Blog: Leonie BarrieSafety just one of several issues facing Bangladesh

Leonie Barrie | 26 October 2015

Fears were played down last week that international retailers are postponing trips to Bangladesh following the recent killings of two foreign nationals in the country.

Faruque Hassan, newly-appointed SVP of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA), told just-style he dismisses the idea of any long-term impact and that business meetings are now taking place elsewhere.

This is one of many issues Bangladesh's garment industry needs to overcome if it is to achieve its goal of doubling exports to $50bn by 2021 – with market diversification, worker and factory safety, and ensuring a steady supply of skilled workers all on the list.

Despite the likely benefits of sourcing in Vietnam following recent agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), South Korea’s Hansae, one of the world’s largest apparel manufacturers, is instead betting on Haiti as a base to target the American market.

And garment manufacturers in Cambodia are calling for a renewed focus on productivity in the sector ahead of a planned rise in the minimum wage – as well as urging buyers to increase their prices for Cambodian goods.

Exports of Sri Lankan-made clothing are also set for further growth, according to a new report. The industry has built up a good reputation for quality and delivery among buyers in developed countries and has the potential to capitalise further on its inherent strengths.

A coalition of leading brands including Gap Inc and PVH Corp, as well as textile mills and NGOs, have joined forces to move towards an industry-wide, standardised methodology for auditing social and labour performance in apparel and footwear supply chains. Launched last week, the Social and Labour Convergence Project will develop a new, harmonised industry standard for social and labour compliance.

However, around 71% of UK companies believe there is a likelihood of modern slavery occurring at some point within their supply chains. A new study also found that audits do not reveal what is really going on in their supply chains.

With its up-to-the-minute fashions at rock-bottom prices, Primark sells more clothes than any other retailer in the UK. As the chain makes its first foray into the US, analysts are looking at its potential – and asking which of its rivals is most at risk from this apparel retail disruptor.

But disappointing margin guidance, management departures and new debt issuance at Gap Inc have raised concerns among analysts for the US retail giant's current and future business trends.

However, struggling surfwear business Quiksilver has had its final financing package fully approved by the bankruptcy court, allowing it to continue operating in the US and abroad.

And as third-quarter filings start to come through from US apparel brands and retailers, we begin to round-up the results.

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