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Buyers urge solution to political crisis

Losses in the garment sector of Bangladesh are mounting everyday for the blockade and shutdowns, BGMEA reporting losses of Tk 6,710 crore in the January due to the political turmoil. The amount will be much bigger if the losses of all affected factories are calculated. On 25th February, Bangladeshi Prime Minister mentioned that the current blockade which has been running for almost two months in a row has caused loss of BDT 120 thousands crore already. And definitely it has become major concern for Bangladesh economy.

Many of the global buyers in Bangladesh initially thought it won’t affect their business process that much but over the days they understood it is hitting them hardly. On 2nd February representatives of 65 international retailers, who source garments from Bangladeshi factories, demanded an immediate solution to the current political crisis, saying the ongoing blockade is interrupting their supply chain. The retailers and brands expressed the concern at the regular ‘buyer forum meeting’ at Westin Hotel in Dhaka. The retailers also demanded the government keep the Dhaka-Chittagong highway free from political violence for the sake of a smooth supply chain.

all_logoLeading brands that sent representatives to the meeting include Walmart, Gap, JC Penney, C&A, Tesco, G-Star, H&M, Target, Inditex and Carrefour. The retailers who attended the meeting purchase garments worth $22 billion from Bangladesh a year — out of the total $25 billion worth of garment exports a year. According to an assessment by the BGMEA, 19 garment factories have lost $19.02 million worth of business in 18 days of blockades and shutdowns they informed. The companies incurred losses mainly due to orders cancellation, discount and expensive air shipment of goods.

According to BGMEA president due to political violence, garment makers or their representatives are travelling to Hong Kong, China, India, Thailand and European nations, spending thousands of dollars, to attend meetings with buyers that were initially planned to take place in Dhaka. Until now the buyers did not pull out of contracts, but they have warned that they will do so if the political crisis lingers. The buyers also said Bangladesh will face an image crisis again if the political impasse continues for long.

As a regular section Retailers Today is presentingsome activities of retailers which are needed to be followed by BTT readers. Any related information please mail to farhan@textiletoday.com.bd

Woman wearing headscarf to get justice over Abercrombie & Fitch discrimination

Recently, US supreme court hears arguments in religious discrimination case involving woman who was not hired because she wore a black headscarf to interview and most of the judges expressed their opinion by the side of the lady Samantha Elauf against Abercrombie & Fitch.

p-2The court criticised Abercrombie & Fitch’s for the rejection of a Muslim job applicant for wearing a headscarf. It opined that it is even conservative justices ridiculed the fashion chain’s “mythical preppy” rules on how employees can dress.

In a landmark religious discrimination case, brought by Oklahoma shop worker Samantha Elauf, lawyers for the store argued it need not have taken her religion into account when applying a rule against headwear because managers only guessed she was Muslim.

“I am not only standing up for myself, but for all people who wish to adhere to their faith while at work,” said Elauf in a statement issued from the steps of the court after the hour-long hearing. “Observance of my faith should not prevent me from getting a job.”

H&M beats Q4 earnings, plans to open 400 stores in 2015

Swedish fast fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz, the second largest clothing retailer in the world after Zara owner Inditex SA, reported record sales and earnings that beat expectations in the fiscal fourth quarter, but said it must keep up its heavy pace of investment in new products, market expansion and technology if it wants to stay competitive.

H&M’s pretax profit rose 7 percent to $953 million in the three months ended November, missing analysts’ average forecast of $973 million. Net income rose 13 percent to $760 million, slightly ahead of analyst forecasts of $756 million. Revenue rose 11 percent in local currency to $5.21 billion.

The Swedish company is investing heavily in new and higher-priced product lines in an effort to shore up margins eroded by the fierce competition from retailers like discount chain Primark and fast fashion players Forever 21 and Uniqlo. It will continue the expansion into new products and markets in 2015, with another 400 new stores added to its current 3,511 and websites in nine new European markets. Though most of its new stores would be in China and the US, it would also open its first stores in Taiwan, Peru, Macau, South Africa and India. It also intends to launch a new range of beauty products in the fall, to open homewear departments in about 100 stores, and to expand its upmarket brands like COS.

Wal-Mart to invest C$340m in Canada

Wal-Mart Stores Inc said it would invest about C$340 million ($269.16 million) this fiscal year to expand in Canada, lower than what it had budgeted for last year. Wal-Mart’s move comes less than a month after rival Target Corp  said it would exit Canada. Sears Holdings Corp  last year lowered its stake in its Canadian operations to about 12 per cent, after failing to find a buyer for its holding in the business.

Sales and margins at both Sears and Target have dwindled in Canada in the face of stiff competition from Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart said it would spend about C$230 million of the planned investment to complete 29 super centres, including the expansion of several stores to add full grocery departments. The company is also spending to expand its distribution network and its website, walmart.ca. Wal-Mart had planned to spend C$500 million in Canada in the last fiscal year.

Nike’s transitional active wear brings new aesthetic to women’s athletics

Nike is giving active wear a new face with a recently launched capsule collection of training gear that transitions with the movements of the body and follows the trend toward athletic wear merging with leisure garb. Nike Lab’s collaboration with Berlin-based designer Johanna Schneider aims to bring a new aesthetic to women’s training. The Nike Lab collection is modular and designed for versatility, featuring garments that adjust with activity levels. Based on the wearer’s activity, the items are fully adaptable and change their volume or position on the body during different workout stages.

p-3Inspired by the human body and its organic construction, Schneider has interpreted the clothing as a form of personal architecture. She created her own clothing patterns and reimagined the construction of workout garments with an emphasis on function. Nike’s expertise with innovation applications were put to good use in the placement of laser-cut patterns for breathability and the use of lightweight bonded finishes.

The collection includes the Nike Pro printed tights and bra, which offer a base layer for training. These feature Schneiders’ hand-painted artwork mapped to the body and have been designed to highlight key muscle zone interaction during exercise. Another garment, the sleeveless cape, is a versatile outer layer that can be worn open, cinched closed or tied around the hips as a warm-up skirt.

Inditex bans global angora sales

Inditex, parent company of Zara and Massimo Dutti, has banned the sale of angora wool in all of its stores worldwide after continued pressure from an online petition. Inditex joins Marks & Spencer, Topshop, Primark and Hennes&Mauritz who stopped selling angora clothing after an investigation and pressure from the animal rights organization.

In 2013, after investigating 10 angora farms in China, PETA released graphic footage of fur being ripped out of live rabbits in order to ensure the angora was as thick and long as possible. The footage also showed the rabbits screaming in pain, while their front and back paws were tied. After being plucked, the rabbits were pushed back into their cages, bald and bleeding.

After a petition pushing for an end to worldwide angora sales collected more than 300,000 signatures online, Inditex said it would suspend its angora orders until it could confirm that its farms were following company requirements. The retail giant has told, it will discontinue selling angora and donate the thousands of remaining angora wool garments to Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

PETA was pleased with this news. Ingrid Newkirk, the organization’s president, said, ‘Inditex is the largest clothing retailer in the world. When it comes to animal welfare policies, many of their competitors look to them and try to follow in their footsteps.’

C&A announced partnership with Women on Wings

C&A Europe and C&A Foundation jointly announced their partnership with the Dutch Social enterprise- Women on Wings. According to a report, the partnership will comprise volunteering activities by the C&A employees for companies where rural women of India get priority in recruitment. Employers of C&A will work on mentoring and coaching entrepreneurs in the field of production and preparing for garments, apparel and fashion accessories export to new markets. C&A officials stated that the goal is to increase turnover followed by new jobs and income for women.

From January 10 to 18, a first group of six C&A volunteers from the C&A office in Vilvoorde (Belgium) have traveled India to consult Jharcraft, a textile company, on how to induce markets for its products. Catherine Louies, official for Sustainable Business Development C&A Europe said, ‘In many of the countries that produce C&A apparel, such as India, small businesses and communities face intense economic, environmental and social challenges. Together with C&A Foundation, we focus on starting and scaling up projects that improve working conditions, skills and knowledge for the local people and communities. The partnership with the Dutch social enterprise Women on Wings follows this guiding principle and offers us the opportunity to share our business knowledge for a significant contribution in India.

American J.C. Penney reinstalls its catalogue

Around five years after the decision to eliminate its catalogue and to focus on the Web, J.C. Penney Co. is bringing it back, armed with data showing that many of its online sales came from shoppers inspired by what they saw in print. The reinstalled catalogue is a book of 120 pages with items from Penney’s home department and will be sent to select customers in March 2015, and for the first time since 2010. The cease of the catalogue was leading to the loss of a lot customers. The catalogue was originally launched in 1963. In 1993 Sears stopped its catalogue and Penney was left as one of the largest catalogue retailers in America.

Also online shoppers love to browse through pages and ink, and this is tending-up, probably to have change from the online business, were they order almost everything. Catalogue mailings in the U.S. are down considerably from 2007, when they peaked at 19.6 billion, according to the Direct Marketing Association. But in a sign the decline might have bottomed out, mailings grew in 2013 for the first time in six years to 11.9 billion. According to retail consultancy Kurt Salmon, 31 % of the shoppers have a catalogue with them when they make an online purchase. On the other hand, 44 % of consumers say they want to get fewer of them in the mail.

Tesco names 43 UK store closures

Supermarket giant Tesco has named the 43 stores it is closing across the country, a move that will put 2,000 jobs at risk. The company is currently informing staff at the affected stores. The Express and Home Plus stores will close on 15 March with the Tesco Metros and Superstores on the list closing on 4 April.

Tesco warned earlier this month that 43 stores would be shut as part of plans to cut costs. Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said the decision to close the stores was ‘exceptionally difficult’. Superstore closures include those in Doncaster and Chatham, while the DIY and home ware Home plus closures include stores in Edinburgh and Southampton. In total, 18 Express, 12 Metro, seven superstores and six Home plus stores are shutting their doors. The move follows two successive years of falling sales and profits, and a shock accounting scandal, which saw the chain overstate its profits by some £263m.

Uniqlo to Enter the Canadian Market in 2016

Uniqlo will arrive in Canada, its 18th global market, in 2016. The Japanese retailer, a division of fast retailing co. announced that it will open two full-range stores in Toronto’s Eaton Centre and Yorkdale Shopping Centre. The stores will carry a comprehensive selection of premium denim, supima cotton t-shirts, polos, fleeces, as well as Uniqlo’s proprietary collections.

Larry Meyer, CEO of Uniqlo in US and Canada said, ‘Entering the Canadian market is a milestone for the company and a significant step in our growth strategy. Our first two stores in the great City of Toronto will mark the launch of the Uniqlo brand in Canada, which we aim to build upon thereafter with a presence in Vancouver.’

Gap to Close Piperlime Brand

The January wave of store closure announcements continue, and Gap Inc. is the latest one to announce a slated shuttering. The retailer has recently said it would cease operations of its smallest brand, Piperlime, its predominantly online designer-fashion unit, as Art Peck prepares to take the reins as chief executive officer.

Piperlime’s annual sales were under $100 million, accounting for less than 1 percent of its parent company’s revenue, San Francisco-based Gap in a statement. Gap didn’t specify the costs of shutdown, scheduled to be completed by the end of April, saying they aren’t material to its financial results. Gap introduced Piperlime in 2006 as an online shoe store before turning it into a boutique-style apparel website that featured designer brands and celebrity stylists. The unit even made the leap into the brick-and-mortar world in 2012 with a store in Manhattan.

Adidas and Marks & Spencer named among most sustainable companies

German sporting goods giant Adidas Group has been named as the world’s third most sustainable company this year, according to a ranking released by Toronto-based media company Corporate Knights to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Not only was Adidas recognised as best European company, but it climbed from eighth place in 2014 and was the only firm in the ‘Textiles, Apparel & Luxury Goods’ category to make it onto the list. Topping the ‘2015 Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World index’ is US-based biotechnology company Biogen Idec, and pharmaceuticals firm Allergan. UK-based retailer Marks & Spencer was ranked 16th.

Of course, determining which companies are ‘sustainable’ and which are not is a challenging enterprise, as Corporate Knights is the first to admit. Not only is there no single, universally accepted definition of ‘corporate sustainability,’ but publicly traded companies are exceedingly complex institutions, often spanning multiple geographies and industrial sectors.

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