Primark, the British-based discount clothing chain, is offering compensation and emergency aid after a supplier’s factory in Bangladesh collapsed, claiming more than 400 lives.
The Rana Plaza, on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka, collapsed last week. The building's owner, Mohammed Sohel Rana, has been arrested amid allegations of negligence and illegal construction.
Primark, part of Associated British Foods, majority-owned by the Weston Family, is one of several companies to have used suppliers operating in the building. Others include Canada’s Loblaw, which is also tied to the Weston family. Primark has urged other companies that source goods from the building to come forward.
Primark said its team in Bangladesh “has been working to put in place immediate and long-term help for victims of this disaster”.
It said: “We have partnered with a local NGO to address the immediate needs of victims, including the provision of emergency food aid to families. This initiative began in Bangladesh immediately the extent of the disaster became clear.”
Politicians and protesters are demanding that companies buying from Bangladesh factories take swift action on safety, low pay and poor working conditions.
Protesters also gathered outside Primark’s retail outlets in Britain.
Hundreds of garment factory workers have held walk-outs and protests in several industrial areas around Dhaka.
Matalan, another UK-based discount clothing retailer, said it was working with its contacts in Bangladesh to see how it could provide assistance. The company, owned by the Hargreaves family, said it was not using suppliers from the building at the time of its collapse, though it had in the past. Italian family-owned fashion firm Benetton said it had sourced a “one-off” order from one of the factories in the building “several weeks” ago.
Representatives of about 45 companies including supermarket giant Walmart have met officials from the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association to discuss safety.