Published on 12:00 AM, March 30, 2020

H&M comes to its garment suppliers’ rescue

Swedish retail giant H&M yesterday assured its garment suppliers of taking shipment of goods that have already been manufactured, much to the relief of some Bangladeshi exporters.

H&M came up with the message at a time when apparel suppliers across the world, including those from Bangladesh, are being slammed by work order cancellations and delayed shipments.

"We will stand by our commitments to our garment manufacturing suppliers by taking delivery of the already produced garments as well as goods in production," said H&M in a media message.

The Swedish company did not mention any particular supplier from any particular country.

H&M sources garment and textile items worth nearly $4 billion from more than 230 Bangladeshi factories annually, according to industry insiders.

"We will, of course, pay for these goods and we will do it under agreed payment terms. In addition, we will not negotiate prices on already placed orders," H&M said.

At this point, it is necessary to temporarily pause new orders as well as evaluate potential changes on recently placed orders.

"We will start placing orders again as soon as the situation allows," H&M added.

Meanwhile, as of 5pm yesterday, 1,025 factories reported cancellation of 864.17 million units of work orders worth $2.81 billion, according to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

H&M says it is well aware that the suppliers, and their employees, are extremely vulnerable in this situation.

"Given the constantly changing situation and the uncertainty that we, the industry and the whole world are facing, we want to be clear and transparent towards our garment suppliers."

The entire fashion industry now faces its biggest challenge ever, according to the Swedish company.

"And we utilise all our networks and contacts to find solutions that can contribute in the best possible way."

Companies such as H&M play a key role in many developing countries, as well as global trade. The textile industry contributes to economic growth, employment and stability in textile producing countries.

"We are at this instance intensively investigating how we can support countries, societies and individuals from a health and financial perspective. In this first urgent phase, we will focus our efforts on countries that are highly dependent on the textile industry," the retailer added.

Meanwhile, the BGMEA plans to make at least 20,000 personal protective equipment (PPE), which will be donated.

"What we are making is a substitute of Level-1 PPE," it said in a WhatsApp message.

Doctors and staff treating COVID-19 patients need level 3/4.