Hennes & Mauritz AB, Europe’s second-biggest clothing retailer, said some H&M garments were produced without its knowledge or approval at a factory in Cambodia where workers were injured in a partial building collapse this week.
A supplier of the Stockholm-based company placed two minor orders with an unapproved sub-supplier at the Hong Kong-owned Top World garment factory, H&M spokeswoman Anna Eriksson said today in an e-mailed response to questions. She said H&M has no business relations with the plant, where a shelter collapsed into a river injuring at least 23 people, according to Xinhua.
Concern has risen over worker safety in Asian apparel factories after the collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh last month, considered one of the world’s worst industrial disasters. The May 20 incident in Cambodia is the second in the space of seven days after a shoe factory crumpled last week, killing at least two and injuring five, Xinhua reported.
“We have a clear policy that all production has to take place in units approved by H&M, this is not acceptable,” Eriksson said of the unapproved orders. H&M, vendor of $5.95 tube tops and $12.95 ballet flats, has met with the company that placed the orders and visited the factory, though it’s too early to say what action will be taken against the supplier, she said.
“As a first step we demand our supplier to fulfil their responsibility for the affected textile workers, which the supplier has agreed to do,” Eriksson said.
H&M isn’t the first retailer to discover its products are made in factories that escape its scrutiny as suppliers hire subcontractors without their knowledge when rushing to fill orders. When clothing bound for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Sears Holdings Corp. was found in the ruins of a fatal factory blaze in Bangladesh last year, the companies said their goods were manufactured there without their permission.
H&M has had experiences with unapproved factories in the past and “clearly acted on those cases,” Eriksson said.