A group of US based retailers and brands working towards a new programme to improve fire and safety regulations in Bangladeshi garment factories is unlikely to finalise its plans until early July.

First details of the intended Safer Factories Initiative were revealed earlier this month, with just-style being told at the time that a more detailed strategy would be available within days or weeks.

However, it has now emerged that the action plan and implementation schedule will not be released until early July.

Groups representing the North American retailers met in New York this week for the first of several working sessions to be held over the next month.

The talks are being organised by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) and co-chaired by former US Senate majority leader and BPC co-founder George Mitchell and former US Senator and BPC senior fellow Olympia Snowe.

"Over the next several weeks, we look forward to building on the efforts of the Safer Factory Initiative (SFI) and seeking input from key stakeholders to forge an effective response," Jason Grumet, BPC president, said in a statement yesterday (30 May).

A transatlantic divide has emerged between apparel brands and retailers seeking to improve safety in Bangladesh garment factories after a series of deadly accidents killed more than 1,500 workers in recent months.

European firms including H&M, Carrefour and Marks & Spencer are favouring the new Accord on Fire and Building Safety, while those in North America have gone their own way with the Safer Factories Initiative. US retailers such as Gap and Walmart are also planning to ramp up their own safety plans.

The alliance behind the Safer Factories Initiative includes participants from industry associations including the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), National Retail Federation (NRF), Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), and the Retail Council of Canada (RCC).