As British companies reluctantly admitted they were linked to the latest factory fire in Bangladesh yesterday, a wider problem was revealed.
ITV News has revealed how six British brands were indirectly linked to a factory in Bangladesh that burned down, killing nine people.
The deputy manager of the factory where nine garment workers were killed said six British high street brands used Aswad Composite Mills.
US high street retailer Gap have expressed their sorrow at the news of another deadly factory fire in Bangladesh, in a statement confirming that some of their products have been made with the fabric produced inside the building. In a statement, the company said:
We are deeply saddened by the tragic fire and loss of life at Aswad Composite Mills in Bangladesh, and our thoughts are with the affected workers and families.
At this time, we can confirm that Gap Inc. works with the parent company, Palmal Group, and while Gap Inc. produces no garments at this facility, on rare occasion in the past small quantities of Gap Inc. product have been made with fabric from the mill where the fire occurred.
Gap Inc. continues to make significant long-term investments to improve fire and building safety in Bangladesh with our own safety program and as a member of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety.
Asda has confirmed that the Bangladeshi factory where the fire broke out is a long-standing supplier to the George clothing range, but that it supplies fabrics rather than finished clothes.
In a statement, George said it believes the industry should "consider whether to extend factory safety programs to this next level of production":
We are deeply saddened by what has happened and our thoughts go out to the families and victims of the accident. George at Asda has a long standing relationship with Aswad Mill, we do source fabric from there and we are working with the owner to ensure we help them however we can.
– statement from george at asda
As part of the Walmart family we have a safety programme that rigorously inspects the factories that make our garments and other products. Typically that program does not extend to the facilities that make materials like fabric for those garment factories. Given the situation in Bangladesh, we, along with Walmart, believe the Government of Bangladesh and the industry should consider whether to extend factory safety programs to this next level of production.
The British embassy in Bangladesh has tweeted about last night's fatal factory blaze, saying that the UK is "working to raise standards" in the country:
A spokesman for Walmart, which owns Asda, has given the following statement regarding the fire at a garment factory in Bangladesh:
– walmart spokesperson
Our thoughts are with the victims and their families involved on the tragedy at Aswad Composite Mills. We are working to understand the facts and will take appropriate action based on our findings.
A deputy manager for Aswad Composite Mills told ITV News that George - a brand name used by Asda in the UK - was among the brands who used the factory.
Primark is deeply saddened by the loss of life at Aswad Composite Mills, owned by Palmal Group.
Primark placed its last order in March of this year, indicating that it would place no further orders following the identification of violations of its code of conduct and management’s unwillingness to resolve these to Primark’s satisfaction.
A small amount of outstanding orders was stored in the warehouse at the Aswad Composite Mills site, awaiting shipment.
– A Primark spokesman
Incidents like this demonstrate the requirement for the Accord to be effective, and for all members to work in collaboration for sustainable change in Bangladesh.
Primark will work with other brands and stakeholders through the Accord to support the employees and their families.
Clare Lissaman, director at Ethical Fashion Forum, told ITV News that the fatal factory fire in Bangladesh was "completely preventable".
She said: "It wouldn't cost that much more to have buildings that were safe, workers that were paid properly, estimates are about 5p more per garment. I think we can have affordable garments that don't mean that people have to die."
The deputy manager of the factory in Bangladesh where nine garment workers were killed last night has told ITV News that six British high street brands used Aswad Composite Mills.
Business Editor Laura Kuenssberg reports from Dhaka:
Next, who were linked to the factory Bangladesh where nine garment workers were killed last night, told ITV News:
Marina Garments is a supplier to NEXT, who in turn sourced fabric from the Aswad Unit One Mill. As a result NEXT has had no direct contact with the Aswad mill.
The cause of the fire at Aswad, which is at a different location to Marina Garments in Bangladesh, is under investigation by the local authorities and is currently unknown.
Prior to and since engaging Marina Garments a year ago, NEXT audited the factory, using its own in-house audit teams and no major issues have been found. However, because Aswad is a third-party fabric supplier to Marina Garments, it had not been inspected by NEXT.
As the cause of the fire is unknown, it is not clear whether any audit would have prevented this tragedy. Once the cause is known, as routine NEXT will review its procedures, including the extent to which it needs to look further down the supply chain - particularly in high risk areas such as Bangladesh.
NEXT is deeply saddened by events and its immediate thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones or have been hurt. NEXT is already in contact with the other major UK retailers involved, to decide how best to coordinate immediate help for victims and their families. NEXT is awaiting further information from the scene and therefore cannot comment further at this time.