28 April 2005 | Liam O'Brien
Sportswear giant Nike has taken the unusual step of publishing the names and addresses of its 700 first-tier global suppliers.
The details, posted on its website at www.nikebiz.com, are designed to answer criticism of conditions in suppliers' factories.
The 50-country list stretches most of the globe and the alphabet with on supplier listed in Albania and 34 in Vietnam.
China is home to the greatest number of Nike factories, at 113. The list also includes 73 plants in Thailand, 39 in Indonesia and five in the UK.
In a written statement, Nike said publishing the list, together with a report detailing corporate social responsibility initiatives, was a step toward improving conditions in the industry. The report urges other firms to follow Nike's lead and collaborate to improve conditions in contracted factories.
But other companies are not likely to follow, said Ian Taylor, who has made CSR the theme of his CIPS presidency (see Features, 3 March).
"It would be impractical for most firms because of the size of the supply chain and the turnover of the supply base. It is probably more important to have supply chain policies that deliver effective standards."
Ray Baker, director of social responsibility at Kingfisher, the retail group that includes B&Q, ruled out going down the same route. He said the main CSR problems are further down the supply chain.
"It is more difficult to list the group of home-workers 10 miles away from the factory. They are the ones in the supply chain that tend to have child workers and the worst conditions."
Ian Cunningham, a procurement consultant, said: "It's a bit like McDonald's introducing salads. Nike has an Achilles heel and it needs to address it.".
He added the list would probably be most useful for foreign second-tier suppliers that could now see which factories supply to Nike. This could enable them to sell their goods and services to the first-tier companies.