Primark, one of the largest fashion retailers in the UK, wants to increase sourcing apparel, especially more diversified value-added products, from Bangladesh, according to industry sources.
The brand also wants to strengthen partnerships with suppliers in Bangladesh to create a robust backward linkage aiming to make a “double transformation” in the value chain. The globally-renowned clothing brand made this disclosure when a delegation of Primark and the Associated British Foods (ABF) met with Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Faruque Hassan at the BGMEA Complex in the capital’s Uttara on Monday.
Faruque Hassan urged the brand to strengthen partnerships with suppliers in Bangladesh to produce more innovative high-end products. He requested Primark to build long-term partnerships with suppliers to support them in scaling-up capacities in the area of sustainability in products and processes. They discussed the current state of the industry, its challenges and prospects.
They also discussed how Primark and the BGMEA could collaborate to achieve common goals in the area of sustainability to positively impact the economy and environment and improve the workers’ lives in the supply chain. They expressed optimism about working together to create a win-win situation for Primark and the industry.
BGMEA President Faruque Hassan highlighted the strategic vision of the BGMEA that aims to accelerate the growth of the RMG industry by making it more sustainable and competitive with innovation and technology.
The retailer’s top officials mentioned that they want to increase their business in the USA market from sources in Bangladesh. As part of this move, the delegation is scheduled to meet with Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi on Wednesday morning at his secretariat office. Adviser to the Prime Minister on Private Industry and Investment Salman F Rahman will be present at that meeting, according to the ministry sources.
According to meeting sources, Primark wants to work with Bangladeshi policymakers and exporters on GSP+ facility preparations. Bangladesh has enjoyed special privileges as a Least Developed Country (LDC) through the Everything but Arms (EBA) initiative under the EU’s GSP scheme.
The EU Commission’s proposal for the new Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) includes the “double transformation” provision for achieving GSP+. “Double transformation” in the apparel value chain is mandatory to get GSP+ facilities for exporters from developing countries, while Bangladesh is set to graduate from LDC by 2026.
The delegation included Paul Marchant, CEO, Primark; Paul Lister, director of Legal Services and Company Secretary, ABF; Katharine Stewart, group corporate responsibility director, ABF; Steve Lawton, Primark group product director; Jon Rolls, group director of planning and space; Emma Ormond, head of policy and public affairs, Primark; Matthew Rhodes, head of sourcing, Primark; and Filippo Poggi, country controller Bangladesh, Primark.
BGMEA Vice President Miran Ali and Director Faisal Samad were also present at the meeting.
Primark, also the largest retailer in the UK by volume, has a growing presence in 14 countries across Europe and the USA, with more than 410 stores. “We see opportunities for growth in all our markets, expecting to reach 530 stores by the end of 2026,” according to Primark.
It also owns 20 stores in the US and as part of the retailer’s US growth plan, it is targeting 60 stores by 2026. In 2022, Primark sales were approximately $9.47 billion. The retailer annually procures apparels worth about $900 million from Bangladesh’s over 100 apparel factories.