Avoidance of corruption and anti‑competitive behavior
Ethically correct and lawful conduct includes the prevention of corruption and anti-competitive behavior. HUGO BOSS expects all employees to act lawfully in day-to-day business operations. For HUGO BOSS, corporate compliance is a key responsibility of the Managing Board and includes measures to ensure adherence to legal and official regulations, and internal guidelines and codes. These include anti-corruption, anti-bribery, and antitrust regulations.
The central Compliance department reports directly to the CFO in his role as Chief Compliance Officer and supports him in the monitoring of effective compliance management. Together with the compliance officers in the Group companies, the department ensures the implementation and continuous development of the compliance program. The Audit Committee of the Supervisory Board is kept regularly informed of the Compliance department’s activities. In addition, all material developments in the field of compliance are made available to the Audit Committee in an annual compliance report.
Compliance management at HUGO BOSS aims at Group-wide legally compliant behavior. The aim is to prevent legal violations such as corruption, bribery and antitrust violations, which may result not only in reputational and financial risk but may also lead to personal consequences under criminal and labor law.
All employees of the HUGO BOSS are required to comply with the Group-wide Code of Conduct and supplementary specific compliance rules, such as an antitrust law guideline and a capital market guideline. Both the publicly accessible Code and the internal guidelines are reviewed regularly and the content is updated, especially with regard to changes in legal requirements. For example, the Code of Conduct was comprehensively revised in 2021 and supplemented with additional content, including in the areas of sustainability, diversity and IT security. In addition, the Company is currently revising its internal sourcing policy with the aim of completion by 2022. In addition, Group companies are subject to regular risk analysis and detailed audits where applicable. Any infringements are reported to the Managing Board and the Supervisory Board.
A Group-wide e‑learning program to be completed by all employees with computer access shall raise awareness of the compliance rules. Since 2021, the program has been available in Turkish, Italian, and Chinese, making a total of seven languages going forward. Employees in positions where compliance is particularly relevant receive online face-to-face trainings on specific topics that are of relevance to them, such as antitrust law. HUGO BOSS does not tolerate any willful misconduct or serious compliance infringements.
At HUGO BOSS, employees, suppliers and trading partners can notify an external ombudsman in confidence if there are any indications of fraud, infringements of antitrust law or other compliance violations. If desired, it is also possible to do this anonymously. The ombudsman’s contact data can be found on the Company’s website and in the Company-wide intranet. In addition, a whistleblowing portal was established in 2021, which offers the opportunity to report misconduct and criminal offenses in the Company confidentially and anonymously.
In 2020, the Danish Competition Authority identified an antitrust violation concerning an alleged disclosure of information with regard to prices and quantities of HUGO BOSS to local trading partners. However, HUGO BOSS took a contrary view on this and accordingly filed a complaint with the relevant appeals board, which was rejected by three votes to two in court in mid-2021. In order to continue to safeguard all its rights and in light of the close decision of the appeals board, HUGO BOSS is currently asserting its rights at the Danish Maritime and Commercial High Court. A final decision in this case is not expected before 2023. No fine has been imposed so far. Beyond this, in 2021, no further violations in the sense of legal violations due to corruption, bribery or antitrust cases established by authorities or courts were identified in the Company (2020: no violations).