Fast Retailing, the owner of Japanese casual clothing brand Uniqlo, is continuing to review the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.

"Fast Retailing takes our relationships with our partner factories very seriously, and our first priority is the safety of the employees who work at our partner factories," a spokesperson for Fast Retailing told just-style today (30 May).

"We require our partner factories to agree to comply with our Code of Conduct (CoC) for production partners, which includes the prohibition of child labour, forced labour and rules related to occupational health and safety, wage payment and working hours."

The news comes despite media reports saying the retailer has decided not to sign the accord and has instead chosen to implement its own safety measures.

Fast Retailing confirmed that it started a "thorough inspection" of fire and building safety on Monday27 May), which it expects to be completed in three to four months time.

It added that only a small percentage of its global production is conducted in Bangladesh, adding that around 70% of it is carried out in China.

A total of 41 apparel brands and companies have so far signed the safety agreement, including Benetton, Esprit, Inditex, Primark and PVH, following the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building, which killed more than 1,100 workers. 

The legally-binding five-year agreement will see independent safety inspections with public reports on all Bangladeshi suppliers used by the signatory companies, mandatory repairs and renovations, the obligation by brands to underwrite the costs of safety upgrades, and repercussions for suppliers that refuse to improve conditions including the termination of business.

A group of North American retailers, meanwhile, has set up an alternative scheme to strengthen safety efforts at Bangladesh garment factories, through the Safer Factories Initiative.