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Retailers at Odds with Each Other on How to Respond to Bangladeshi Factory Disasters

Reacting to public outrage, Western retailers and apparel brands began a major push to improve safety at the Bangladeshi factories they do business with. It involves a sprint to inspect hundreds of plants each month and a commitment to help correct any safety problems found — all with an eye to preventing another catastrophic collapse or fire. But instead of joining forces, the Western brands have divided into two sometimes feuding camps.

That, the critics say, detracts from the overall effort, which has otherwise won praise.

One group — the Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety — has more than 150 members, including many European brands like H&M, Carrefour and Mango, as well as 14 American companies. The other group — the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety — includes 26 companies, all of them American or Canadian, among them Walmart, Gap, Target and Kohl’s.

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