H&M, the world’s second-biggest fashion retailer, said on Monday it was shocked by the use of deadly force against protesters in Myanmar and that it had paused placing orders with its manufacturers in the country, Reuters is reporting.
The fashion giant Hennes & Mauritz is a Swedish multinational clothing company known for its fast fashion. It has around 45 direct suppliers in Myanmar, it said on its website, and has sourced clothing in the country for seven years.
“Although we refrain from taking any immediate action regarding our long-term presence in the country, we have at this point paused placing new orders with our suppliers,” Serkan Tanka, country manager Myanmar, said in an email.
“This is due to practical difficulties and an unpredictable situation limiting our ability to operate in the country, including challenges related to manufacturing and infrastructure, raw material imports and transport of finished goods.”
Tanka said H&M was extremely concerned about the situation in the country and that it was in dialogue with UN agencies, diplomatic representatives, human rights experts, trade unions and other multinational companies.
“These consultations will guide us in any future decision in relation to how we as a company can best contribute to positive developments in accordance with the will of the people in Myanmar,” he said.
Myanmar’s garment industry is smaller than that of neighbouring countries Bangladesh, China and Thailand. However, its around 600 clothing factories are significant employers, providing jobs for around 450,000 workers in 2020, according to the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association.
Last October, H&M announced it would close 250 of its 5000 stores globally, after its profitability took a hit from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
According to industry insiders, the company is shifting customers towards its newly launched online business.