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21 Jun 2023

Turkey: Fashion brands respond to reports of unfair purchasing practices following February's earthquake

In June 2023, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited eleven brands to complete a questionnaire, regarding their purchasing practices and assistance they provided to their suppliers in Turkey, which were impacted by the earthquakes in February 2023. Ten brands responded to our questionnaire (Benetton, Boohoo, C&A, Esprit, Inditex, Marks & Spencer, Next, Primark and PVH), while Mango provided a statement instead. You can find a summary of all the responses in the table below.

For brands' full responses and for more information, please see below.

On 6th February 2023, earthquakes reaching a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale had a devastating impact on communities across southern Turkey and northern Syria.

The earthquake-affected regions of Turkey are host to key producing areas of the Turkish textile industry, with factories and their workers producing garments for international buyers impacted by the disaster. However, following the earthquake, there have been reports of apparel buyers changing their purchasing practices in earthquake-impacted regions; including requests of suppliers to lower prices or changing suppliers altogether. This has been followed by calls to fashion brands from workers and their allies to ensure that workers producing garments in their supply chains in earthquake-affected regions are both safe and have a continued source of income.

Through the latest disclosure on the Open Supply Hub, which identifies those buyers that have at least five suppliers in the earthquake-affected region, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has invited eleven international apparel companies with the largest disclosed supplier lists in the region to provide information on their purchasing practices and whether any changes have been made since the 6th February earthquake. These brands are: Benetton, Boohoo, C&A, Esprit, Inditex, Mango, Marks & Spencer, Next, Primark, PVH and Tchibo.

Company responses and non-responses can be seen here in full, alongside a comparison of responses below.

Key findings include:

  • Out of the 11 brands invited to respond, ten brands completed the questionnaire we provided (Benetton, Boohoo, C&A, Esprit, Inditex, Marks & Spencer, Next, Primark, PVH and Tchibo). Mango responded with a statement instead of completing the survey.
  • All brands except Mango said they had, as a matter of policy, directed their sourcing team to forgive delivery delays resulting from the earthquake and suspended the imposition of penalties until the region has recovered. Mango did not respond directly to the question in its statement.
  • All brands that responded informed us they had not imposed any penalty on a supplier in the region as a result of delayed delivery.
  • Six of the brands that responded (Benetton, C&A, Marks & Spencer, Next, Primark and PVH) said they had directed their sourcing team, in the case of delivery delays resulting from the earthquake, to pay the affected suppliers no later than the date on which they would have been paid on-time, had delivery been feasible.
  • Eight brands (Benetton, C&A, Esprit, Inditex, Marks & Spencer, Next, Primark and PVH) said that they had directed their sourcing team not to seek price concessions from suppliers in the affected region on new orders negotiated subsequent to February 6, 2023.
  • Eight brands (Benetton, C&A, Esprit, Inditex, Marks & Spencer, Next, PVH and Tchibo) said their sourcing teams had not negotiated prices on any new order from the region that were lower than those paid to the same supplier for like product during the prior season.
  • Four brands (Benetton, C&A, Marks & Spencer and Next) said that they had taken steps to ensure that they had taken steps to ensure that textile producers they directed apparel suppliers to use would be paid in full and on schedule regardless of delivery delays.

In regards to support and assistance provided to suppliers in order to help them survive and fulfil their obligations to workers:

  • Three brands (C&A, Inditex and Marks & Spencer) said they had provided accelerated payment on orders recently delivered, in transit, or in production. Marks & Spencer said this would be provided if requested.
  • One brand (Marks & Spencer) said they had provided improved payment terms on new orders.
  • Three brands (C&A, Inditex and Marks & Spencer) said it had provided low-interest or no-interest financing to suppliers.
  • Four brands (C&A, Inditex, Marks & Spencer and Tchibo) said they had provided direct financial assistance to suppliers.

In regards to protecting vulnerable workers, six brands (Boohoo, C&A, Inditex, Marks & Spencer, Next, Primark and Tchibo) said they had taken concrete steps at supplier factories to ensure that vulnerable workers (e.g. migrants, refugees, unregistered workers, pregnant workers) were not facing discrimination in terms of wage reduction or layoffs. However, none of these brands provided any information regarding the actual steps that were being taken to protect these workers.

In regards to factory safety, nine brands (Benetton, C&A, Esprit, Inditex, Mango, Next, Primark and Tchibo) informed us they had taken steps to ensure that all Tier 1 and Tier 2 supplier factories in supply chain, and within the earthquake affected regions, were structurally safe. All brands except Marks & Spencer informed us they had engaged with suppliers in the region, while Mango and Primark also informed us inspections were taking place in their supplier factories across the region. Marks & Spencer said Earthquake Safety Risk Management was already in place to ensure all production units were safe.

One brand (Marks & Spencer) told us they had provided financial assistance to families of Tier 1 and Tier 2 workers in their supply chain who were killed during the earthquake. However, they did not specify the support being provided to the impacted colleagues.