Garment buyers not giving up on Bangladesh after cafe attack
Global retailers will continue to source apparel from Bangladesh, as they have no plan to bring any major change to their business strategies following last week's terrorist attack in Gulshan.
On July 1, a band of militants stormed an upscale restaurant in the capital's Gulshan area and killed 20 diners, including nine Italians, mostly tied to garment trade out of Bangladesh.
The attack, which was targeted at foreign nationals, raised questions about the future prospects of the country's garment sector, as it gears up to overtake China as the world's largest apparel supplier.
“There are no plans to change any sourcing but we are following the development closely,” Ulrica Bogh Lind, global press officer of H&M, the largest buyer of Bangladesh's apparel products, told The Daily Star in an e-mail.
The Swedish retail giant purchases nearly $5 billion worth of garment products from Bangladesh a year.
Similarly, Dutch retail giant C&A also confirmed that it will not change its business plan in Bangladesh due to the attack.
“As Bangladesh is one of C&A's most important production countries, C&A is closely monitoring the ongoing situation in Bangladesh. Currently, C&A is not considering any short or long-time changes for its local business operations,” it said in an e-mailed reply to The Daily Star.
Spanish retailer Mango replied along the same lines.
“We work with textile suppliers in Bangladesh and our relationship will not be affected by last weekend's attack,” said Idoya Noain Ruiz, head of communication and public relations department of Mango.
In 2014, 6.65 percent of Mango merchandises were sourced from Bangladesh and the volume will remain the same in future, she said.
Some of the retailers, however, are calling their local suppliers to a third country for meetings, as they refuse to travel to Bangladesh for security reasons, said the garment makers.
“At least four garment makers told me that they or their representatives are going to a third country to hold meetings with the buyers as the they refused to travel to Dhaka after the attack,” said Mohammad Hatem, a former vice-president of BKMEA, the knitters' platform.
The retailers are now calling the suppliers to India, Hong Kong and Bangkok, he said. “But none of the buyers said they will cut business from Bangladesh following the Gulshan attack,” Hatem added.
Fazlul Hoque, managing director of Narayanganj-based Plummy Fashions, said one of his Japanese buyers has refused to travel to Bangladesh to attend a meeting scheduled to be held at his factory office on July 19. “So, I am going to Japan to hold the meeting.”
Seven Japanese nationals were among the victims of the terrorist attack.
At the same time, a German buyer of his company has not changed his travel plan to Dhaka. “The retailer is coming to my factory.”
When scheduled meetings are shifted to third countries, there are chances of receiving fewer work orders as the buyers would not be able to visit the production plants themselves, Hoque added.
The retailers had earlier held meetings in a third country in 2015, during the three month-long countrywide strikes.
“We have not received any information yet on the possible suspension of travel plans to Dhaka by any garment retailer,” said Mohammed Nasir, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Echoing the views of other suppliers, KI Hossain, president of Bangladesh Garments Buying House Association, said buyers will call in at Bangladesh in the months of August and September to place work orders for the next spring season.
“Some of the retailers might change their travel plans due to the attack.”