Garment buyers sharpen watch on supply chain
International buyers have become more cautious about their Bangladeshi contractors and sub-contractors who make clothes for the multinational retailers.
In the past, the local liaison offices of the buyers used to deal with the contractors and check their safety standards before placing orders.
But now the headquarters of the buyers want to know exactly which factories are -- directly or indirectly -- making garment products for them.
The buyers tighten the screw amid growing concerns over factory safety after around 112 workers were trapped and killed in a factory fire in Ashulia in November.
The buyers' worries intensified as the world's largest retail chain, Walmart, after the fire at Tazreen Fashions, said it did not know Tazreen used to make garments for the company.
To maintain strict compliance, the headquarters of different retail chains are sending repeated mails to their Dhaka-based liaison offices to confirm the names of the factories.
Some buyers in Dhaka said their head offices were not so serious about the sub-contractors before the fire incident at Tazreen Fashions.
â€œPreviously, the headquarters tried to know only about the contractors from their liaison offices," said a Spanish buyer, asking not to be named.
"But now they are serious about both the contractors and sub-contractors and their safety standards as well," he said.
In such a letter, which The Daily Star obtained, the headquarters of a buyer asked its liaison office in Dhaka to send the names of the factories for confirming the purchase order.
Another Hong Kong-based buyer said their headquarters now focus more on factory inspection.
â€œFactory inspection is a regular practice for our business. But after the Tazreen fire, we have strengthened the process with our own manpower,â€ said the buyer, who also did not want to be named.
Many buyers now carry out unannounced factory inspection regularly, said KM Rezaul Hasanat, chairman and managing director of Viyellatex Group, a local garment group.
â€œRecently a buyer paid a surprise visit to my factory and asked for a fire drilling. Such a visit was rare in the past,â€ he said.