Joe Fresh clothing made at site of deadly Bangladesh factory collapse

Workers spoke of large cracks in the building, reports say

(A.M.Ahad/AP)

Nearly a hundred people have reportedly died and as many as a thousand have been injured in the collapse of an eight-story factory in Bangladesh, which supplied clothing to Canadian retailer Joe Fresh, owned by Loblaw.

Reports from Reuters say 96 people are confirmed dead, while the Associated Press reports 87 workers have died, in the second major deadly incident at a Bangladesh factory in the outskirts of the capital, Dhaka. In November, 112 people died in a fire in the fashion district of Tazreen at a building that supplied garments to Gap and Wal-Mart.

The Rana Plaza building, a complex of garment factories about 30 km outside Dhaka, supplied clothing to the low-cost U.K. retailer Primark and brands including Bennetton in addition to Joe Fresh, CBC news reports.

In a statement to media, Loblaw Companies Inc.’s vice-president of public relations Julija Hunter said “the large complex, housing a commercial bank and shopping mall, also included a factory that produced a small number of Joe Fresh apparel items.”

“We will be working with our vendor to understand how we may be able to assist them during this time,” the statement continues.

Workers told reporters of large cracks in the building that made them hesitant to go inside Wednesday morning, but factory managers assured them the building was safe.

“After about an hour or so, the building collapsed suddenly,” Abdur Rahim, a worker on the fifth floor, told the Associated Press.

Primark said it was “shocked and deeply saddened by the appalling incident,” in a statement to AP. The company has been reviewing factory standards, the statement continues, and will now also focus on building safety.

Wal-Mart could not confirm whether any of its products were made at factories in the collapsed building, Reuters reports, a fact which points to the complex network of sub-contracting that has fueled Bangladesh’s $20-billion-a-year textile industry.

Bangladesh’s Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir told media Wednesday that “the culprits would be punished.” It’s not clear whether his comment refers to the factory operators, or the mega-chains that hire them to produce cheap goods—an option that would  only be possible once companies like Wal-Mart determined whether they indeed were the end destination for the goods.

The CBC program As it Happens posted this tweet, with an image of a Joe Fresh item buried in the rubble of the factories:




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Joe Fresh clothing made at site of deadly Bangladesh factory collapse

  1. I dont get the connection between Joe Fresh and the collapsed building. Is it that the building collapsed because it is used for making clothes for Joe Fresh OR Joe Fresh caused the building to collapse? There must be an agency of government charged with the responsibility of ensuring that building codes are adhered to. You dont expect Joe Fresh to take over such a responsibility. Their responsibility is quality control. Enough of this blame game and stop treating the government agencies in these countries as children, they are just incompetent.

    • Blaming Bangladesh is not the answer to this horrible tragedy,
      they like other developing countries are doing what they can to
      stay alive in this competitive world that does not take human life
      to mean much of anything. As poor as the working conditions are
      there, other countries are vying for these accounts and will lower
      standards, at the expense of the workers safety and well-being, for
      the race to the bottom. The argument that will surely follow from
      this is that buildings collapse here in the good ‘ole USA and
      Canada too, so how could we blame Superstore/Loblaws just because
      they bought products from this particular factory? However, this is
      not just about a building collapse and cannot be taken as an
      isolated event that can be chalked up to bad fate. Building codes
      are being ignored and corners are being cut in order to save money
      so that low bids can be offered to these corporate giants.

      As a company that prides itself on social responsibility
      Superstore/Loblaws has, in the least, shirked its social
      responsibility. Internal investigations needed to be made as to
      whether or not their products were supplied by this factory. If
      their motto is that they treat employees fairly then they should be
      aware of the working conditions for all of their employees and the
      employees of companies with which they do business with. It is not
      enough to say “I don’t know.” Ignorance is not Innocence!

      I feel taken advantage of by Superstore/Loblaws. As a
      customer, I trusted that they had standards from which they based
      their ideologies of fairness for workers. I now feel that it was a
      great advertising claim that has severely fallen short. I personally
      like Joe Fresh products but I cannot live with the blood trickling
      down from the tags.

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