Walmart CEO: Supply chain link to Bangladesh factory fire ‘complicated’

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 16:13 EDT
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Director of BCWS Kalpona Akter as she poses with a garment with the logo Faded Glory, owned by Walmart (AFP)
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Global retailer Walmart said it had cut off a supplier that had sourced clothes for it from the Bangladesh garment factory where 110 workers were killed by a fire.

Walmart chief executive Mike Duke said in New York late Tuesday that the company was tied to the disaster at the Tazreen Fashion factory on November 24 via a complex supply chain.

“This is complicated, there are multiple steps in a supply chain, there could be a supplier that may be based here in the United States and may be buying from factories, and sometimes there are subcontract factories,” Duke said at the Council for Foreign Relations late Tuesday.

“We have a requirement to know those factories, though, and in this case that violation occurred and we’re not going to do business with that particular supplier anymore.”

The New York times and other media identified two US apparel makers had been using the unsafe Tazreen factory to make clothing they supplied to Walmart, even though Walmart said they had blacklisted the plant.

“We’re still stepping back again and saying, what else can we do?” Duke said.

“We will not buy from an unsafe factory. So this is not a price discussion. If a factory is not going to operate with high standards then we will not purchase from that factory, and there’s no discussion about price.”

The 110 staff at the Tazreen factory were killed when a fire ripped through the nine-story building on November 24 on the outskirts of Dhaka.

The factory was supplying clothes to a variety of international groups including US giant Walmart, Dutch retailer C&A, Hong Kong supplier Li & Fung as well as to the brand owned by US rapper and mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs.

The victims, mostly women paid as little as $37 a month, found themselves overcome by smoke or jumped from elevated windows. Firefighters have told AFP that all three of the fire exits led to the ground floor.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
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