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Initiatives taken by different brands during the COVID-19 pandemic

Bangladesh, the second-largest exporter of textile goods in the world after China, is heavily dependent on different buyers of America and Europe. In 2020, the world economy is facing a severe downturn due to COVID-19 pandemic.

clothing-brands-Initiatives-COVID-19-pandemic
Figure 1: Some buyers are trying their best to help the suppliers to overcome this pandemic whereas most of them are showing unethical buying practices demanding discounts or canceling orders.

Many big brands have canceled their orders from BD garment factories from the beginning of March. According to BGMEA, 1150 garment factories lost 98 million pieces of garment orders worth US$3.18 billion.

However, some buyers are trying their best to help the suppliers to overcome this pandemic whereas most of them are showing unethical buying practices demanding discounts or canceling orders.

Let’s have an overview on different initiatives taken by some renowned buyers:

H&M

Swedish retail giant H&M is the largest importer of RMG products of BD. Every year it buys around $3 Billion worth of garments from the country. H&M has put a temporary pause on placing new orders from Bangladesh. But it has assured its suppliers of taking shipments of goods that have already been manufactured. It also assured to pay the wages of workers affected by the cancellations of orders.

C&A

The German-Belgium-Dutch brand has also canceled their orders from March 2020. They are yet to pay the workers’ salaries also. But C&A Bangladesh has assured that it will pay all their dues in time and promised to overcome the situation by proper communication with the suppliers.

Lindex

The Swedish retailer company’s approach towards Bangladeshi suppliers was always worth of appreciation. They ran different overtime projects with its 13 suppliers across the country. These included ensuring clean drinking water, access to proper toilets for a large number of people.

They also took different initiatives for the empowerment of women workers including their education, health care, hygiene, etc. During the time of the pandemic, they are also running these projects and have promised to pay for the goods that have already been manufactured by its suppliers.

Debenhams

The brand used to purchase more than $120million worth of high-end garments from 40 manufacturers in Bangladesh. Debenhams has now demanded a mindboggling discount 90% leaving its Bangladeshi suppliers high and dry. The brand currently owes $66 million to its vendors in Bangladesh. Such kind of absurd behavior of the brand has impacted around 34 factories and almost 160000 workers in Bangladesh.

Debenhams-factory-Bangladesh
Figure 2: Orders ready for shipment to Debenhams in a factory of Bangladesh.

Marks & Spencer

M&S Bangladesh has paid off 95% of its orders. It has also offered vendor finance (such as deferred loans) and letters of credit to its suppliers. M&S Bangladesh was also the first company to initiate the production of locally made PPEs for the country’s health workers. The brand, in collaboration with the BUET alumni association produced and distributed around 4 lacs PPEs for the doctors and nurses fighting the pandemic in March 2020.

As we can see, although few renown brands like H&M, Primark, M&S, etc. are trying their best to help the RMG sector of our country for thriving this pandemic, most brands like Debenhams aren’t performing their ethical duties. As a result, millions of workers and suppliers are facing a devastating situation. If all brands start acting like a good friend in need of Bangladesh as a whole, only then we’ll be able to overcome this dark time. The buyers should show proper empathy and understand the manufacturers’ pains!

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