Will Wal-Mart Move Manufacturing Out of Bangladesh?

A Bangladeshi army soldier walks through rows of burned sewing machines after a fire in the nine-story Tazreen Fashion plant in Savar on Nov. 25, 2012 Photograph by AFP via Getty Images

Wal-Mart Stores, the world’s biggest retailer, can be a demanding customer. Its relations with clothing manufacturers in Bangladesh are especially fraught. A fire in a garment factory there left more than a hundred workers dead in November; a supplier had subcontracted work to the factory without Walmart’s knowledge, the company said. In January, Walmart warned its suppliers worldwide of a new “zero-tolerance” (PDF) policy against unauthorized subcontracting and announced factory health and safety initiatives—without providing any details about how much money, if any, it would contribute to the effort. Now, according to a report today in Women’s Wear Daily, the company also has a strategy to reduce its reliance on Bangladesh.

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