Apparel Sourcing Intelligence - Worldwide

US buyers call on ex-Senators for “Bangladesh plan by mid-July”

US apparel retailers appeared on May 30 to commit to having a Bangladesh safety plan by “early July”.

On May 15, America’s National Retail Federation (NRF) claimed that US “retailers are committed to a plan of action that is both workable and sustainable,” as it savaged the Accord on Fire & Building Safety in Bangladesh (AFBSB). But no plan was revealed, and no US retailers appear to have publicly committed to the Safer Factories Initiative, which a number of US trade associations signed in mid May.

US apparel retailers as a result have been widely criticised, and the NRF has been unattributably telling journalists that a US safety plan would be shortly released. On May 30, an effort to devise such a plan was announced. Trade associations and major retailers would seek to “develop and implement a new program to improve fire and safety regulations in the garment factories of Bangladesh”, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), a Washington think tank. Two former Senators, Democrat George Mitchell and Republican Olympia Snowe were announced as leaders of the process.

The BPC said the ex-Senators, retailers and trade associations would seek to release their plan by early July. There is no official indication of which retailers are backing the BPC process, which appears to be officially commissioned by the NRF, the American Apparel & Footwear Association, Retail Industry Leaders Association, and the Retail Council of Canada. Press reports indicated, however, that Gap, JC Penney, Sears, Target and Walmart were playing an active part in the process. Oddly, Nike, Jones Apparel Group and Hanesbrands have kept out of this controversy