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21 Apr 2020

Alex Lawson, Evening Standard

Primark: retailer reverses decision to withhold payment for cancelled orders, committing to pay £370 million to suppliers across Asia

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“Primark agrees to pay out £370 million for coronavirus-hit orders”, 20 April 2020

… Primark  … did a major U-turn on its refusal to pay suppliers in Asia for clothes ordered amid the Covid-19 crisis …

The retailer … provoked a public outcry … after it cancelled payments for clothes already being made and shipped from low cost suppliers in Asia.

Today it committed to pay £370 million of the unwanted stock.

The retailer had previously only committed to paying for orders that were in transit or booked for shipment by March 18 …

The group initially … [established] a fund to ensure workers in developing countries were paid … But there was scepticism about how practical this would be if factories were forced to close …

Independent retail analyst Nick Bubb said: “It looks like a massive U-turn by Primark, after the outcry over its brutal treatment of Bangladeshi suppliers …”

Mostafiz Uddin, the chief executive of the Bangladesh Apparel Exchange, said Primark’s reputation had already been tarnished by the 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza building which housed factories for … Primark and killed 1134 people.

Uddin said funds to support workers was not the answer. “My workers say ‘I do not want charity. I just want a job’ … Just pay the money that has been contracted.”