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H&M reveals suppliers

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A woman passes an illuminated logo in the window of a Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M) store in Stockholm, Sweden, in January 2013. Photograph: Bloomberg

A woman passes an illuminated logo in the window of a Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M) store in Stockholm, Sweden, in January 2013. Photograph: Bloomberg

About a quarter of the garment factories in Cambodia that supply Swedish clothing giant H&M have been the scene of mass faintings or large-scale strikes since 2010, based on a suppliers list the clothing giant released late last week.

Along with its 2012 sustainability report, the Swedish retailer, which has 2,800 stores worldwide, released a list of 33 Cambodian factories from which it sources, along with the vendors who initiated the business relationships.

By divulging the information, H&M said in a statement, it became “one of the first and largest fashion companies in the world to make its supplier/factory list public”.

“H&M wants to contribute to a more transparent and ultimately more sustainable fashion industry,” the statement says.

The list of factories includes at least eight that have made headlines in the Post since 2010 for faintings and strikes.

Included are M&V, in Kampong Chhnang province, where hundreds fainted in two separate incidents in 2011 and 3,000 went on strike demanding better conditions last year; Phnom Penh’s Hung Wah factories, where 100 fainted in an incident in 2011 and another 50 fainted last month; and Cambo Handsome, in the capital’s Dangkor district, where a strike over sacked unionists descended into a violent clash with police in 2011.

H&M also dealt with the shuttered Kingsland factory, which is not on the list, before its owners fled in late December.

Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Cambodian Legal Education Center, said H&M’s list would help his organisation better monitor sub-contracting.

“For us, it is very helpful,” he said, adding that labour rights groups in Europe had been pushing the company to release the list.

“Now it will be clear – if we find a factory producing for a [vendor], we will know if they are [authorised] as a subcontractor for H&M.”

The release of the list coincided with the unveiling of a three-month financial report, from December to February, which H&M chief executive Karl-Johan Persson said had been a “challenging” time for the industry due to various economic factors.

“This meant that sales in the first quarter did not reach our expectations,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shane Worrell at shane.worrell@phnompenhpost.com

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