approaches.

"We are very much aware of the impact that this will have on our producer friends. Over the years we have built up personal and trusting relationships with many organisations and we deeply regret that these will be coming to an end. We are communicating with all our partners to see if we can help them transfer their business to other organisations."

He emphasises that the staff's passion for the issue of fair trade has not changed and that they are grateful for potential doors opening elsewhere: "Many supporters have already offered encouragement, support and offers of investment in any new model. We are immensely grateful for this feedback and we wish to capture all of it.

"It is unusual for a company to consult publicly with its supporters, but Traidcraft plc is not a normal company: we embody a mission shared by thousands. Although we believe our current model is not sustainable, we remain passionate about fair trade and are considering other models for the future that will help us continue making the case for trade that is just."

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