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Primark factories axed after ethical code breach

Primark has ditched three of its suppliers in Southern India after it discovered that they had sub-contracted some work to children.

Primark said that the factories had sub-contracted embroidery and sequin work to unapproved sub-contractors without Primark’s knowledge or consent. The sub-contracting involved home working and in some instances children were also found to be working at home. The investigation was prompted by information passed to Primark by the BBC.

Primark said that the affected garments represented 0.04% of its worldwide sourcing.

Primark said in a statement: “Primark is an ethical business that demands the highest standards from its suppliers. It has a strict Supplier Code of Conduct which expressly bans the use of child labour. In addition none of our suppliers is permitted to sub-contract without our specific consent and agreement. None of these suppliers is permitted to use home working. Under no circumstances would Primark ever knowingly permit such activities whether directly through its suppliers or through third party sub-contractors. Primark does not tolerate serious breaches of its fundamental principles.”

In addition to sacking the factories at fault, Primark said it had taken urgent steps to further tighten control of suppliers. The company said it had summoned suppliers to meetings to reinforce the stringent trading standards it expects and to emphasise that it will not tolerate this type of sub-contracting.

Primark said it would appoint a highly reputable NGO in Southern India as a partner to act as its eyes and ears on the ground. It said discussions were already at an advanced stage.

Primark said its prices were low because, “We don’t overcharge our customers. Most of our clothes are bought from the same factories as other as other fashion retailers and people producing them are paid exactly the same whatever the label and whatever the price in the shop. We are able to offer good value and good quality because of low mark-ups and big volumes. We use simple designs, our overhead costs are extremely low and we don’t run expensive advertising campaigns.”

Primark said it would also launch Primark Better Lives Foundation to provide financial assistance to organisations devoted to improving the lives of young people.

To read the full statement from Primark click on the attached Word document. To see more info on Primark’s ethical code visit

Readers' comments (4)

  • Well, well, well, very interesting and great seeing someone actually doing something about this - althought I am sure some companies - no names mentioned of course - will still turn a blind eye to this sort of thing.

    Good on Primark for having the ethics to get rid of these sub-contractors.

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  • Yup...they got rumbled. Any journo wanting to make a name at the mo. is researching like mad. Story worth a few bob to a daily tabloid.
    What happened to the show on Ch 4 'The Devil Wears Primark'??? Gets pulled, then re-scheduled..then pulled again.

    Primark are backtracking ONLY because they got caught out. This PR stuff is going to put 5% on their prices soon...the cost of a WHOLE dept. spending their time defending their sourcing. And what is that going to do to Gordons inflation figures. He relies on them to keep inflation figures down.

    P Green will get caught out again soon...all those fascias...all that cheapo stuff......just waiting to be rumbled.....

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  • I don't agree with the forced child labour, but I think there are instances where 'child labour' is not as horrific as portrayed.

    What is the bigger picture? How old are the children? Are they doing this from their homes in order to earn money to feed their families?

    Sure, while it does pays to err on the sihe of caution, I think that there is a benefit to extremely poor families when girls aged 9-14 are able to assist in earning the family income by embelishing garments in their homes.

    A lot of these girls would not go to school anyway. At least they are learning a skill that may see them in employment in the future.

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    If they are priced at that price there's obviously something more to them than just huge quantities! And it will boil down to exploitation of some sort some where!!

    Let's really say no to such stuff!!!

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