‘Not impossible’ for retailers to source responsibly

Gurjit Degun
15 April 2014

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15 April 2014 | Gurjit Degun

Retailers should put their own checks in place when sourcing from other countries and not blame governments for a lack of regulation, says Tesco’s group director of ethical trading.

According to Giles Bolton: “It is not impossible if you are a responsible retailer - regardless to what else is going on in the industry - to make sure you are sourcing responsibly.”

He added companies should not blame governments for not doing enough in terms of regulation. “If you want to trade from that country the responsible thing to do is to make sure that you have your own systems in check so that you can be confident.”

Speaking at the Sedex Global Responsible Sourcing Conference in London last week, Bolton said the Rana Plaza factory tragedy in Bangladesh saw retailers step back and say they will make sure such a disaster does not happen again.

He said: “There has been a great push to collaborative working across global unions and brands. So we’ve seen some real progress in individual retailer supply chains. I think the question here is will this be a lasting change?”

The conference session, which centered around the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in April 2013, also heard from Justin Bettey, European director at supply chain consultancy Elevate.

He believes companies understand the risks but the challenge is “to what extent can supply chains really assess that hazard and build it into their legal responsibility, their moral responsibility and the business case”.

Bettey said: “Unless there is a good business case, it’s a challenge to get change in supply chains. The worse way to create change is to force it. So change has to come because it is seen as a benefit to the company, to the workers and to the factory.

“At the moment there’s millions of dollars being invested in Bangladesh because of what has happened but we are not doing that today in otherareas where we know there is significant risk, because it is hard to justify it.”


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