Blog: Leonie BarrieChina takes a tougher stance on CSR

Leonie Barrie | 20 October 2014

Experts on China's textile and apparel industry say that international brands must take increasing care to ensure their sourcing is environmentally and socially responsible, ahead of an anticipated tightening of government restrictions. Their comments to just-style follow the release of the China National Textile and Apparel Council's latest social responsibility report.

Retailer Marks & Spencer is planning to extend a programme that allows it to survey workers in its clothing supplier factories on their mobile phones, following the success of a one-year trial of the scheme. just-style has learned that next plans include rolling the surveys out to workers in Cambodia as part of its health and nutrition training.

But unions have warned of a surge in protests by Cambodian garment workers, after more than 1,000 people took part in demonstrations to demand better pay following a delay in announcing a new minimum wage.

And the chief executive of H&M, Karl-Johan Persson, has highlighted the need for annual wage revisions in Bangladesh in line with local price inflation.

Products made with child or prison labour or manufactured under poor working conditions in China continue to enter the US, according to a new report that reviews China's compliance with international trade rules as well as other human rights and rule of law issues.

The role played by factoring in the apparel supply chain recently came under the spotlight with reports that factoring firms have scaled back coverage to vendors supplying department store retailer Sears Holdings. However, the transaction offers a lifeline to many apparel makers, and is seeing a resurgence as a major source of capital.

The appointment of Marvin Ellison to the helm of department-store group JC Penney Company has been described as "a credible hire" but one that offers "no solution" to the retailer's tough structural issues.

While the hiring of Fran Horowitz from Ann Inc as president of Abercrombie & Fitch's Hollister brand is seen as key to helping the retailer carve out a stronger, more clearly defined identity for the unit.

Clothing and footwear business Pacific Brands is considering selling more of its brands as it continues to look for ways to improve company performance, after admitting last week that the company still has "some way to go".

And the Outdoor Industry Association's annual Rendezvous meeting emphasised the need for firms to offer more choice and innovation, and to use technology to better understand the needs of consumers.

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