DATA

THE PROS:

Greenpeace has recognized Primark as a Detox leader.

In 2013, Primark partnered with agricultural experts, CottonConnect, and the Self-Employed Women’s Association to create the ‘Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme’. The program is designed to introduce sustainable farming methods that reduce the use of fertiliser, pesticides and water, improve cotton yields and increase the farmers’ income. The brand’s three year pilot in Gujarat, India trained 1,251 women smallholders resulting in an average profit increase of 211%. Over the next six years, Primark reports that an additional 10,000 female farmers will be taken through the program. The brand shares stories from the workers that have been impacted by the program.

The brand states that it has helped hundreds of workers open bank accounts for the first time. Primark has partnered with Geosansar to provide easy to open bank accounts for workers. Geosansar bank kiosks are located near factories or in worker communities. Accounts can be opened using biometric finger scans, which is useful for workers who may be unable to read or write. Rather than receiving their salary in cash, which can be unsafe, workers receive a salary directly into their bank accounts. The brand shares a video about the impact of the program.

THE CONS:

In 2015, 31% of Primark’s factories were rated as grade 3. Grade 3 meaning ethical compliance was not met and significant and numerous issues were found.

The Rana Plaza building that collapsed in April, 2013, housed several factories which manufactured garments for around 28 brands. One of these factories was supplying Primark.

In 2014, SOMO and the ICN’s report, Flawed Fabrics, reported on serious labour rights and human rights violations faced by girls and young women employed in the Tamil Nadu spinning industry in South India. The report highlighted some of the factories Primark source from. In a response to the report, Primark stated that it only sources from one of the suppliers mentioned in the report, Jeyavishnu Spinntex.

/ Primark’s business supports 700,000 workers across three continents.

/ Primark states that it can take as little as 6 weeks from initial design concept to being available on shelves.

/ Primark has 314 stores.

/ In 2015, Primark made $8022 million in revenues.

/ Primark has approximately 700 first-tier suppliers.

/ Primark sources the majority of its products from countries overseas such as India, China, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Turkey.

/ It is unclear if the brand can trace its entire supply chain.

/ The brand does not publicly disclose a full list of the countries in which its suppliers are located or the supplier names and addresses.

/ Currently a selection of Primark’s core suppliers have published emissions data on the IPE Detox platform. In addition to this Primark has engaged priority suppliers in the reporting of emissions data on the IPE PRTR platform. The brand aims to expand this exponentially in 2016-2017. Primark states that it is continuing work with its supply chain towards the goal of emissions disclosure.

/ Primark received a score of 67% from Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Transparency Index. This score fell under the high-medium rating and the report states that companies in this category seem to be doing a bit more than the others when it comes to having policies and commitments in place and auditing and reporting activities. The report also states that despite making some good efforts to monitor standards, these companies seem to be lacking in many areas and offer some public supply chain transparency, but not enough.

/ In its Code of Conduct, Primark states the following:

  • Living wages are paid: Wages and benefits paid for a standard working week meet, at a minimum, national legal standards or industry benchmark standards, whichever is higher. In any event wages should always be enough to meet basic needs and to provide some discretionary income.

We don’t have any information on if and how the brand achieves this.

/ In 2010, Primark joined the Better Work program. The program includes factory inspections and support to enable factories to meet international standards. 26 of Primark’s factories are involved in the Better Work program. Primark states that it will continue to support the growth and development of Better Work in the countries where the brand buys its clothing.

/ The brand states that it has helped hundreds of workers open bank accounts for the first time. Primark has partnered with Geosansar to provide easy to open bank accounts for workers. Geosansar bank kiosks are located near factories or in worker communities. Accounts can be opened using biometric finger scans, which is useful for workers who may be unable to read or write. Rather than receiving their salary in cash, which can be unsafe, workers receive a salary directly into their bank accounts. The brand shares a video about the impact of the program.

/ Suppliers are rated according to their compliance status with grade 1 being the best and 3 the weakest. In 2015, 4% of Primark’s factories rated as grade 1 (6% in 2014), with good systems in place to ensure ethical compliance, and a limited number of minor issues. 65% of Primark’s factories rated as grade 2 (60% in 2014), meaning that there was evidence of some good systems in place, however, the suppliers had not achieved full ethical compliance. 31% of Primark’s factories were rated as grade 3 (34% in 2014), meaning ethical compliance was not met and significant and numerous issues were found.

/ The Rana Plaza building that collapsed in April, 2013, housed several factories which manufactured garments for around 28 brands. One of these factories was supplying Primark. You can learn more about what Primark did in response to the collapse here.

/ In 2013, Primark partnered with CottonConnect and the Self-Employed Women’s Association to create the ‘Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme’. The program is designed to introduce sustainable farming methods that reduce the use of fertilizer, pesticides and water, improve cotton yields and increase the farmers’ income. The brand’s three year pilot in Gujarat, India trained 1,251 women smallholders resulting in an average profit increase of 211%, which many used to improve household welfare and to invest in education for their children. Specifically, in Year 2 of the program in India there was a 53.5% reduction in pesticide use, 13.5% reduction in fertilizer usage and 27.9% decrease in water usage. 1,200 smallholders in China were also part of the program. Over the next six years, Primark reports that an additional 10,000 female farmers will be taken through the program, with the first seeds being sown by new trainees in April 2016. The brand shares stories from the workers that have been impacted by the program.

/ Greenpeace has recognized Primark as a Detox leader. Primark released a Detox Progress Report in March 2015. The report outlines what the brand has done and what it intends to do to meet its Detox commitment.

/ Primark is committed to zero discharges of all hazardous chemicals from the whole lifecycle and all production procedures that are associated with the making and using of all products Primark produces and/or sells by no later than January 1, 2022.

/ In 2011, Primark began a partnership with Solidaridad, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands, and 8 other brands as part of the Partnership for Cleaner Textile (PACT). The aim of the initiative is to support wet processing textile factories in Bangladesh to implement sustainable and resource efficient practices. The Cleaner Production programs provide training to mills and vertical suppliers on how to make improvements to their washing, dyeing and printing operations. The training helps them to reduce the water, chemicals and energy they use and ensure that wastewater is treated properly. During 2015 / 2016 Primark nominated 12 wet processing factories to be involved in this program and will select 8 others within its supply chain to participate in the program before the end of 2016.

/ We don’t have any information on if the brand uses renewable energy at any stage of its supply chain, if the brand has measured its greenhouse gas emissions for its supply chain, if the brand has measured its water use at any stage of the supply chain, and policies and strategies the brand has to manage waste and recycling during production.

/ In the US, Primark donates unsold merchandise to the charity K.I.D.S/Fashion Delivers. K.I.D.S/Fashion Delivers distributes the merchandise Primark donates through a network of over 1,000 community partners across America and around the world, who in turn redistribute the donations to families and individuals in need and recovering from disasters. Any merchandise that can’t be redistributed is recycled in an environmentally sound manner. The partnership started in 2015 when Primark opened its first US store.

/ Since 2009, Primark in partnership with SAVE (Social Awareness and Voluntary Education) has provided education and support to workers and their communities in south India. The program raises awareness on topics including the importance of children’s education, financial planning, and health and worker rights. The brand shares stories from the workers that have been impacted by the program. Primark states that it continue to grow and develop this program in south India.

/ As part of the Detox commitment Primark has committed to achieving the following by 2020:

  • Phase out of the use of 11 priority chemical groups from the supply chain by 2020
  • Ensure only APEO free formulations are used within production
  • Ensure only PFC free formulations are used within production
  • Ensure only Phthalate free formulations are used within production
  • Identify other chemicals beyond the priority 11 for phase out

/ Primark uses some leather in its products, predominantly in accessories and shoes. The brand states that it is currently working to map and assess tanneries in its supply chain. We don’t have any further information on this.

/ Primark’s objective is to have full traceability from all Primark supply chain partners of upstream manufacturing, product and chemical inventory information for every point in the supply chain.

 

/ In 2010, Primark joined the Better Work program. The program includes factory inspections and support to enable factories to meet international standards. 26 of Primark’s factories are involved in the Better Work program. Primark states that it will continue to support the growth and development of Better Work in the countries where the brand buys its clothing.

/ Since 2011 Primark has partnered with (BSR) Business for Social Responsibility, local partners and the brand’s suppliers on the HERhealth (Health Enables Returns) initiative. HERhealth provides health education and access to healthcare to women working in the factories that make Primark’s product. The HERhealth initiative selects a group of women from each factory as coaches. They are provided with a series of training sessions that take place at work. The coaches are then responsible for training the other women workers in the factory. The topics covered include healthy eating, family planning, HIV/ AIDS, malaria & dengue fever, maternal health, personal hygiene, reproductive cancers, menstruation, and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. The local partners working with the factory and the coaches also assess the facilities and services that women need access to in order to maintain good health. As a result some factories have begun offering sanitary napkins at a discounted cost, or have created links with local clinics and hospitals. In 2012, Primark shared a video about the initiative. The brand also shares stories from some of the workers that participated in the HERhealth program and a map of where the factories participating in the program are located and how many women participating. In Bangladesh health initiatives are being implemented at all Primark factories, and the brand is working with BSR and other local and international partners to do this. Primark is currently working with BSR to extend the program to a group of female cotton farmers in northern India.

/ Since 2009, Primark in partnership with SAVE (Social Awareness and Voluntary Education) has provided education and support to workers and their communities in south India. The program raises awareness on topics including the importance of children’s education, financial planning, and health and worker rights. Primark states that its programme with SAVE is for the wider community where the brand’s products are made and not just for those who work in the factories that make Primark clothing. Under the program workers form small learning groups, and receive education from SAVE’s trainers. Workers in the groups then educate others in the factories they work in, and the communities they live in. A key achievement of this program is that all workers who take part in the scheme send their children to school and encourage others in their communities to do so. As part of the programme, SAVE carries out in-depth surveys to help Primark understand the challenges that workers, and their communities face and then build programs that address these issues. The brand shares stories from the workers that have been impacted by the program. Primark states that it continue to grow and develop this program in south India.

/ Primark has produced three case studies with the Times 100 to help students understand the issues and challenges related to ethical trading and sustainability. These are reportedly particularly relevant for business studies.

/ We don’t have any information on how much the CEO, Paul Marchant, made in the last financial year.

/ In 2008, Primark was featured on the BBC TV Panorama program: “Primark on the Rack”, which claimed to show three young boys being used to manufacture clothes sold in Primark. After 3 years, an investigation by Primark and a review by the BBC Trust, the BBC Trust upheld a complaint by Primark that the footage was fabricated, and apologized to the retailer.

/ In June 2011, The Guardian reported that an “investigation found “serious failings” in the making of a documentary (Primark on the Rack) about Primark’s working practices and concluded it was “more likely than not” that a section of the film was not genuine.”

/ In September 2013, Ecouterre reported that Primark was the only brand at the time to make payments to Rana Plaza victims. Over 3,000 victims were paid by Primark.

/ In November 2014, The Guardian reported that protesters attended the shareholder meeting of Associated British Food, the parent company of Primark, to persuade more retailers to pay staff a “fair living wage.”

/ In 2013, Primark partnered with agricultural experts, CottonConnect, and the Self-Employed Women’s Association to create the ‘Primark Sustainable Cotton Programme’. The program is designed to introduce sustainable farming methods that reduce the use of fertiliser, pesticides and water, improve cotton yields and increase the farmers’ income. The brand’s three year pilot in Gujarat, India trained 1,251 women smallholders resulting in an average profit increase of 211%, which many used to improve household welfare and to invest in education for their children. Specifically, in Year 2 of the program in India there was a 53.5% reduction in pesticide use, 13.5% reduction in fertiliser usage and 27.9% decrease in water usage. 1,200 smallholders in China were also part of the program. Over the next six years, Primark reports that an additional 10,000 female farmers will be taken through the program, with the first seeds being sown by new trainees in April 2016. The brand shares stories from the workers that have been impacted by the program.

/ To support the capture of chemical inventory data and ensure the safe procurement of chemical products Primark has been strongly involved in the development of, and has now approved, the following three solutions which will become available to Primark during 2016:

  • An industry chemical registry with supportive MRSL conformance process
  • A shared supplier profile and inventory management software
  • A 3rd party chemical product screening program

/ In 2011, Primark started a partnership with Solidaridad, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands, and 8 other brands as part of the Partnership for Cleaner Textile (PACT) to support textile wet processing factories in Bangladesh in implementing sustainable and resource efficient practices. The Cleaner Production programs provide training to mills and vertical suppliers on how to make improvements to their washing, dyeing and printing operations. The training helps them to reduce the water, chemicals and energy they use and ensure that wastewater is treated properly. During 2015/2016 Primark nominated 12 wet processing factories to be involved in this program and will select 8 others within its supply chain to participate in the program before the end of 2016.

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VOICES

LaborBehindTheLabelLABOUR BEHIND THE LABEL | TAILORED WAGES REPORT

“For a company that has a lot to prove, when it says that it is not exploiting its workers by selling things so cheaply, more needs to be done.” – 03/2014

Primark currently lacks a strategy for delivering a living wage. The various current pilot projects cited give little data about real wage improvements and no indication of plans to use the learning gained in other parts of the supply chain, which is disappointing.” – 03/2014


EuroWeekly

MATTHEW ELLIOTT | EURO WEEKLY NEWS

With the nation in the grip of a virulent double-dip recession from 2008 onwards, Primark put itself forward as a cheap alternative for struggling families and quickly became a local powerhouse.” – 03/31/2016

Primark for The Guardian – 06/25/2014

“Primark is committed to making working conditions safer for those who manufacture its products. It was the first UK retailer to sign the accord on fire and building safety in Bangladesh in order to work collaboratively with other brands and stakeholders in the industry to bring about sustainable long-term change in the country.”

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