Fast Retailing Hasn’t Decided to Join Bangladesh Safety Pact

Uniqlo's Nanjing Road West Store in Shanghai | Source: Fast Retailing

TOKYO, Japan — Fast Retailing Co., Asia’s largest clothing retailer, hasn’t decided if it will join a safety pact to improve fire and building safety in Bangladesh following the country’s worst industrial disaster.

The agreement has been supported by other retailers including Hennes & Mauritz AB and Inditex SA. The measure comes in the wake of collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building that killed at least 1,127 people a month ago and as more than 1 million consumers signed petitions urging companies to join the program.

“We are still considering if the company is going to join the pact, but we haven’t made the decision yet,” Naoto Miyazawa, a Tokyo-based spokesman for Fast Retailing, said in a telephone interview. Fast Retailing has no timeline for making a decision to join the pact, Miyazawa said.

Fast Retailing, the seller of Uniqlo, doesn’t plan to sign the accord “at this time” and will opt for its own safety- improvement plan for garment makers it hires, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier, citing Yukihiro Nitta, head of Fast Retailing’s Corporate Social Responsibility group.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has said it won’t agree to the pact “at this time” and will instead make public safety inspections at all of its suppliers’ authorized factories in Bangladesh. Some institutional investors are beginning to express concern about the safety issue, including the Illinois State Board of Investment, which owns shares of Wal-Mart.

Inditex, Hennes & Mauritz and Fast Retailing are controlled by the richest men in the apparel retailing industry, Amancio Ortega, Stefan Persson and Tadashi Yanai, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Ortega is Spain’s richest man with a fortune of $53.7 billion, Persson is the chairman of H&M and has a net worth of $25.5 billion. Yanai is Japan’s wealthiest man with $18.8 billion.

By: Yuki Yamaguchi, Masahiro Watanabe, with assistance from Patrick Chu; Editors: Aaron Clark, Stephanie Wong