Arcadia has been criticised for failing to sign the safety agreement

Arcadia has been criticised for failing to sign the safety agreement

Fashion retail group Arcadia has been urged to sign the accord on fire and safety in Bangladesh, following the recent garment factory tragedies in the country.

Anti-poverty charity War on Want has criticised the company, which owns the Topshop, Miss Selfridge, BHS, Burton, and Dorothy Perkins chains, for failing to sign the safety agreement three months after the Rana Plaza building collapse in Savar, which killed more than 1,100 people.

Arcadia said Bangladesh only represents a small percentage of its total supply chain.

In May, the company said "we as a group will be signing up" but added: "This will be done on the condition that we understand the final costs to us, which to date has not been made clear."

The legally-binding five-year agreement, which has been signed by more than 80 mostly-European retailers, including H&M, Marks & Spencer and Primark, will see full transparent building audits, worker training and mandatory repairs to improve conditions in garment factories.

"Topshop's bosses have got no excuse for not signing this agreement," said Murray Worthy, sweatshops campaigner for War on Want. "With their bumper profits, they can easily afford a tiny fraction of that to make their supplier factories safe."

Worthy said Arcadia's failure to act and to work with UK retailers to make factories safe "leaves thousands of workers' lives at risk", adding that "more will die if companies like Topshop refuse to act".
 
"No one should have to work living in fear of death. Yet that is exactly the fate to which Topshop are condemning their workers," he added.

The charity also dubbed the alternative Bangladesh safety plan launched by Gap, Walmart and 15 other North American retailers and brands as a "sham" that would leave workers still at risk.

A spokesperson for Arcadia, meanwhile, said: "Arcadia are in fact in continued and detailed discussions with The Bangladesh Accord Implementation Group.

"An Arcadia representative attended a Department for International Development (DFID) round-table session on Bangladesh, and we are undertaking robust measures to ensure suppliers and factories we work with in Bangladesh are compliant with our own stringent code of conduct, whilst being fully supportive of industry initiatives."