It was just last week that an eight story building near the capital of Bangladesh collapsed, leaving dozens of workers dead, injured, or trapped under the rubble. The building was comprised of several garment factories supplying clothes to major retailers in North America in addition to other prominent regions across the globe. The incident has sparked a search for answers, with many wanting to know which U.S. companies worked with suppliers in the now-destroyed building.
Reports have since surfaced revealing the names of the garment companies within the factory. The World News Digest stated the following in a recent report: “Among the garment makers in the building were Phantom Apparels, Phantom Tac, Ether Tex, New Wave Style and New Wave Bottoms... The New Wave companies, according to their website, make clothing for major brands including North American retailers The Children’s Place and Dress Barn, Britain’s Primark, Spain’s Mango and Italy’s Benetton. Ether Tex said Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer, was one of its customers.” A report by Arun Devnath of Bloomberg News also reported that Canadian discount retailer Loblaw Cos. Joe Fresh and the British food processing and retailing chain Associated British Foods’ Primark also said their garments came from suppliers in the factory. The next question on the minds of many consumers is how these companies have responded to the tragedy. Children’s Place acknowledged they worked with one of the factories in the building. To verify this, we looked into the Import Genius database of over 79 million shipping records and found a recent shipment The Children’s Place imported from NEW WAVE STYLE LTD. received on April 5, 2013. Weighing in at 4,385 pounds, the shipment checked in at the Port of Savannah. The database also pointed to several more shipments imported this year. According to the product descriptions provided on the bills of lading, shipments containing ‘woven shirts’ ranging anywhere from 940 to 11,165 pounds were received from January to April . Records indicate the U.S. retailer also worked with the garment supplier in 2012. With contact information provided within the Import Genius application, we verified this supplier was located in the Bangladesh factory. Dress Barn claimed they hadn’t purchased from these garment companies since 2010. Through our database search, we were able to confirm that it doesn’t appear Dress Barn had received shipments in the last several years from garment factories housed in the collapsed building. Both Loblaw Cos. and Associated British Foods “vowed to help improve working conditions in Bangladesh.” A spokeswoman from Loblaw said the company is “saddened” with news of the tragedy. According to Thomson Reuters, “Wal-Mart and other companies have vowed to step up their safety audits, training, and conversations with government officials. Earlier this month, Wal-Mart said it would donate $1.6 million to help start a new Bangladesh training academy.” It’s not clear whether these common incidents will hinder consumer purchases. It’s also not definite whether these retailers are knowingly working with suppliers whose factories present dangerous working conditions. NOTE: Based on the comments released by ‘The Children’s Place’ spokesperson, Import Genius will continue to monitor shipments arriving to the US which could refute above statements of production timings.