Canada retailers plan new Bangladesh trade guidelines

Emergency meeting includes Loblaw, Sears, Wal-Mart
||Last Updated: 05/02/2013

(Reuters) — The Retail Council of Canada said on Tuesday it will develop a new set of trade guidelines in response to last week's deadly collapse of a Bangladesh garment factory complex that manufactured apparel for western retailers including Loblaw Cos.

The statement follows a private emergency meeting of retailers on Monday, including Loblaw, Sears Canada and Wal-Mart Canada, to discuss how they would deal with the tragedy, which has killed at least 390 people.

Rescue officials in Bangladesh said on Tuesday that they had given up hope of finding more survivors at the complex, known as Rana Plaza.

The incident is the latest to raise questions about worker safety and low wages in the poor South Asian country, which relies on garments for 80 per cent of its exports.

Representatives of some 45 companies, including Gap, H&M, J.C. Penney, Nike, Wal-Mart and Primark, met officials from the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association on Monday to discuss safety.

The Retail Council of Canada, which represents the operators of more than 43,000 stores in Canada, said it will work with international organizations, the Bangladeshi government and others to find ways to address safety in the Bangladesh garment industry.

Loblaw, which is Canada's biggest grocer, has said only a small percentage of its popular Joe Fresh clothing line was manufactured at Rana Plaza. The line, launched in 2006, represents a key part of Loblaw's growth strategy.

"We will be providing compensation for the families of the victims who worked for our supplier," said Loblaw spokeswoman Julija Hunter in an email on Monday that did not specify any amounts.

The eight-storey plaza in Bangladesh had been built on swampy ground without the correct permits, officials said.

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