Edinburgh Woollen Mill or EWM, the British apparel retailer, which reportedly cancelled work orders worth US $ 8.2 million placed with its various vendors in Bangladesh, has come in for severe criticism from the country’s apex garment makers’ body.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has now threatened to blacklist EWM for neither paying the vendors nor responding to the suppliers’ queries, claimed media reports.
“We are blacklisting non-responsive buyers who are not only paying but also not responding to suppliers,” stated President of the BGMEA Dr. Rubana Huq adding that the RMG sector always maintained a strategic relationship with buyers and brands and is not for confrontational posture towards anyone but when the business is going through such a tough time there is a need to rank the buyers, more so when there is a significant mismatch between the sustainability requirements and sourcing practices.
The BGMEA had recently written a letter in this direction to the owner of EWM Philip Day requesting him to settle all outstanding dues as prescribed, failing which the retailer would be blacklisted and embargo placed on it and its agents.
The BGMEA in the letter – copies of which have also been sent to Bangladesh High Commission in London, the Ministry of Commerce, the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority and the country’s central bank the Bangladesh Bank – maintained that if EWM fails to pay up, the traders’ body will not issue any new Utilisation Declarations to its members for any order of EWM, including that of its associates and affiliates.
Dr. Rubana, in the letter, also maintained that EWM along with some other buyers were found to be taking undue advantage of the situation and demanding unreasonable discounts from the suppliers despite the fact that contracts were concluded even before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.