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Is Matalan ethical and sustainable?

Matalan is a fashion and homeware brand based in Merseyside, Britain. The Good Shopping Guide has given it a low ethical rating. Unfortunately, this brand receives a low Good Shopping Guide Ethical Score in our Ethical Fashion Retailers Ratings Table and has not yet met our minimum Ethical Benchmark. This brand has several areas to improve upon before it would likely qualify for our Ethical Accreditation.

In what areas does Matalan perform poorly for its ethics and sustainability?

For our Organic research criteria, Matalan does not score well as the brand has no accreditation, though the company is a member of the Better Cotton Initiative.

For its Code of Conduct, Matalan receives a middle score, as it is published for consumers and investors to read, but it lacks the detail expected from a large company. The brand is also not a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative, which supports companies to investigate their supply chains and identify better and fairer supply chain standards.

This company does not score well for its Human Rights violations and infringements. Following an ongoing salary issue, GMB Union members at a Matalan distribution centre in Liverpool started a walkout. Workers decided to strike after management offered what was referred to as an “insulting wage offer” that would have seen about 25% of workers who work weekends receive a pay raise of 1.5%. Workers were also concerned that a wage increase they had agreed to in April did not take effect until July, leaving them owing £135 in back pay. Employees claim that Matalan demanded that this be self-funded and that in exchange, they give up their extra bank holiday.

After the Sepia Garment factory in Cambodia suspended operations due to the COVID-19 outbreak in August, some 250 workers there joined protests over two months’ worth of unpaid salaries. Hem Sereysophea, a worker, claimed that the owner of Sepia had also fled and that the workers were owed two months’ salary. The coronavirus epidemic has led to a global shortage in demand, and more than 400 companies have shut down, according to the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia. According to the group, the closures have a negative impact on the employment of more than 150,000 people. Sepia Garment produces for Sainsbury’s and Matalan.

In what areas does Matalan perform well for its ethics and sustainability?

Matalan is a member of the Better Cotton Initiative, a governance group that seeks to support cotton producers and farmers to grow sustainable crops with low environmental impact.

Matalan also receives good marks for its Animal Welfare Policy, which mentions the Five Freedoms of animals; this is particularly important for a company that does use animals in its products.

How can the Matalan brand improve its Ethical Rating?

The Good Shopping Guide’s score results from 15 ethical criteria in relation to Matalan. To reach our Ethical Benchmark and qualify for our Ethical Accreditation, Matalan has several issues to deal with, including its poor business practices concerning Human Rights and gaining Organic accreditation.

If your fashion brand values ethics and sustainability, why not check out The Good Shopping Guide’s Ethical Accreditation? Increase customer and investor confidence and stand out from the greenwash.


Ethical performance in category


GSG score


GSG category benchmark


Ethical Rating


  • Environmental Report


  • Organic


  • Nuclear Power


  • Better Cotton Initiative


  • Fossil Fuels



  • Animal Welfare



  • Armaments


  • Code of Conduct


  • Political Donations


  • Ethical Trading Schemes


  • Human Rights


  • Human Rights+



  • Ethical Accreditation


  • Other Criticisms


= GSG Top Rating = GSG Middle Rating = GSG Bottom Rating