Clothing maker Palm Apparel Group, one of the firms hardest hit by the earthquake that devastated Haiti last month, is planning to restart production at two new locations it emerged yesterday (9 February).

"Palm plans to start production in mid-February at other existing buildings," Glenn Chamandy, president and CEO at T-shirt and underwear maker Gildan Activewear, told analysts in a conference call.

The manufacturer, where more than 500 workers lost their lives when one of its factories collapsed in the quake, is one of three sewing contractors used by Gildan in the country.

The firm's other contractors in Haiti have resumed production, it said, although one building is still unsafe.

Haiti supplies a portion of Gildan's basic T-shirt requirements for the US screenprint market, and the company has shifted some production to neighbouring Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua to ensure it meets demand.

However, Montreal, Canada based Gildan says it is "committed to play a proactive role in supporting its contractors and their employees [in Haiti] and to maintain an important strategic presence in the country" as part of its global supply chain. 

"Our selling capacity in Haiti is expected to be at approximately 90% pre-earthquake capacity by the beginning of our third fiscal quarter," Chamandy said, "with the balance being replaced by the acceleration of the ramp-up of our Dominican Republic selling facility."

As well as support for its own and contractor employees, Gildan says it is providing financial assistance to help contractors restart and rebuild their operations.