Canadian buyer pledges help
Loblaw, a major Canadian retailer, has vowed to keep sourcing apparel products from Bangladesh and help the country raise the standards for building codes.
The assurance came in the wake of the recent garment factory disaster in Savar that killed more than 500 people.
Galen G Weston, chairman of Loblaw, said his company wanted more rigorous factory inspections that would, for the first time, examine structural integrity of buildings that house these garment factories.
He also said Loblaw, which owns discount clothing chain, was trying to figure out what more it could do to improve workplace conditions, according to the CBC News website.
Weston made the comments while addressing the press along with Joe Mimran, the fashion retailer who founded Loblaw's Joe Fresh line, on Thursday to discuss the Rana Plaza tragedy.
"I'm very troubled. I'm troubled by the deafening silence from other apparel retailers on this. Thirty companies were having goods manufactured, but only two have come forward to speak publicly," Weston said.
He said Loblaw has always ensured all facilities in its supply chain adhere to rigorous standards in areas including local labour laws and work conditions.
"Nothing in those reports suggested a problem, but the scope of the audits does not cover structural integrity," he added.
Mimran said Joe Fresh has no plans to leave the country, arguing more can be done to make the apparel industry "a force for good" in the world by working with local authorities to improve conditions.
"Properly inspected, well-built factories play an important role in countries like Bangladesh," Mimran said, adding, "Recent events have shown we should be auditing for building standards, something that has never been done before."
"The apparel industry can be a force for good," Weston said, adding, "They can help lift people out of poverty in countries like Bangladesh."
Their comments came when international firms such as Disney, the world's largest entertainment company, had already announced its intentions to withdraw from Bangladesh.
Disney, based in California, USA, removed Bangladesh in March from a list of countries where it authorises partners to produce clothing and merchandise, according to Bloomberg.
It has asked licensees to end production in those places by March 2014. Belarus, Ecuador, Pakistan and Venezuela were also taken off the list, Disney said.
Disney's contractors had less than one percent of the company's production in Bangladesh.
Safety standards in Bangladesh have been in the spotlight over accidents including the Rana Plaza collapse in Savar on April 24 that killed more than 500 people and a November factory fire last year that claimed at least 112 lives.
Earlier, British retailer Primark vowed to improve working conditions in Bangladesh.