Blog: Leonie BarrieThe week that was...

Leonie Barrie | 15 September 2008

Intimate apparel maker Triumph International hit the headlines this week after a group of workers went on strike over the sacking of the chairperson of its union in Thailand for wearing a T-shirt that insulted the Thai monarchy. 2,000 of the 6,000 employees at its Thai production facility, Body Fashion Thailand (BFT), walked out in protest at the dismissal last month.

Triumph says Jitra Kotshadej was fired on a decision by the Thai Labour Court for causing “significant damage” to the company. But labour rights group the Clean Clothes Campaign says the act denied Ms Kotshadej "the basic human right of freedom of expression."

Triumph, however, stresses BFT has acted in full compliance with Thai labour law and is confident that the issue will be resolved “very soon."

Supply chain management giant Li & Fung is to sell a 4.85% stake in its business to Singapore-based investment firm Temasek for HKD$3.9bn (US$499m), in a move that will give it new funds for acquisitions. Li & Fung is targeting sales of $20bn by 2010, and earlier this year bought New York handbag brand Van Zeeland for $330m.

British-based outdoor apparel brand Berghaus plans to open 200 stores across China after signing a license agreement with Hong-Kong-based Symphony Resources. From autumn 2009, Symphony will open dedicated Berghaus stores, as well as sell through specialised retail across China. Berghaus sees Asia as a key territory as it positions itself as one of the world's top five outdoor brands.

UK footwear chain Faith has been sold to retail entrepreneur John Kinnaird and investors Agilo after briefly going into administration. Faith will now be combined with men's clothing firm Envy (owned by Kinnaird) and teenage fashion business Chilli Pepper (which is owned by Agilo). The new business will have around 140 stores across the UK, as well as over 200 concessions in the UK and Continental Europe. The sale, for an undisclosed sum, will safeguard the jobs of over 2,000 employees.

The latest figures from the British Retail Consortium show that UK retail sales fell 1% on a like-for-like basis in August, the fifth month out of the last six to register a decline and the worst sequence of figures for three years. Wet and dull weather dampened clothing sales, although footwear sales were boosted by demand for children's shoes.

The figures were confirmed by clothing retailer Next which reported a 12.4% decline in first-half pre-tax profits and warned that trading would remain difficult for at least the next 18 months. But, benefiting from the squeeze on consumer spending, discount fashion chain Primark said it expects to report a 2% increase in same-store sales for the second half of the year.



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