The Japanese retailer is the latest to move to show its support for suppliers. Its statement follows a tie-up on Wednesday between unions and global brands and retailers to form a working group to help support beleaguered apparel manufacturers. The brands involved range from PVH Corp., Ralph Lauren Corp. and VF Corp. to H&M, Adidas and Under Armour. The working group is being overseen by the International Labor Organization.
In a statement, Fast Retailing also stressed it would use all fabrics and materials already purchased by its suppliers to make the products it has ordered, or compensate those factories if the materials are later not needed. The retailer said it would pay suppliers under the schedules in place prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Beyond these steps, Fast is in talks with its suppliers to gauge their financial health in the wake of COVID-19, with the aim of determining any financial risk; the status orders at individual factories and how current orders compare to the plant’s capacity, and adjust manufacturing schedules where possible or reallocate orders among its suppliers to help protect any individual factory from any financial pressure.
The statement on its policies toward suppliers came as Fast also spelled out the steps it was taking to protect the workers in its supplier factories. “We believe that brands in our industry have an important role to play in mitigating the humanitarian and economic threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the retailer said in the statement. “To this end, we have implemented a series of special measures to help reduce risks faced by our manufacturing partners and by workers across our supply chain, all of whom have contributed much to our business and industry.”
The steps include working with the ILO and the International Finance Corp. to provide guidelines to factories regarding sanitization measures they should take; stressed to factories the importance of safety measures for their employees and also provided some factories with infrared thermometers, and set up a formal point of contact within Fast to answer any inquiries from factories regarding the steps they should be taking, including on how they should treat migrant workers. Fast plans to survey migrant workers within its suppler factories regarding the impact of COVID-19.