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H&M plans to boost purchase from BangladeshFriday, October 17, 2014 > 11:52:00
Swedish apparel retailer H&M will increase its volume of business in Bangladesh as the country has significantly improved its safety and labour rights, the company's top boss said yesterday.
“H&M is a growing company and we hope to grow further in Bangladesh. Although I am here on a short two-day visit, it was good as I met with suppliers, trade union leaders and different stakeholders and discussed different issues,” Group Chief Executive Karl-Johan Persson said.
Persson met leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association at the H&M office in Dhaka to discuss relevant issues and visited a couple of factories.
“Bangladesh has improved a lot in quality and prices, which is great, and we are looking for sustainability here,” he said after a meeting with Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed at the secretariat in Dhaka.
“We are satisfied with the present situation in the RMG sector in Bangladesh. Economic growth in the country is also impressive. A lot of improvements have taken place in the factories, which will greatly benefit the country,” Persson added.
However, Bangladesh needs to address three important challenges -- industrial relations, environmental issues and poor infrastructure -- for sustainable business growth, he said.
This was his first visit since the Rana Plaza building collapse. Earlier, Persson came to Dhaka in September 2012 when he announced the company's plan to double sourcing from Bangladesh and do business worth $3 billion in the next five years.
H&M is the largest apparel buyer for Bangladesh, sourcing products from more than 250 factories.
H&M has six different brands and 3,300 stores across the globe. The brands are H&M, COS, Monki, Weekday, Cheap Monday and Other Stories. The company also buys garment from China, Vietnam and Cambodia.
The commerce minister, in his meeting with Persson, said the inspections by the two foreign agencies -- Accord and Alliance -- is a matter of pride for Bangladesh as they found more than 98 percent factories to be safe.
The Accord, a European sponsored platform of 186 retailers and brands, and the Alliance, a platform of 26-US based retailers and brands, shut down only three factories after inspections of nearly 1,800 factories.
“We can now proudly say that our factories are safe as the inspections were conducted by independent bodies,” said Ahmed.
“After the Rana Plaza building collapse, we have taken several electrical, structural and fire safety measures in the factories so that no more industrial disasters take place.”
The government has also waived duties on the import of safety equipment so that the garment makers can build safe factories at cheaper costs, he added.
“We want H&M to come to Bangladesh in a bigger way. We have also successfully addressed child labour issue as the ILO declared the country free from child labour in 1995,” Ahmed said.
Bangladesh amended the labour law allowing full freedom of association by the workers and the government is now working to amend the EPZ (Export Processing Zone) law so that workers in the specialised zones can form trade unions, he said.
Fewer than 100 trade unions were allowed in Bangladesh over the last 30 years, but more than 208 unions were allowed in the last year and a half.