Many international clothing retailers are coming up with assurances to help garment suppliers by taking the shipment of goods that have already been manufactured or ordered, in a relief to the exporters reeling from the coronavirus fallout.
Since the outbreak of the deadly and highly contagious virus, many Western clothing retailers, which have been sourcing from Bangladesh for decades, have sent letters to local manufacturers asking for cancellation of current and upcoming work orders as their own stores have been closed due to demand collapse and the measures aimed at slowing the spread of the novel virus.
At the same time, there have been assurances from the buyers when the apparel suppliers worldwide are facing the challenges of order cancellation and delayed shipments.
A few brands, including PVH, Inditex, Marks & Spencer, Kiabi and Target have come forward and have informed of their decision to take the ready goods along with the goods in production, said Rubana Huq, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), in a WhatsApp message.
"We welcome their decision to support us and hope that the payment terms will remain unaffected in order to ensure liquidity flow for the factories," Huq told The Daily Star in a WhatsApp message.
This comes after the Swedish retail giant H&M on Sunday assured its garment suppliers of taking shipment of goods that have already been manufactured.
Spanish retailer Inditex has confirmed it would not stop taking goods in seas or in production lines, according to the BGMEA chief.
"Similarly, French Kiabi would take all the products that are ready and all the products whose work is in progress."
Target of the US has confirmed with full assurance that it would be taking all the orders in hand and take full responsibility and come up with solutions on work orders, Huq said.
"Target also reiterated that it would work as partners to come out of the crisis and has no intention to cancel any order. The list is getting long," Huq said.
French buyer Kiabi told Rising Group during a video-conferencing on Monday that it would take the old orders worth nearly $14 million, according to Mahmud Hasan Khan Babu, managing director of the garment exporter.
He has been supplying knitwear items like T-shirts to Kiabi for more than nine years. He supplies garment items worth $120 million to the French company every year.
Kiabi has been directly sourcing garment items worth $700 million from Bangladesh every year over the last 20 years, the entrepreneur said.
As of yesterday, $2.90 billion worth of garment export orders were cancelled by international retailers, according to data compiled the BGMEA.
Some 1,059 garment factories reported a loss of 920.36 million units of work orders. The cancellation will affect 2.10 million workers.
More than 3,079 woven, knit and textile factories were closed yesterday as the government is enforcing a nationwide lockdown. However, nearly 60 factories were open, according to sources in the industrial police.
The worst-affected countries such as Italy, the UK, the US, France, Spain and Germany are the prime destinations of Bangladeshi garment items.
The US is the largest export destination for Bangladesh and takes apparel items worth $6 billion a year. Germany also sources almost the same amount of garment items.
Bangladesh exports nearly $3 billion worth of garment items to Italy and more than $2.5 billion to Spain and France. The UK imports more than $3 billion worth of garment items.