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Bangladesh Garment Factory Fire Kills 9, Renewing Safety Fears
« on: October 10, 2013, 06:02:55 AM »
http://www.bloomberg.com/
By Arun Devnath & Mehul Srivastava - Oct 9, 2013 2:25 PM PT

A fire at a garment factory on the outskirts of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka killed at least nine people, renewing concerns about safety in the country’s $19 billion garment industry that supplies retailers globally.

Three out of five units housed at the Aswad Composite Mills Ltd. in Gazipur were damaged by the fire that broke out Oct. 8, police inspector Amir Hossain said by telephone from the scene. Aswad has supplied goods to two Canadian companies, Loblaws Inc. that owns the Joe Fresh brand, and Hudson’s Bay Co. (HBC), according to shipping data provider ImportGenius.com.

The factory is also a source of fabric for some Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) suppliers, Megan Murphy, a spokeswoman for the company said in a statement.

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Re: Bangladesh Garment Factory Fire Kills 9, Renewing Safety Fears
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2013, 06:04:41 AM »
The deaths put added pressure on the South Asian nation as it struggles to rebuild its image after the April collapse of a factory complex killed more than 1,100 people in the country’s worst industrial disaster.

Bangladesh is the world’s second-largest garment exporter and its apparel industry supplies retailers from Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart to Hennes & Mauritz AB.

“It’s a very sad day,” Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of the Exporters Association of Bangladesh, said by telephone. “It will be very difficult to do business with global retailers after all these troubles coming one after another.”

Nafis Sikder, managing director of Aswad, declined to name his company’s customers. Television images showed the top floors of the factory going up in flames.


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Re: Bangladesh Garment Factory Fire Kills 9, Renewing Safety Fears
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2013, 06:07:11 AM »
‘Under Control’

“The fire is under control now,” fire department official Jibon Miah said by telephone. “We are still investigating how the fire started.”

In the last two years, Aswad, using an address in Gazipur, shipped dozens of containers to customers including Hudson’s Bay and Loblaws, according to ImportGenius.com.

Loblaws has seen documents that suggest that some suppliers may have outsourced production against company policy, spokeswoman Julija Hunter said in an e-mailed statement. The retailer has a “no-tolerance policy” over unauthorized outsourcing and is investigating, Hunter said, adding that Loblaws is confident it hasn’t placed any orders from Aswad.

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Re: Bangladesh Garment Factory Fire Kills 9, Renewing Safety Fears
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2013, 06:07:57 AM »
Loblaws in May announced its commitment to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and said at the time it would stay in Bangladesh.

Hudson’s Bay said its last order was placed with Aswad in October 2012 for delivery in April 2013.

“We had determined at that time that we would not be placing subsequent orders with Aswad,” Tiffany Bourre, a spokeswoman for the Toronto-based company, said in an e-mailed statement.

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Re: Bangladesh Garment Factory Fire Kills 9, Renewing Safety Fears
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2013, 06:08:45 AM »
H&M, Primark

H&M doesn’t have any direct business relationship with Aswad, though the plant delivers fabric to a factory used by the Swedish retailer, it said in a statement. A supplier of Next Plc (NXT) obtained fabric from the Aswad mill, though the U.K. retailer had no direct contact with the factory, it said by e-mail.

Primark, the budget fashion-chain owned by Associated British Foods Plc (ABF), said it placed its last order with the factory in March and indicated it would place no more following the identification of violations of its code of conduct and management’s unwillingness to resolve these. A small amount of outstanding orders was stored in the warehouse at the affected factory awaiting shipment, a Primark spokeswoman said by e-mail.


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Re: Bangladesh Garment Factory Fire Kills 9, Renewing Safety Fears
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2013, 06:09:45 AM »
Heating Machines

Aswad used to dye, knit and finish fabrics at the unit where the fire started, Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, said by telephone after visiting the site.

“It seems the fire was sparked by heating machines and flames leapt upward and spread to the top floor,” Akter said. The top floor was badly burnt and machines were damaged, she said. Workers at the unit had been unable to douse the fire as the presence of highly inflammable material caused it to spread fast, Akter said, citing a stores officer.

Bangladesh’s garment industry expansion has been marred by factories operated in buildings with poor electrical wiring, an insufficient number of exits and little fire-fighting equipment. That has put pressure on international retailers to improve work conditions.

Last month, thousands of garment factory workers staged violent protests, seeking to more than double their monthly pay to $104 and forcing about 400 of the country’s 5,000 garment factories to close.


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