K Group joins accord to improve safety of clothing factories in Bangladesh

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh aims to improve the electrical, fire and building safety of clothing factories in the country. Kesko is the fourth Finnish company to join the Accord. Kesko imports clothing from Bangladesh for the mywear range sold in K-Citymarkets.

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is an accord signed by international clothing brands, which strives to improve the electrical, fire and building safety of clothing factories in Bangladesh through inspections, training and corrective actions.

The accord was created following the disastrous Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013, and was extended in 2018. More than 180 companies and 1,600 factories as well as trade unions and NGOs have signed the Accord, which impacts over two million factory workers.

Systematic efforts to improve building and fire safety in factories

The responsibility of the manufacturing of clothes for K-Citymarket’s mywear range is assured with factory audits and sustainability training arranged for the suppliers. By joining the Accord, we want to further increase the responsibility of mywear clothing manufactured in Bangladesh.

“The devastating events of Rana Plaza showed that special actions towards workplace safety are needed in Bangladesh. NGOs and trade unions have encouraged companies to join the Accord in its extension period. The Accord, with its focus on factory workplace safety, complements our long-standing social responsibility auditing,” says Matti Kalervo, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at K Group.

The Accord covers all factories manufacturing clothing for K-Citymarket’s mywear brand

Regular fire and building safety inspections are carried out in factories that supply clothing to companies that have signed the Accord. Special attention is paid to building safety, fire doors and fire alarms, electrical equipment and the storage of stock and supply in the work facilities.

The companies and factories that have joined the Accord are required to implement measures to improve workplace safety in accordance with remediation plans. The process also entails arranging workplace safety training for the employees and establishing safety committees in the factories.

“Last autumn, we saw first-hand in Bangladesh how the Accord has improved responsibility in clothing manufacturing, for example, through structural improvements to buildings and fire safety. All factories manufacturing clothing for K-Citymarket’s mywear brand are covered by the Accord, and we get regular updates on operations and safety in these factories,” says Kalervo.

A transparent supply chain benefits everyone

Ensuring responsible supply chains is important for K Group and we have worked towards this for a long time. With global clothing manufacturing now largely located in Asia, K Group is paying special attention to factories there.

“For several years now, we have published a list on our website that details the countries and factories that manufacture our own brand and own import clothing, accessories, shoes and bags. NGOs have been hoping for even more detailed information regarding the location of the factories, and our latest listing now also contains factory addresses,” says Kalervo.

K Group uses international assessment systems, such as amfori BSCI auditing, for supplier audits. K Group cooperates with the Swedish ICA on the procurement of clothes sold in K-Citymarkets.

“The mywear range sold at K-Citymarkets is one example of the products we procure in collaboration with ICA. We work with the ICA Global Sourcing team in Asia in assuring the social responsibility of factories, and the team also conducts factory audits. We use factory audits to monitor the safety of working conditions, wages and working hours. We also regularly arrange social responsibility training for our suppliers in Asia,” says Kalervo.

 

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