H&M To Buy More Garments From Bangladesh

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Swedish retail giant H&M will increase the volume of work orders for garment items from Bangladesh, although the company is looking for alternative destinations for sourcing, a senior official of the company said. "H&M has maintained good relations with Bangladesh over the last 30 years. We have a long-term plan for Bangladesh. So we will continue business with Bangladesh," said Hendrik Heuermann, sustainability manager of H&M in Germany. H&M, the largest buyer for Bangladesh's clothing products, has recently started sourcing garment items from some new destinations such as Ethiopia and Myanmar.  H&M purchases about US$ 5 billion of garments from Bangladesh every year.

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The company will use Ethiopia and Myanmar as the sources of basic garment items as Bangladesh has started producing value-added garments like jackets, for upscale customers in the western world, he said. However, he declined to comment on the quantity and prices of the apparel items the company sources from Bangladesh every year. Germany is the second largest export destination for Bangladesh's garments after the United States. Apparel worth US$ 4.38 billion were shipped to Germany in 2014-15, up 19.02% year-on-year. Heuermann said his company has started a "fair wage method" in some garment factories in Bangladesh this year to help improve productivity and factory working conditions. H&M plans to introduce the method in all of its sourcing factories by 2018 and hold dialogues between the employers and the employees to settle wage disputes, the company said in a statement a few months ago.

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"The implementation of the method will contribute to sustainable pay structures, more regular wage adjustments and enhanced communication and social dialogue between the management and workers' representatives." H&M has more than 3,900 stores in 61 markets and buys around 80% of its products from Asia. Bangladesh has become a popular sourcing country for H&M as the country has been enjoying zero-duty benefit to the EU since 1971 under the Everything But Arms scheme of the European Union.

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