Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Target bought clothes from factory destroyed in killer Bangladeshi fire

A Bangladeshi garment factory that burnt down on Tuesday night, killing seven people, made clothes for Target in Australia, and Woolworths conceded it may also have sourced fabric from the factory.

Seven workers died when a fire broke out at Aswad Composite Mills in Gazipur, the latest in a string of disasters to hit Bangladesh's garment factories.

Target Australia bought clothes from the factory last month, Agence France-Presse reported.

Order books recovered from the still-smouldering factory showed the names of the factory's clients for September, including Target Australia, US brand Gap, British retailer Next, Swedish fashion label H&M and French supermarket Carrefour.

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A Target spokesman told Fairfax that while the company did not have any direct contractual relationship with Aswad, "one of Target's registered Bangladesh suppliers does source fabric from this factory for garment production".

The Aswad factory is owned by the Palmal Group of Companies, a massive textile and garment firm that produces clothes for sale throughout the world. Palmal supplies Woolworths Australia with T-shirts and leggings for sale at Big W outlets.

Big W said it could not guarantee that it did not source any clothes from the mill that burnt down, but refused to answer Fairfax's questions about its supply chain or to reveal the address of the Palmal-owned mill - also called Aswad - from where it says it sources its clothes. ''Woolworths cannot rule out that some fabric has not come out of that mill, given we have orders with Palmal,'' spokeswoman Claire Kimball said.

The Aswad fire, which follows a blaze at Tazreen mill last November that killed 111 people, and the collapse in April of the Rana Plaza building in which at least 1127 people died, raged out of control until Wednesday morning, destroying several floors of the factory.

Seven bodies, most too badly charred to be identified, have been recovered from the factory. About 50 workers were injured.

The fire reportedly started in a malfunctioning knitting machine that had caught fire several times before.

Palmal directors did not return calls from Fairfax on Wednesday, and the company website was shut down, but Palmal's senior officials' online profiles show an established working relationship with Woolworths and Target in Australia.

with agencies


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