Blog: Hannah AbdullaMajor brands urge Trump to pull footwear from tariff list

Hannah Abdulla | 30 May 2019

A coalition of 173 US footwear brands, including Nike and Adidas, is urging US President Donald Trump to remove footwear from the proposed tariffs list on goods imported from China, saying it would be "catastrophic" for companies, consumers and the American economy as a whole.

Apparel and garment trade bodies have, however, applauded the deal reached between the US, Mexico and Canada to lift the tariffs imposed on steel and aluminium and the removal of subsequent retaliatory tariffs.

Garment manufacturers in the US have reported an increase in prices paid during the first four months of 2019 and are predicting price increases for all of 2019 – with the majority pointing at tariffs as the reason for bumping up prices.

In US retail, Ascena Retail Group has finally moved to address speculation regarding the future of its Dressbarn business and announced it would begin winding down its retail operations in a move that will include the eventual closure of its 650 stores.

While VF Corp's newly spun-off unit has begun trading as a global, independent, publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange.

In Europe, Swedish apparel giant Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) has harnessed specially collected data to launch a new custom-made collection for customers in Berlin, Germany. The limited collection has been co-created by H&M Germany and the H&M Group's Laboratory, the internal innovation department that explores new business models.

UK retail group Arcadia, owner of the Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge, Burton and Dorothy Perkins chains, has announced plans for a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) that will see the company close 23 of its stores in the UK and Ireland. 

And high street giant M&S has revealed plans to shut a further 85 full-line stores amid a 9.9% drop in full-year profit which it blamed on headwinds and the cost of store closure.

While mother, baby and children's goods retailer Mothercare, has continued to see losses mount amid declining sales and costs incurred during major restructuring activity. 

From Bangladesh to Ethiopia, garment manufacturing is a potential path to economic development. But this will only happen if Western brands and retailers adopt specific sourcing practices, according to Dorothée Baumann-Pauly and Auret van Heerden from the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.

Bangladesh's ready-made garment (RMG) sector saw exports increase 12.59% in the nine months from July to April 2019 compared to the year earlier.

But a group representing US apparel retailers, brands and importers has written to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to warn that growth in the country's ready-made garment industry is threatened by the government's response to this year's minimum wage protests and a wavering commitment to the future of worker safety.

In other news, the US has terminated Turkey's designation as a beneficiary developing country under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) programme; PVH Corp has appointed former Ralph Lauren CEO Stefan Larsson to the newly created role of president, and Inditex is to promote its COO Carlos Crespo to CEO.

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