“Our garment suppliers and their employees are extremely vulnerable amid the difficult Covid-19 pandemic situation. H&M highly values the relationship with its suppliers and it is more important than ever to stand by commitments, being transparent, and having responsible purchasing practices,” Ziaur Rahman, country manager of Swedish retail giant H&M for Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Ethiopia, told Dhaka Tribune’s Ibrahim Hossain Ovi in an interview.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, how is the apparel industry navigating through troubled waters?
Covid-19 continues to impact people, communities, and companies around the world. H&M Group is working extensively across business functions to manage the situation in the best possible way. While the full implications of Covid-19 are yet to be experienced, we will tackle challenges today and, in future, together with our business partners and other industry stakeholders. We all depend on having a viable and sustainable textile industry going forward.
By 2040, H&M intends to be climate positive. What does it mean for Bangladesh?
We want to continue to lead fashion retail towards a more sustainable future. We will continue our long-term sustainability work, and retain our goals and commitments. The H&M group’s sustainability vision is to be a leading force in the transition to circular, climate-positive fashion as a fair and equal company.
We continue to add value for our customers through our sustainability work, such as our goal for 2020 of only purchasing recycled and sustainably sourced cotton, and we are taking steps towards our goal of 100% of our materials being either recycled or sourced in a more sustainable way by 2030.
Our efforts connected to sustainability will contribute to strengthening our position and ensure the long-term positive development of H&M Group.
What is the future direction, which would redefine Bangladesh apparel industry in a-post pandemic world?
Bangladesh will continue to be an important production market for us. We have been operating in the country for more than 27 years. We are working closely with our suppliers and developing together with them. For the country’s textile industry to become even more competitive, we see a need for a greater focus on, for example, increased product diversification and product development.
How can we empower the apparel supply chain?
As always, collaboration with other industry stakeholders is the key, and we will continue to work closely together with others. We have therefore joined the UN body ILO, the international unions ITUC and IndustriALL, International Organization of Employers (IOE) and other brands, in a call to action to jointly tackle the immediate and long-term effects of Covid-19 and continue to work towards a more resilient garment industry.
There will be a review of how to mobilize funds locally in initiatives to counter the effects of the Covid-19 crisis on people and jobs in countries where systems of social protection are weak.
What are some sustainable solutions towards labour anxieties in terms of losing jobs, where buyers and makers both can contribute?
We of course know that our garment manufacturing suppliers, and their employees, are extremely vulnerable in this difficult situation. We highly value the relationship with our suppliers – they are our partners – and now, in this difficult situation, it’s more important than ever to stand by commitments, being transparent, and having responsible purchasing practices.
We want to help suppliers and garment workers, and ensure the future viability of the industry once the crisis has passed.
The world is going through the Covid-19 pandemic. How can fashion move forward?
Just as under normal circumstances, we fully stand by our responsible purchasing practices and contractual agreements. We take delivery of and pay for already produced goods, as well as goods in production, if delivered within a reasonable timeframe. We are fulfilling all payments for delivered goods, at the originally agreed price and on time.