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30 Apr 2020

Kieran Guilbert, Naimul Karim & Anuradha Nagaraj, Reuters

Asian suppliers condemn Edinburgh Woollen Mill for 'unethical' buying practices amid pandemic; Company says its response is 'a necessity'

"As fashion sales fall globally, big brands leave Asia's garment workers in limbo", 30 April 2020

... [M]anufacturers expressed frustration with the inability to negotiate with Western buyers which was causing job losses. “As far as buyers are concerned, there has never been any real room for negotiations,” said a major garment supplier in south India...

Garment brands, unions and employer organisations last week announced a working group... to help manufacturers pay wages... while ensuring access to healthcare and welfare for workers. Yet some of the retailers backing the initiative have not met its aim of ensuring their suppliers are paid for all finished and ongoing orders...

Two Bangladeshi suppliers... said some retailers such as Britain-based Edinburgh Woollen Mill (EWM) had demanded discounts of up to 70%, a figure that would see the manufacturers make a loss on those orders.

A factory owner in India said EWM told him it required a 50% discount and would only pay once it had sold 70% of the goods. “EWM are being opportunist, unreasonable and unethical,” the owner said, adding that most of his other Western buyers had “acted reasonably” when it came to negotiating over orders.

A spokesman for EWM Group - which also owns... Jane Norman and Peacocks - said it was negotiating with its suppliers individually to find a solution “that works for them”. “This is not what we would ever normally wish to do but the current circumstances are such that it is a necessity,”...