EGADE Business School Mexico
ESADE Business School Barcelona
Starting in 2001, Inditex’s Sustainability Department promoted with the Group’s business units a unique chain that remained largely unknown to the general public: for&from. This labor inclusion project for people with mental disorders hinged on the creation of stores in collaboration with social organizations, following a franchising scheme. Inditex made an initial investment on these stores that maintained the image and quality that characterized the Group’s chains. Inditex’s brands sold their excess inventory at discount prices to these social enterprises, which, in turn, marketed them at outlet prices. The project intended to build an optimal support ecosystem for people with special needs, so that they would learn about retailing jobs, strengthen their self-esteem, and eventually manage to integrate themselves into society. This scheme relied on long-term partnerships with social organizations, with which Inditex built a hybrid value chain. By 2017, the program featured 13 stores in nine towns, with over 150 mentally-challenged employees, and it engaged five social organizations –namely, Fundación Privada el Molí d’en Puigvert (“Molí Foundation”), Moltacte, Cogami, APSA, and Fundación Prodis (“Prodis Foundation)– as well as five Inditex chains –Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho, Pull&Bear, and Tempe (a footwear and accessory manufacturer that supplied all chains).
In the ensuing years, the program grew gradually, and by 2017 Inditex realized that it needed to assess options and make critical decisions about the social venture’s future. Would it prove wiser to take this program online? Should Inditex carry this scheme to other countries? Did it make more sense to expand further in Spain first? How was the program’s actual impact measured? Would it be best to create multi-brand outlets? Many questions filled program heads’ minds at this juncture.