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3 Apr 2020

Bangladesh: Primark, Matalan and the Edinburgh Woollen Mill among apparel retailers cancelling orders in response to COVID-19

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“Primark and Matalan among retailers allegedly cancelling £2.4 bn orders in ‘catastrophic’ move for Bangladesh”, 02 April 2020

More than a million Bangladeshi garment workers have been sent home without pay or have lost their jobs after western clothing brands cancelled or suspended £2.4bn of existing orders...

Primark, Matalan and the Edinburgh Woollen Mill are among retailers that have collectively cancelled £1.4bn and suspended an additional £1bn of orders … [including] nearly £1.3bn of orders that were already in production or had been completed.

The [Bangladeshi and Garment Exporters Association] said the impact of the cancellations has already been “catastrophic” for Bangladesh. More than one-quarter of the country’s 4 million garment workers have already lost their jobs or have been furloughed without pay…

In a statement, Primark said that, while it recognised and was “deeply saddened” by the effect this would have further down its supply chain, it had had “no option” but to cancel orders that had been placed with their Bangladeshi suppliers.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill also confirmed it has cancelled all existing orders saying, “Our relationships with suppliers are absolutely fundamental to our business, and this is not what we would ever normally wish to do but the current circumstances are such that this is a necessity.”

Matalan would not confirm whether they had cancelled orders. By email, they said the company was “looking at multiple ways of repurposing or postponing, rather than cancelling wherever possible.”