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Marks & Spencer, H&M and Bestseller detail measures to help suppliers

By Huw Hughes

Apr 24, 2020

Business

Marks & Spencer, H&M and Bestseller have outlined measures to help support suppliers after fashion retailers received widespread criticism in recent weeks when many companies cancelled or refused to pay for huge orders of clothing.

As of the beginning of April, 1.4 billion dollars worth of orders had been cancelled and another 1.8 billion dollars worth had been put on hold, according to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). Bangladesh comes second only to China in terms of largest garment exporter.

Marks & Spencer, which called for all suppliers to stop producing a day after the UK went into lockdown, now confirmed it will pay its suppliers for products shipped before 24 March.

For products yet to be shipped by that date, the British retailer said it will pay for all made garments for the vast majority of orders - amounting to 95 percent of its product spend - with exceptions for niche lines or to tertiary suppliers.

The company will also pay for “large volumes” of fabric already bought by suppliers and would also offer vendor finance and letters of credit if suppliers need it.

“We’re very proud to have strong long-term relationships with our clothing suppliers and we’re doing all we can for our partners in this unprecedented time,” said a Marks & Spencer spokesperson in a statement. “We fully support the efforts of the Ethical Trading Initiative and our partner the International Labour Organization who are facilitating the coordination and distribution of emergency relief funds, supporting safe working where manufacturing continues and co-ordinating an industry-wide response. Additionally, we’ll continue to support our community projects in the supply chain including those focused on employability, health and digital wages.”

Similarly, Swedish retailer H&M and Danish retailer Bestseller confirmed on Wednesday they would both be paying for goods that have either been produced or are in the process of being produced, and have both joined the Covid-19: Action in the Global Garment Industry initiative.

“To jointly tackle the immediate effects of Covid-19 and continue work towards a more resilient garment industry once the crisis has passed, H&M Group joins a global call to action alongside the ILO, IOE (International Organisation of Employers), ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation), IndustriALL Global Union, employers’ organisations, and brands,” H&M Group head of sustainability Anna Gedda said in a statement.

Bestseller global sourcing director Michael W. Schultze said: “We will do our utmost to live up to our commitments and take delivery of garments already made and those in production. We are aware of our responsibility and we are in close dialogue with each of our suppliers on how to handle the current crisis. We have to get through this situation by collaboration and in partnerships with our suppliers.”

Photo credit: Marks & Spencer