How We Do Business
For the interest of all our customers and the general public, the following letter gives a comprehensive look at how
we make our products. We hope it provides you with a far more complete perspective on Roots and how we do
business. We welcome your comments.
Toronto, Fall 2014
Dear Roots Customer,
Global outsourcing is unquestionably a highly complex issue. To help you better understand this subject as it
relates to Roots, we would like to share with you aspects about our company, our products and how we make them.
This information relates to who we are, how we do business, the core values that guide us and our concern
for the communities in which we operate.
Based on the principles and leadership of our two Co-Founders Michael Budman and Don Green, Roots has
always been committed to highly ethical standards — whether it be in our stores, our offices, our own production
facilities in Canada or with our suppliers, both domestic and foreign, of raw materials and finished goods. We take
pride in who we are and what we do, from our product design to our customer service to our charitable
contributions and sponsorships of cultural and sports-related groups and events. We also take pride in our
success and take very seriously the social responsibility that goes with it.
In all aspects of our manufacturing process, we require that working conditions meet our stringent health, safety
and labour standards. We insist that the rights, dignity and wellbeing of all workers making Roots products be
respected. Roots suppliers, whether in Canada or abroad, operate according to the Roots Workplace Code of
Conduct. It sets forth the high standards Roots will accept in compliance with industry guidelines and
We are constantly examining everything we do and looking to see how we can do even better. This helps explain
why Roots is still so successful today, 41 years since it was founded in Toronto. This also applies to our
Over the years, we have made our Code of Conduct more stringent, more explicit, adding amendments to it that we
feel ensure even higher standards. You are welcome to consult it on our website.
The Roots Workplace Code of Conduct is aimed at ensuring that our suppliers uphold the standards of ethical
business practice consistent with the core values of Roots and our own demands for just and fair practices. The
Code is the result of consultation with experts in the field and is based on our concern for the health, safety and
dignity of those who make Roots products.
To ensure that suppliers meet our standards, they must commit themselves to our Code of Conduct before we will
work with them. To ensure compliance, a third-party organization conducts a thorough audit of our suppliers. This
is not a casual process as it’s conducted by an independent, internationally recognized organization devoted to
monitoring labour and safety conditions worldwide.
Through both announced and unannounced visits, the auditors inspect the workplace conditions where products
are made. If a factory is found to be in violation of any of the provisions in our Code, we work with the factory to
remedy the situation and conduct follow-up visits to monitor improvements. If such a supplier were not to improve
to meet our standards, we would terminate our working relationship with it.
We also provide training for all our production and sourcing staff to ensure that our own employees understand
and comply with Roots standards and guidelines. When looking at our manufacturing and supplier systems, we
must always balance four factors: Quality, compliance, price and delivery. Together, they are vital to our success.
The names of the suppliers with whom we contract are confidential proprietary information of Roots. Given the
highly competitive nature of this industry and the risk of counterfeit products, we, like most other companies
including our many competitors, do not publish the names and addresses of the factories we work with. We also
this out of respect for the privacy of these facilities. In the case of our own exemplary, state-of-the-art factory in
Toronto, we often host journalists, school groups and NGO members there. That’s how proud we are of
the conditions we maintain in our own factory.
For the longest while, we made most Roots products in Canada but over the years we have shifted some of our
manufacturing abroad as a result of technical, economic and capacity challenges.
The sad reality today is that there are increasingly fewer suitable suppliers in Canada, and certain products can no
longer be made in Canada. It’s a shame that free trade, globalization and the saturation of the Canadian market by
major US and European companies manufacturing overseas have made this situation worse. The result: the
technical capacity no longer exists in Canada to make certain categories of merchandise.
Roots is a major supporter of Canada, both on the national and global stage. In the fall of 2014,
we released a collection in conjunction with the David Suzuki Foundation promoting a new
environmental initiative in Canada. Most of the merchandise is made in Canada. Earlier in the
year, we worked with Canadian writer and artist Douglas Coupland on a special collection
following a previous collaboration with him in 2010 that celebrated Canada. In the summer, we
also launched a special collection of apparel (made in Canada) paying tribute to the work of
iconic Canadian artist Tom Thomson. A few months later, Roots released a collection (also made
in Canada) that spotlights the National Film Board of Canada, especially two of its major films.
As much as it’s possible and feasible, we still strive to make many Roots products in Canada, reflecting our
commitment to our Canadian heritage. It’s a major part of what Roots is all about and what we are as a company
and what our customers appreciate. In our stores and in our actions, we have always tried to showcase and
celebrate Canada, which is a major inspiration behind Roots. We are proud of the strong link between Roots and
Canada and are thankful for the support Canadians have long demonstrated for Roots.
We are proud of the international acclaim and recognition that Roots, as a Toronto-based Canadian company, has
attracted to Canada.
Roots still directly employs more than 1,500 people in Canada, including more than 200 at our leather goods
factory in Toronto. Canadian designers design all Roots products in Toronto. Indirectly, through our work with
various suppliers, we help contribute to the employment of thousands more people in Canada.
It’s not by chance that Roots has always had such a progressive reputation. People who have long been familiar
with our company know of the core values of integrity and quality that have governed Roots since its inception. On a
practical level, it translates into protecting the rights and dignity of all those involved in the making of Roots
products and ensuring that anything sporting the Roots name on it is made in decent, humane and professional
No brand can guarantee that every factory complies with every regulation every day of the year. But we can
guarantee the firm commitment and vigilance of the Roots co-founders and senior team to uphold these
standards. It’s an on-going process that demands diligence, patience and understanding of local cultures,
customs and laws. As such, Roots is actively involved in several programs that help us find solutions that benefit
Roots is dedicated to our obligations and responsibilities and we will do whatever it takes to continue to provide
the highest quality products in a manner consistent with our company’s principles and our customers’ high
expectations of Roots. This commitment is central and of paramount importance to our staff, our customers and
the public at large. We never lose sight of this.
You may also be interested in knowing that over the years Roots has responded positively to literally hundreds of
requests for charitable support. It’s part of our commitment to community support and social responsibility. Check
the Who We Support section on our website for a comprehensive list of the organizations and causes we have
supported in recent years.
Since Roots began, many of our products and styles have changed, but some things have not. These include the
core principles that have guided Roots since its inception. They are based on a genuine respect and appreciation
of people – those we work with and those who shop in our stores. But this sense of respect and appreciation
extends much further. It also applies to how we make our products and to the communities where we do
business. These values are as valid today as they were back in 1973. Perhaps even more so.
I hope this letter provides you with a better, more informed understanding of what Roots is all about and how we
do business. Please feel free to write me with your comments.
Director of Communication and Public Affairs